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Canine Infertility

Infertility In The Stud Dog.

Stud dog sub – fertility can have many different causes. We recommend that a complete physical exam with semen evaluation be performed by your reproductive veterinarian. Low sperm count, poor motility and structural abnormalities of the sperm can be caused by a number of things. Heat and stress can cause good sperm to go bad overnight. Bacteria and/or mycoplasma can interfere with the testicles ability to produce normal sperm. These types of infections can be contracted from natural breedings, but they can also be contracted at dog shows, kennels or almost anywhere that dogs frequent. Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) can cause decrease semen quality as well. Sperm defects are sometimes classified into primary and secondary abnormalities depending on whether the defect was caused during production or damage caused during ejaculation.
Heat and stress – Excessive heat from outdoor tempuratures or travel can destroy semen quickly. Stress from travel, surgeries, dog shows or other causes can also have an detrimental effect on sperm. Once the problem is solved, semen can regenerate to usable levels within one to three months.
Bacterial infections and /or Mycoplasma in the semen (click for further info) – Overgrowth of bacteria and/or mycoplasma can adversely affect sperm morphology, motility and production. Semen cultures, when evaluated in conjunction with poor quality semen can diagnose pathogenic bacteria, mycoplasma and/or ureaplasma (we prefer Michigan State University’s test – Semen culture and sensitivity with added ureaplasma and mycoplasma -speciated). Beta strep, E-coli, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas and other bacteria in abundance should be treated by your veterinarian with the appropriate antibiotics. Mycoplasma Canis and Mycoplasma Cynos are pathogens that have been shown to significantly reduce fertility. All infections should be treated with appropriate antibiotics as soon as detected. Doxycycline is the best available choice currently available for Mycoplasma (currently needs to be compounded). Frequently a combination of antibiotics are needed to resolve many infections. Please contact your veterinarian for the appropriate treatment. Some Mycoplasma’s (not Canis or Cynos) and bacteria’s can be considered “Normal Flora” in the absence of fertility problems.
Beta Hemolytic Streptococcus – Beta Strep has been found to cause serious infertility problems in both male and female reproduction. Beta strep should almost always be treated with Ampicillin.
Prostate problems can cause blood in the semen and sperm abnormalities. A full prostate exam should be preformed and an ultrasound is recommended where available. Infections should be treated and medications specifically for the prostate are sometimes recommended i.e. Finasteride.
Anatomical problems of the testicles may also cause defective sperm morphology; supplements are most likely not effective in treating this type of sperm problem.

Infertility In The Bitch

Infertility in the bitch can be caused by a variety of reasons. We recommend that a complete physical exam be performed by your veterinarian as well as the following tests to detect possible reasons for missed litters.
Thyroid Levels – Thyroid levels should be in the upper third of the normal range for optimum fertility. Michigan State University provides a complete thyroid test that detects levels of T4, Free T4, TT3, TSH and other values that can be used to determine if supplementation should be started.
Vaginal Culture & Mycoplasma speciation at Michigan State University – Overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and/or mycoplasma can adversely affect conception. Beta strep, E-coli, Pseudomonas and other bacteria in abundance should be treated with either the appropriate antibiotics and/or a vaginal douche prior to breeding (but not within 24 hours of breeding for douching). Mycoplasma Cynos and Mycoplasma Canis are pathogens that should be treated with antibiotics. Clavamox is an acceptable antibiotic for pregnant bitches, but antibiotics such as Enrofloxacin (Baytril) or Doxycycline should only be used up to 10 days after the first breeding. After ten days, the embryos will implant and the drugs may adversely affect the puppies.
Beta Hemolytic Streptococcus – Beta Strep has been found to cause serious infertility problems in both male and female reproduction. Beta strep should be treated with Ampicillin. Some say that once diagnosed with beta strep, antibiotic treatment should be always be used starting the week prior to breeding for 2 weeks and then again for the last 2 weeks of pregnancy.
Irregular heat cycles – A bitches uterus must rest for six months between cycles in order for the uterus to be able to maintain a pregnancy. Bitches that cycle more frequently i.e. every four months, are more prone to Pyometra ( a life threatening infection of the uterus) and infertility. Bitches that cycle less frequently are also prone to missed litters and Pyometra.
Progesterone Testing – Progesterone timing is important for ensuring that the bitch was bred at the proper time. Some bitches will come into season ansd even stand for breedings without ovulating. In these cases, sometimes referred to as a “split season”, the bitch will usually come back into heat within a month or two and ovulate quickly this time. A post ovulatory progesterone result is always recommended to confirm ovulation. Progesterone testing also provides very valuable information for determining when a bitch should whelp or when a cesarean section should be performed.
Also see Tuskegee University’s report regarding infertility.