Canine Reproduction

Learn more about our reproduction services! At Homestead Veterinary Hospital, our team is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for all aspects of canine health, including reproduction.

Homestead Veterinary Hospital Canine Obstetrics and Neonatal Care:

Managing a canine pregnancy can be overwhelming at times, particularly if a cesarean section is necessary, it can hard to know what to expect. At Homestead Veterinary Hospital we want to provide the care that best meets the needs of our patients, their puppies, and our clients.

small puppy
We start with progesterone timing managed by our doctor and the reproductive technicians in Infinity Canine. Infinity Canine is a reproductive service offering semen collection and storage. Infinity provides a resource to our doctors and clients in managing their breeding programs.

A healthy litter starts with a healthy Mother, and this starts well before your female dog is ready to be bred. If she is properly immunized, she will be able to provide passive immunity to the puppies, this keeps them safe from common diseases such as parvo or distemper virus until they are old enough to receive immunizations of their own. We recommend CAVIDS titer testing through the University of Wisconsin. This is an affordable way of knowing the right time to vaccinate your puppies based on Mom’s level of immunity.
https://www.vetmed.wisc.edu/lab/cavids/

pug with puppies
worm
A deworming program for your dam will reduce the risk of intestinal parasites being passed to the puppies. Puppies can be infected with worms before they are born. Deworming the dam reduces the risk of worms in her puppies.
Health and genetic testing are recommended to reduce the risk of congenital and genetic defects. The tests recommended vary by breed. We can assist in completing this testing and ensuring the health of the next generation.
embark
insemination
Insemination ranges from natural to surgical insemination. The different types of artificial insemination range from side by side with fresh semen or chilled, or transcervical and surgical insemination with frozen. Freezing semen is an excellent way to expand your choices within your breeding program. Which type of insemination recommended may change with your dam’s age, previous breeding history, number of pregnancies, and the type of semen used. Our goal is to help you make decisions that protect the health of your dam and give the best results.
We schedule breeding exams between 5 and 7 days of the start of your female’s heat cycle. The visit will include a physical and gynecological exam, progesterone, and brucellosis testing. Brucellosis is a disease that infects dogs. It can potentially be transmitted to people. Dogs are exposed through the bodily fluids of infected dogs, and through sexual contact. Brucellosis can cause a failure to conceive, or abortion, in the dam. It can also cause sterility in the sire. Dogs can be carriers without showing symptoms. To protect our team, their dogs, and the dogs of all our clients we expect a negative brucellosis test every 6 months on all intact dogs over 12 months of age.
bacteria
dog internal

Pregnancy Timing

The initial progesterone test at the breeding exam gives us a baseline and lets us know where your dam is in her cycle. Our goal is to identify when the luteinizing hormone (LH Surge) is released, and when your dam ovulates. The first rise in progesterone correlates with the LH surge. The release of LH functions as a green light to your dam’s body, telling her when to ovulate and release eggs. The second surge in progesterone is when your dam releases her eggs, and usually comes about 48 hours after the LH surge. The eggs then spend 2 days in the fallopian tubes maturing and preparing for insemination. Semen needs to travel from the uterus to the mature eggs in the fallopian tubes. Insemination happens in the fallopian tubes. The eggs then travel to the uterus for implantation. Knowing when your dam ovulates lets us know the optimum time to breed and when to expect her to whelp. We can narrow the whelping date to 63 days +/- 1 day from ovulation. Timing is critical when planning a cesarean section, and useful if a natural whelping is planned. If you know when your dam is due, you will also know if she is in trouble and may require veterinary intervention. Everything in the dam’s cycle, from time to breed to time to whelp, is based on her LH and ovulation date.

table

Ultrasounds & Radiographs

30 days post ovulation we will recommend an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy and evaluate the health of the fetuses. We often rely on ultrasound to identify health concerns, and to ensure a healthy litter. Ultrasound is an unreliable way to get an accurate litter count, but it is important for evaluating the fetuses. We may recommend a follow up progesterone based on what we see, this is to ensure her hormone levels stay at the minimum required to maintain pregnancy and avoid resorption of the litter. First time dams are more likely to resorb their litters than those who have carried a litter before. Dams who do resorb their first litter can have perfectly normal pregnancies on following litters.

ultrasound
At 55 to 57 days post ovulation, we recommend a pregnancy x-ray. This will be required if we are planning a cesarean section. The purpose is to get an accurate puppy count. We will evaluate puppy size and placement in the uterus. If puppies are too large, unusually placed, or there are too few it can be an indicator for a difficult birth. The medical term for any disruption of labor is dystocia. If we feel it will be unsafe for your dam to whelp her litter naturally, we will recommend a cesarean section. Moving forward with a cesarean section is ultimately your decision, and our job is to provide support whatever you decide. If a cesarean section is warranted, we will schedule her at this time.
xray

Brachycephalic Breeds and Low Litter Numbers

In a high-risk pregnancy, our goal is to schedule your dam’s cesarean section after the fetuses are mature, but before your dam goes into labor. We will schedule you for a surgical evaluation one to two days before her due date. We will perform another ultrasound at that time looking for gut movement in the puppies. Gut and lung development happen at the same time in the neonatal puppy. Everything hinges heavily on proper progesterone timing at the beginning of her cycle. Without timing we must run additional diagnostics at the end of her pregnancy to ensure we are taking the puppies when they are mature. This leaves you at a greater risk of a late-night trip to the emergency veterinary hospital for a cesarean section with a doctor you don’t know. Good timing at the beginning of the pregnancy saves money at the end of the pregnancy and keeps us from having to guess when your dam is due.

Day of Surgery

The day of the cesarean section you will arrive the morning of surgery between 8 am and 9 am. We will ask you to withhold food and water beginning the night before to reduce the risk of aspiration. We will run a complete blood count and chemistry panel on your dam to identify any concerns with anesthesia so we can adjust our protocols to fit her individual needs. Bloodwork can ensure our anesthetic protocol and aftercare provides the best plan for keeping your dam and puppies healthy. Your dam will have an IV catheter placed prior to surgery, which means she will have a shaved patch on one of her front legs. We will use the IV catheter to provide fluids during anesthesia and to give any injectable IV medications necessary during surgery. Medications and anesthesia must be balanced to give the best outcome to dam and puppies. She will have an endotracheal tube in place during the surgery to protect her airway and reduce the risk of aspiration. She will receive gas anesthesia and oxygen through this tube during surgery. Once anesthesia is induced her temperature, heart rate, heart rhythm, blood pressure, carbon dioxide and oxygen levels will be monitored and recorded for the duration of the procedure. She will have the doctor and a technician focused solely on her.

dog in blanket
puppy

The Puppies

The puppies will be removed from their dam’s uterus and passed to our neonatal staff trained in puppy revival. We follow protocols recommended by the Veterinary Society of Theriogenology for neonatal resuscitation. With most cesarean sections we have one technician per puppy, larger litters may require two puppies per technician, with one technician monitoring all puppies moved to our incubator. Temperature, heartrate, and vitals are recorded on each puppy through the revival process. The puppies are given Nalaxone to reverse the effects of anesthesia. Puppies can have as much as 25% of their blood and body fluid retained in their placenta at the time of birth. During a natural birth this is pumped back into the puppy during the birthing process and after detachment from the uterine wall.

The puppy undergoing a cesarean section doesn’t have this opportunity, so we leave placentas attached to the puppy by their umbilical cord for 3 to 5 minutes after they have been removed from the uterus. If you watch the umbilical cord closely during this time you can see it pumping fluid back into the puppy. We want to allow the umbilical cord and placenta time to finish this process before removing the placenta. Once it is complete the umbilical cord will turn from red to white and will stop pulsing, at this point we can tie off the placenta and cut the cord. We tie off the cords with a small thin zip tie cut flush to its locking end after being tightened down on the cord. This has proven to be the most efficient way to clamp the cord without a bulky device getting in the way, or utilizing suture, which often unties before the cord has a chance to dry.
Once the puppies are spontaneously breathing and their cords are clamped, they are moved to our state-of-the-art incubator made by Puppy Warmer. The incubator provides heat to keep the puppies toasty as they continue to recover (remember, they were part of the surgery too!). We also have an oxygen concentrator and humidifier that continuously provides oxygen and humidity to the incubator. We monitor carbon dioxide, oxygen levels, humidity, and temperature while the puppies are in the incubator.
puppies on a blanket
puppy in hand

We continue to monitor their vitals until they are fully awake and angry at us. We love angry puppies! You know how everyone says you can’t rest in the hospital? This is true for your babies too.
We document heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, reflex response, and vocalization throughout the revival process. The data is recorded, and a modified APGAR score is calculated for each puppy. The puppies are weighed, and their umbilical cords are dipped in Vetricyn. You will see a small orange stain around the base of the umbilical cord once this is done. If we see meconium in their placental sac during resuscitation it means their lungs have been exposed to bacteria from the gut. This can cause aspiration pneumonia so we will give them an injectable antibiotic and send you home with an oral antibiotic to be given for 7 days.

puppies on table
Neonatal puppies are fragile and sensitive to their environment, so special care must be taken for them to live happy, healthy lives.

The puppies will be weighed, an expandable paracord ID collar will be place, and they will be given Vitamin K. Vitamin K is not easily transferred from the dam to the newborn puppies, and the puppies don’t yet have the gut bacteria to assist in making their own. This will help with the clotting process after birth. You will be provided with all this information in the whelping chart we will send home with you and your puppies. The whelping chart will include the puppies collar color, birth order, time, weight, sex, whether there was meconium in the placental sacs, and any medications we gave the puppies while resuscitating them. It will also include their APGAR scores through the resuscitation process, and their final APGAR score once fully revived. Everything we recommend for the puppies is based on what we see during the resuscitation process, the environment of the uterus, and the dam’s milk availability. If we lose a puppy or if there is a deformity this will be noted as well, and why we feel we’ve lost the puppy.

schedule
schedule
When we send home antibiotics, we also send home probiotics to assist in protecting the gut while on antibiotics.

If the dam has no milk, and cannot provide colostrum to the puppies, we will recommend fresh frozen plasma and oral colostrum. Fresh Frozen Plasma will provide passive immunity to diseases such as distemper and parvovirus. If the mother has no milk the puppies will not be able to receive protection from disease from her, and we will need to replace it with fresh frozen plasma. Oral over the counter colostrum sources can be beneficial for building the immune system, but cannot provide passive immunity, so both products work well together.

Bottle and Tube Feeding

In the absence of milk from the mother the puppies will either need to be bottle fed or tube fed. With either option there is a risk of aspiration, and we want to help you reduce that risk. We will make sure you have the training and tools necessary to do what is best for your puppies. Every breeder should know how to tube feed, and we can help teach you these skills. We know this can be scary, and sometimes mistakes CAN be made, but without proper nutrition puppies will fade.

It doesn’t matter if you are breeding for loving companions, performance, show dogs, or all three. When breeding and whelping a litter there are hurdles to jump and challenges to face. It takes dedication and commitment to be a good breeder, and sometimes it can be costly. Our goal is not to provide cheap medical care to your pregnant dam. Our goal is to maximize the number of live viable puppies you take home. If your preference is to cut corners and save money during the breeding and whelping process, then we are probably not the right fit for you.

dog in hay
two dogs
Our goal is to ensure you have the tools and knowledge to breed healthy puppies, and that starts with a healthy dam. If we feel your dam is not healthy enough to carry a litter and whelp safely, we will ask you to wait until the next heat cycle. We will work with you on a plan to get your dam in better condition for pregnancy. We will not take undue risks when providing breeding services.

Our goal is to provide your dam, and you by extension, with the quality of medicine that will have everyone returning healthy and happy in 8 weeks. Barring any major genetic defects, we can help make this happen. If we cut corners and provide poor quality care this would not be possible. We will not be your cheapest option, but we are one of your best options for safe breeding and whelping. We will support both of you through any challenges you may encounter. We try to remain competitive in our pricing, but we cannot provide a $800 cesarean section and set you up for success. We want to feel good about the care we provided for your dam and litter.

Our goal is to ensure you have the tools and knowledge to breed healthy puppies, and that starts with a healthy dam. If we feel your dam is not healthy enough to carry a litter and whelp safely, we will ask you to wait until the next heat cycle. We will work with you on a plan to get your dam in better condition for pregnancy. We will not take undue risks when providing breeding services.

Our goal is to provide your dam, and you by extension, with the quality of medicine that will have everyone returning healthy and happy in 8 weeks. Barring any major genetic defects, we can help make this happen. If we cut corners and provide poor quality care this would not be possible. We will not be your cheapest option, but we are one of your best options for safe breeding and whelping. We will support both of you through any challenges you may encounter. We try to remain competitive in our pricing, but we cannot provide a $800 cesarean section and set you up for success. We want to feel good about the care we provided for your dam and litter.

Pricing for a planned cesarean section with timing.

Brucellosis Testing (in house) $65.00
Progesterone testing $87.50 each (average of 3 to 5 for proper timing).
Pregnancy Ultrasound $85.00
Pregnancy Radiographs $100.00
The range of the below services is based on the condition of puppies at birth, resuscitation time and medications required during resuscitation, condition of the uterus and medications needed.

Planned Cesarean Sections with timing done through Idexx Reference Laboratory:

All patients going under anesthesia for any reason, including a cesarean section, must have a current brucellosis and heartworm test.
The cost of a heartworm test is $52.00.

Cesarean Sections:

under 40 lbs $1850.00 to $2150.00
40 to 60 lbs $1950.00 to $2250.00
60 to 80 lbs $2050.00 to $2350.00
80 and above $2150.00 to $2450.00

Emergency and After Hours:

Emergency and after-hours cesarean sections will incur additional charges. An emergency cesarean section on the weekend, or lasting past closing on weekdays will range from $2700.00 to $3500.00 depending on individual factors related to the situation. We provide the same service after hours and on weekends as we do during a planned cesarean section. However, we have to bring a team and doctor in during off hours, doing this incurs additional costs.

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