Female dogs are the most complicated species I have had the joy to work with. In my opinion, that’s what makes them so interesting, but that is also why an ovulation detector is helpful. Ovulation detectors are a portable device that helps determine the optimum time for breeding or when an effective progesterone draw can be done.
Using a Dog Ovulation Detector
When a breeder wants to monitor the ovulation cycle to get a better handle on when to breed, many people turn to ovulation detectors for help. This hand-held tool is useful, but keep in mind, like all new equipment, it has a learning curve. Therefore, it’s best to first use an dog ovulation detector on reliable females so you can better understand what the detector is telling you.
Once you know what the numbers mean, you can quickly follow a female’s ovulation cycle or know when to run a progesterone test on a problem female to pinpoint her ovulation time. Following both your experience and the ovulation detector gets you the best results.
Why Use a Dog Ovulation Detector
Remember standing heat lasts anywhere from three to 21 days. Females have the same standing heat every time, but that number will vary from female to female. If you have a new female and don’t know her heat cycle or how she bred the last heat cycle, you can figure that out using your ovulation detector for dogs.
Ovulation detectors get you in the ballpark, so you do not use the males too early or too much. Breeding early is not effective and your females have less chance of uterine infection with fewer breedings. Knowing the right time to breed will keep your males sperm count up at ovulation when effective egg fertilization requires high numbers of sperm for success.
An ovulation detector also tells you when to run a progesterone test on unreliable females. If you are managing a problem female breeding, the ovulation detector tells you when she is close to ovulating. That way you can do a blood draw and run a progesterone test to pinpoint the optimum time to breed. By using the ovulation detector, instead of running five progesterone tests, you’re going to run only one or two to get your answer. That means fewer trips to your veterinary clinic and better time management to get the answers you need.
How Ovulation Detectors Work
Canine ovulation detectors work by analyzing the mucus in the female’s lower reproduction track. The detector picks up resistance in the mucus and measures changes in the mucus discharge caused by hormones. It is an indirect way to measure the changes in hormones that occur during ovulation.
Insert the probe and rotate it to pick up mucus on the probe. Allow the probe to warm to body temperature before taking a reading, usually about one minute after insertion. Once the probe is warm, you can take a reading. Rotate the probe to pick up mucus and take another reading and rotate and take a third reading. The probe will then give you the lowest reading for you to log on your chart. Chart these readings and watch for a trend. You will follow a rise in readings that will eventually level off. Then you will see a spike and that signals ovulation. Keep in mind though, the numbers will be different with each female but similar for each heat cycle for the same female. Each female needs her own chart, so during the next breeding, pull the chart out to know what to expect and log readings again. Ovulation probes help you manage breeding success.
Canine Ovulation Detectors with AI
An ovulation detector can help artificial insemination be more effective. When AI dog breeding, you have a sperm hand-grenade of four billion sperm and a five-day ovulation window to hit; three days before ovulating and two days after. If AI breeding doesn’t work, it’s most often because the female is bred at the wrong time, usually too early. It is easier to pinpoint the ovulation target with an ovulation detector.
Remember when a female goes from “you’re so cute” to “get out of my face” she is ovulating and does not want to be bred again. Ovulation detectors get you close to that time, without missing her standing heat.
Progesterone Testing in Dogs
When a new dog has entered her heat cycle, when is the best time to breed her? Dr. Marty Greer, a leading veterinary expert in canine reproduction talks about progesterone testing and when should a dog get progesterone tested.
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Written by: Donald Bramlage, DVM
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.