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Breeding, Nutrition

Dog Breeding – Triggering Heat

August 11, 2022

Dog Breeding – Triggering Heat

Last updated: August 2, 2016

Female dog problems are a popular topic among breeders, but the truth is, most females have no problems. Dogs do everything to maintain their body, and if there is excess nutrition or vitamins, they reproduce.

Dog Not Going Into Heat

The number one issue that costs us money is females that are not cycling. If we have a number of females not cycling, the first thing to look at is the diet and vitamins. Poor-quality protein and imbalanced vitamins can be the cause; you can correct cycling if they have the right diet, vitamins, and minerals. Inadequate diets often show up on the next litter. Mom gets pregnant, then has a deficiency in gestation and nursing, and eventually skips heats because of it.

In the wild dog pack, one or two alpha females will cycle, while the rest do not. There may be four or more females, but their ovaries will stay in anestrus (quiet ovary) and out of heat. This is good – the best genetics will breed while the rest contribute to feeding. Skipping heats can send normal adult females into anestrus, as well.

Avoid Skipping Heat

It’s hard on moms if you rest them and intermittently breed them. Typically, the first litter after the “rest” or “skip” is difficult for her, and there will also be fewer weaned puppies than average. If we do a good job feeding and whelping females, giving them everything to help them do their job, they can cycle again without issue at their normal six to seven month interval.

We also see this phenomenon in the kennel with the young female. We’ll skip heats to get the dog physically and mentally ready to raise a litter, but some will stop cycling. Small breeds, especially poodles, are notorious for doing this. This dog can easily be started again!

How To Make Your Dog Go Into Heat

If several females are not cycling, make sure everything is normal with their diet. Ask your veterinarian for help if there is any debate.

Supplements for Breeding Female Dogs

Put the female dogs on a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. More vitamin and mineral issues have been diagnosed in the last few years – there are many reasons, but the important thing is that they are easy to correct. While triggering heat, we want optimum levels of all vitamins in the female but B vitamins are critical when moms aren’t cycling. Breeder’s Edge® B Strong provides the necessary B vitamins to get mom back on track.

Once mom is cycling again you can vary her vitamin and mineral supplementation based on breed. Small breeds generally do best if we keep them on B Strong. For large breeds, we switch to Doc Roy’s® Daily Care Extra.           

Most dogs will not cycle when there is less than 12 hours of light. Mother Nature tries to be sure babies are not born in snowstorms. If you don’t have lights, wait until spring. A good date for triggering heat cycle in natural light kennels is after Feb 14th.

Lighted kennels: Put them under lights at least 12 hours. Spectrum is not as important as the light intensity. A bulb of at least 100 watts is needed within 15 foot of the female. This is why keeping them in the house does not work. In kennels with good natural light, turning the kennel lights on from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. usually does it.

Trigger Cycling

In pigs, P.G. 600 is the hormone used to start cycling in gilts. It knocks the scar tissue off the ovary, allowing the ovary to start cycling. Dogs also respond well to this if other methods such as supplementation with Breeder’s Edge® B Strong haven’t worked. Most will be in heat by the third week.

Manage the young female who is old enough to breed, but is not cycling. We are successful at triggering these maiden females to cycle again using PG 600 and nutrition. Once triggered to start, healthy females cycle regularly.

If That Doesn’t Work

Most will trigger to start cycling (70 percent) if they have the ability. The next step is to ultrasound the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, but most of these issues will prevent the female from ever getting pregnant. Remove the female that is not cycling from the breeding females and replace her with one selected from a “push button female” – one who breeds easily and loves to raise puppies. Moms that are easier to handle and love being moms are much easier to manage effectively.

Managing females is all about getting the sire and dam’s genetics to the next generation. A consistent, predictable, fertile heat cycle is the basis of getting that done.

If you need help with a dog not going into heat, call us at 800.786.4751.

-Dr. Bramlage
Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health

Donald Bramlage, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, practiced veterinary medicine for 30+ years and is known for his work in managing parvovirus. He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University in 1985. He served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.