Dog Breeding – Heat Cycle Management
Last updated: November 18, 2021 by Dr. Marty Greer, DVM, and the Revival Education Team
Managing breeding dogs involves getting the dam and sire as healthy as possible so that they can do their jobs. Dogs with dietary deficiencies often slow or stop cycling. Providing proper nutrition will restart their cycles. As the days get shorter, cycling often slows, but a 100 watt light placed 10 feet from their kennel will usually prevent this issue. Dogs need about 14 hours of light a day, so supplement their natural exposure with four hours of artificial light in the evenings. In the spring, the longer days trigger male sperm count to increase, and female's ovaries become more active again.
In September and again mid-February, we want to evaluate females and determine who has not raised babies in the past eight months. Dogs who have not been mothers in the past eight months should have their heat cycles triggered to correct this issue; the goal is to get them back to a normal cycle every six to seven months. Common issues seen the past 10 years include unpredictable or delayed heat cycles, females starting in heat then backing out, and split heats, where they come in, go out, and come back in. You can correct these undesirable circumstances with nutrition management.
Improving Dog Fertility
- Evaluate the females in your kennel to see who is overdue for heat cycles. It is common to have 10 percent of females well overdue, but a greater percentage suggests a need to correct the kennel's nutrition. Often, if we have not changed brands of food, the company has reformulated the diet. If your moms cycle predictably every six to seven months, their diet is okay.
- Look at your females – are they in good shape or overweight? Overweight dogs often lack some nutrient or vitamin and overeat to compensate for this shortage. A balanced diet should correct this.
- Females intended for breeding would benefit from additional supplementation while they are not cycling or pregnant. Breeder's Edge® In Between For Her provides additional vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to keep her in top shape. Females that are not cycling, have a heavy vaginal discharge , a bad odor to her vaginal discharge , large past litters, or prolonged, silent cycles should always be given Breeder's Edge® B Strong liquid or powder to support a healthy reproductive system before the next breeding.
- Progesterone testing the dam is very important when managing breedings. A progesterone test is a blood test that can be run at your veterinarian's clinic, can be sent to a reference lab by your veterinarian, or can be run by you if you invest in specialized equipment (V-tech Bionote). By doing serial progesterone tests, you can identify when the dam ovulates, plan the breeding, and identify when she will whelp.
- It can be safer and more effective to introduce the male and female to one another for limited periods of time when they can be observed. This will reduce the chance of injuries to either the dam or stud as well as allow you to know that a tie occurred. Allowing the male and female to be housed together means you cannot verify a mating occurred, and can lead to aggression or mating injuries.
- Put males over four years old on Breeders' Edge® Oxy Stud for three months to maintain sperm count and fertility. Oxy Stud is perfect for sub-fertile males with low sperm counts. Then, maintain his nutrition with Breeders' Edge® In Between for Him .
Consult your reproductive veterinarian for a male plan to make sure he is healthy and in the best condition for breeding. Breeder's Edge® Problem Male and Breeder's Edge® Get Him Going are two products that may help with male fertility, libido, and sperm quality.
If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.
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.
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.