On the next day, after breeding with a male. Fertilization
of ova may take anywhere from 48 to 73 hours. For pregnancy diagnosis in dogs, several methods are used. Some methods like using dog pregnancy symptoms such
as evaluation of teats, weight gain, and abdominal enlargement are not reliable
methods of pregnancy detection. More reliable methods include abdominal
palpation (30 days gestation), measuring the level of relaxin hormone in the
blood (26 days gestation), ultrasonographic examination of the abdomen
(starting at 21- 30 days gestation), and radiographs (after 45 days gestation).
These methods vary in their ability to positively identify the number of
foetuses and fetal viability.
ovoid swellings can be palpated along the uterine horns 21-30 days post
breeding. These swellings double in the size every week until days 35 to 38;
they then become confluent and difficult to differentiate. Palpation is not as
reliable as other methods for evaluating pregnancy. It is Difficult without
experience to determine the exact number of foetuses and fetal viability cannot
be verified with palpation.
is a hormone that is produced by the Placenta and found in the bloodstream of
the bitch when the fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall, about 21 days
post breeding (3-4 weeks). This hormone continues to circulate through the
blood throughout the pregnancy, peaking around day 40 to 50. Witness Relaxin,
Relaxin Pro, ReproCHEK are the current test kits in the market that measures
relaxin. This test can be used to determine pregnancy and can be used
continuously throughout the pregnancy to verify if total abortion has occurred.
Pseudopregnant bitches do not test positive for election. This test cannot
determine the number of foetuses present in the bitch. A false negative is
possible if the litter size is very small. It may be cost effective in
comparison to ultrasound. And relaxin based diagnostic test kit results are fast,
accurate and reliable and seldom gives a false reading.
Female dogs naturally produce higher
levels of progesterone for two months after the stages of heat cycle. It
is regardless of the breeding or mating.
Therefore levels of progesterone in a female dog are not a reliable indicator
is the best method used to visualize and evaluate the pups in the womb. Ultrasound
is the best done 21-30 days after breeding. Ultrasound done prior to 21
days can give false negative results. Ultrasound is a good method to
differentiate between pregnancy and pyometra/ pseudopregnancy. Fetal viability
can be determined by ultrasound through visualisation of fetal heart. The number
of foetuses can be estimated, though it can be less accurate in bitches
carrying larger litters, or when done later in gestation.
Fig: Ultrasonograph showing foetus in pregnant female dog
28 days into pregnancy, the bones of the foetus begin to become calcified. At
42 -45 days of pregnancy, radiographs can be taken to visualise the pups
in-utero. However, for best results, radiographs should be taken more than 47
days post-breeding, when fetal skeletons are more readily visible. Radiographs
can help in determine the number of foetuses, though it is less accurate in
bitches carrying larger litters. Fetal viability cannot be determined by
radiograph unless advanced lesions exist in the foetus, such as skeletal
collapse or gas within the foetus.
Radiograph - Showing single foetus in the uterus (Spondylosis L1-L2)
Pseudopregnancy / False Pregnancy /
Canine Pseudocyesis: in
this case a female dog exhibits same physiological symptoms of pregnancy like
enlarged abdomen, weight gain, milk let down but foetus is not actually
present. Best way is to rule out pyometra / mucometra / pseudopregnancy is
Will a human pregnancy test kit work for dogs?
Ans: No. Pregnancy test kits designed
for human are based on hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which is found only
in women. Urine is used in such test kits while female dogs are tested for
relaxin hormone which is found in blood.
Que: Are there over the counter tests / tests kits available
for pregnancy diagnosis in dogs?
Ans: No, relaxin based test kits are available through resgistred vets or can
be purchased online through websites / suppliers. But will need blood/serum to
perform the test.
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