Controversies in ovulation timing (Proceedings)
The practice of ovulation timing has become increasingly useful to veterinarians who recognize its value in improving reproductive services. Accurate ovulation timing improves conception and facilitates breeding management. Popular stud dogs' owners commonly permit a limited number of breedings (usually 2), and may need to prioritize bitches based on ovulation timing. Owners of bitches need to make travel arrangements in advance, and usually wish to minimize time spent at the stud dog facility. Boarding of bitches in season can be abbreviated by recognition of the end of their fertile period. The use of extended, chilled, or frozen semen and the management of breedings using subfertile stud dogs require ovulation timing to optimize conception. Improved litter size occurs with properly timed breedings. Proper ovulation timing permits accurate evaluation of gestational length, important when managing parturition, and is essential in the evaluation of apparent bitch infertility.
Many elements of breeding management are now performed by motivated dog fanciers. Breeders may learn the technical skills associated with obtaining and evaluating vaginal cytologies from their veterinarians, and purchase inexpensive microscopes and staining systems. Some breeders have even invested in the equipment for obtaining and centrifuging blood samples, for evaluation with counter top semiquantitative progesterone kits. Others prepare serum samples and deliver them to commercial laboratories for quantitative progesterone assays. It is common practice for breeders to perform artificial insemination with fresh semen, but the use of extended chilled semen or frozen semen requires veterinary participation, according to AKC. Non veterinarians can freeze canine semen. Even so, eventually, professional input by a veterinarian or veterinary technician is sought for interpretation of these results.Clinical Reality
Clinical ovulation timing generates clients and income. This benefit may be offset by the time consuming nature of the breeder client, the technical skills required for performing proper ovulation timing, and the necessity of a solid understanding of canine reproductive physiology. If a veterinarian is not comfortable with canine reproductive physiology, they are unlikely to be enthusiastic about undertaking the practice of breeding management. Breeder clients typically request "emergency" ovulation timing appointments, which frequently turn into "emergency" artificial insemination appointments, often with semen evaluation required. It is logical that practices offering ovulation timing should offer expert artificial insemination as well. Client education is a large component of breeding management. Without proper practice management groundwork, ovulation timing and breeding management can become a chaotic component of a veterinary practice.
The investment in equipment for optimal ovulation timing is modest by practice standards today. Cotton tipped applicators, routine diff-quick stains, frosted glass slides, a light microscope, venipuncture equipment and a centrifuge for processing blood are likely already present in the small animal practice. In house kits are available from several companies for performing semiquantitative progesterone and luteinizing hormone assays. Commercial veterinary laboratories commonly provide quantitative progesterone assays with rapid turnaround (12 to 24 hours). Some veterinary theriogenologists advocate the use of human laboratories for quantitative progesterone assays, once validated for use in the dog. Rigid pediatric proctoscopes used for vaginoscopy are inexpensive by endoscopic standards and easy to maintain. The newer rigid cystourethrasopes used for trans cervical catheterization can be used for ovulation timing vaginoscopy as well, but are significantly more costly.