How To Increase Litter Size with Progesterone Blood Testing

Familypet Vet - litter of puppies

Progesterone testing has been a household name amongst breeders for several years now by breeders that take their craft seriously.

Familypet Vet - dog breastfeeding puppies

We all know that identifying the ovulation time in your breeding bitch will give you a better chance of a successful mating and more puppies. Which is what every breeder wants at the end of the day.
The progesterone test doesn’t always follow the physical signs the breeding bitch is displaying. So even if you are a master at reading your female dog’s oestrus cycle you might still be wrong because it doesn’t always signal ovulation when you think it is happening. Many breeders have been caught out.

Having a singleton litter is not very cost-effective and it might even cause problems since a single puppy is usually very large and very likely to cause problems at birth. The reason you ended up with a singleton litter is usually because most of the eggs had gone passed their fertilisation stage or hadn’t got there yet when you mated your bitch. You got lucky with one egg.

To maximise your chances of a larger litter it is important to know when ovulation actually occurs. This is done with progesterone testing. Taking a small blood sample and running it in-house (results in 2 hours) or sent off to the lab will give you this accurate time. On ovulation, the progesterone level spikes and the eggs will take 2 more days to become fertile. This will give you the window to organise the stud dog.

Familypet Vet - hands holding newborn puppy

When to breed depends on the sperm you are going to use:

So if the stud dog is handy mating should happen on day 2 and 4 after ovulation. With chilled sperm day 2 is your ideal day. Frozen sperm should be used on day 3 and preferably with surgical AI.

Because you are very accurate with your breeding you will catch the highest number of fertile eggs at the right time.

Progesterone will make it easier to predict due date. This will be exactly 63 days after ovulation.
To make sure the pregnancy goes smoothly and reduce the risk of abortion it is prudent to check the progesterone level during pregnancy and supplement with progesterone if it drops before the due date. A low progesterone level is one of the common reasons for abortion and easily fixed.

If you live in the Adelaide Hills and would like to come and chat with one of our team about the in-house progesterone machine we have available. Please give us a ring on (08) 8370 3500.