Educational Articles

Dogs + Breeding

  • Eclampsia in dogs is an emergent condition of hypocalcemia that generally occurs one to four weeks after whelping but can also occur shortly before giving birth. Risk factors include a poor diet, small breed dogs, abnormal parathyroid gland, and calcium supplementation during pregnancy. Signs of eclampsia start as restlessness, panting, and stiffness and can progress to disorientation, tremors, inability to walk, and convulsions. Treatment includes intravenous fluids, careful intravenous calcium supplementation, and other supportive medications. This is followed by oral supplementation and weaning puppies as soon as possible or supplementing their diet with milk replacer.

  • Female dogs will have their first estrous (reproductive or heat) cycle when they reach puberty. Each cycle consists of several stages; the stage called estrus refers to when the female can become pregnant. This handout explains the cycle stages and signs as well as how to prevent mating and pregnancy in your female dog.

  • Estrus (heat) begins when a female dog reaches sexual maturity and occurs about twice per year, although it varies from dog to dog. From the beginning of a female’s estrus period, she will be attractive to male dogs, though she will usually not be receptive or allow mating until seven to ten days into her cycle. The time of mating is extremely critical and it is highly recommended to have your female tested to determine the optimal days for breeding.

  • False pregnancy refers to a display of maternal behaviors combined with the physical signs of pregnancy following estrus in unspayed female dogs that are not actually pregnant. Signs include mammary gland enlargement with or without the production of milk, lethargy, periodic vomiting, and fluid retention. Mild cases typically are not treated; however, if your dog appears physically ill or the behavioral changes are severe enough to cause concern, treatment may include tranquilization and treatment with diuretics. If your dog will not be used for breeding, ovariohysterectomy is recommended.

  • This handout discusses the need for ensuring your pregnant dog is receiving adequate nutrition to make sure both she and her puppies thrive during this time of increased demands on her body. Feeding and diet suggestions are provided.

  • Special attention needs to be given to a dog’s nutrition during her pregnancy to promote a healthy birth and healthy puppies. It is important to maintain a good body condition throughout pregnancy as her weight increases. A good quality adult maintenance diet is recommended during the first 40 days but after this the energy demand increases greatly and this is most easily met by feeding puppy food. This diet is usually fed throughout the lactation period, but attention to body condition is essential here as well, and the diet may need to be restricted if there is a small number of puppies or the dog starts becoming overweight. Weaning is usually aided by feeding significantly less food for a few days while restricting access to nursing to decrease milk production.

  • All dogs evolved from a common ancestor and over the course of tens of thousands of years, evolution (mainly driven by humans looking for specific behaviors and characteristics) created the multitude of breeds in existence today. Humans started breeding dogs for pleasure in the 19th century and this led to dog shows and an intense diversification of the dog species into over 400 breeds recognized today. DNA tests can be performed on mixed breed dogs to determine their breed ancestry.

  • Hemophilia A and B are clotting disorders involving a deficiency of a specific clotting factor (A: Factor VIII, B: Factor IX) needed for appropriate homeostasis. They are caused by a sex-linked recessive genetic mutation. Affected dogs will show inappropriate hemorrhage including bruising, lameness induced by bleeding into joints and body cavity hemorrhage. It can be diagnosed with a slow APTT and demonstrating low levels of the factor involved. Hemophilia A is more common than B and is generally, more severe. Because it is sex-linked recessive, males are more likely to be affected than females but females still act as carriers, so genetic screening is important prior to breeding to prevent this disease.

  • Infertility in a female dog is defined as the inability to conceive and deliver viable puppies, even when mated multiple times with a known fertile male surrounding the time of ovulation. This handout outlines the varying causes of infertility in female dogs and how they may be diagnosed and treated.

  • Infertility in a male dog is defined as the inability to produce a successful pregnancy in a fertile female, even with multiple breedings near the time of ovulation. The causes of infertility fall under three broad categories: failure to copulate or ejaculate, poor semen quality, and prostatic disease. This handout explains the possible causes in detail, as well as methods to diagnose and treat them.