Managing Your Valuable Brood Bitch
(Content taken From Dr. Marty Greer Revival Animal Health)
Female Dog Breeding
What do you need for breeding dogs? First, we want to talk about physical condition of our female. It’s really important that they’re an ideal body condition, neither too thin nor overweight at the time that we want her to go into heat and start becoming reproductively active. If you were to take the back of your hand, make it into a fist and feel across your knuckles, that’s what her ribcage would feel like if she’s too thin. We don’t want to be able to feel ribs as thin as this. Ideal body condition is going to be what you’d feel on the heel of your hand.
Once they become overweight, then we really get into where they’re just too chubby. So we want to make sure that they’re not that heavy. We want to make sure that we can feel ribs, but not just feel squishy. We don’t want to put them on a diet at the time that we’re going to start breeding. We want to make sure that she’s ideal going into a heat cycle, not too thin and not too heavy.
What Tests Should I Do On My Dog Before Breeding?
The second thing I want to mention is health screening, primarily brucellosis. Canine brucellosis is a disease, a bacterial disease that we see in dogs. It still exists. It hasn’t been eradicated from the Canada or in most countries from around the world so it’s really important that we’re still keeping an eye on these dogs for canine brucellosis. It is a bacterial disease, but it is also a bacterial disease that is zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted to people. It’s of particular concern if we have young children, older people who are immunocompromised or a woman who may be pregnant.
Mycoplasma in Breeding Dogs
The third disease that we can see is mycoplasma. There are some dogs reported coming in from the Eastern European countries that do probably have mycoplasma. Treating the dogs if they’ve got some fertility issues with Doxycycline or other appropriate antibiotics both male and female can improve fertility in those dogs. So be aware that that’s a concern.
Those are primarily the diseases that we can see that are infectious, that can cause influences in pregnancy and reproductive health.
Can You Vaccinate a Pregnant Dog?My question for you now is which vaccines are safe to use during pregnancy? The answer to that is none. We don’t vaccinate any female dogs during pregnancy for any vaccines. Not for rabies. Not for anything.
What is the Best Diet For Breeding Dogs?
I want to mention is carbohydrates. We know that our pregnant females and females that are lactating to produce milk for their puppies need to have carbohydrates. They need carbohydrates to grow their puppies in the uterus, and they need carbohydrates to lactate. So they cannot produce milk. They cannot make nice big fat puppies for you if they’re on a carbohydrate free diet. Grain free diets make me a little nervous. I prefer a feeding carbohydrate diet that contains rice, barley, corn, wheat, milo all of those are appropriate unless your dog has food allergies. And if you do have an allergic dog, you probably should talk to your veterinarian about how inherited that’s likely to be sending it on to your puppy. Look hard at the labels of your foods before you’re feeding them that that we’re using an appropriate diet for the breeding dogs that we’re expecting to have puppies.
The problem that we also see with the grain free diets is we can see cardiomyopathy, which is a heart problem. There’s a dilated cardiomyopathy that about 30% of the dogs on with the cardiomyopathy seem to be related to a diet that’s grain free. There is a genetic form. There is a form that we haven’t completely figured out which are the other two forms. But around a third of the dogs that are developing these recent dilated cardiomyopathy are probably on a grain free diet, which is a potato and pea based diet. The other concern I have with peas isn’t just the heart, but there’s also a lot of phytoestrogens in the peas, legumes and beans that are in these diets, which probably interfere with the female’s fertility and potentially the males as well. We don’t have as many studies on that as we should at this point, but those things will be coming. So please keep your ears open and try to avoid the bean, pea and legume based diets during pregnancy and lactation. Potatoes in the sweet potatoes are probably okay, but they tend to be paired with the peas, legumes and beans. I would just encourage people to use the diets that are corn, wheat. Those are great nutrients that we see in many dogs. The corn, wheat, barley, oats, milo, unless you have an allergic dog, dogs are going to generally be better off on those types of sources of carbohydrates than they are on the other.
Folic Acid for Pregnant Dogs
Folic acid for pregnant dogs is a really important nutrient in the development of healthy puppies and healthy babies. We know from studies in dogs and in humans that a folic acid deficiency can promote or lead to an increased risk of midline defects. Midline defects are going to include cleft palate, spina bifida, open up abdominal walls. There’s a number of midline defects that we see. And what a midline defect is when the right and the left side of the embryo don’t grow together and form a normal body cavity. Folic acid can be used to reduce the incidence or the risk of that. It should be fed from about six weeks prior to the time that you want the female to become pregnant through to day 40 of the pregnancy.
There is folic acid in the dog prenatal Breeder’s Edge Oxy Mate. There is folic acid in Breeder’s Edge B Strong, but you may need to increase the amount of that, particularly in some of the breeds that are at risk. Short face dogs are the ones that are at increased risk of cleft palate. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re the only breeds that have cleft palate. We can see them in any breed. They can also be related to using certain drugs like trimethoprim sulfa during pregnancy. It’s really important that we’re avoiding those drugs and that we’re using folic acid supplements in dogs at risk.
What Does B Strong Do For Dogs?
Breeder’s Edge B Strong comes as a powder, and it comes in a liquid. From our clinical experience we know B Strong improves the quality and the frequency of heat cycles. If we have a female that’s being fed an appropriate diet of Purina, Royal Canin, and Eukanuba, one of those diets, and she’s not cycling with the frequency or not cycling at all that we would expect her to, that our first recommendation before we use any kind of drug intervention is to put her on B Strong along with the appropriate nutrition. A diet change, if that’s indicated, along with B Strong for the diet, seems to really make a big difference.
One of my own personal technicians at our practice had a dog that was three years old. She works in my reproduction department, not the dog, the technician. She had come in and said that her female hadn’t ever had a heat cycle and because she works in my reproduction department, I’m pretty sure she knows what a heat cycle looks like. So I said to her, “Well, what do you want to do about it?” She said, “Well, I want to put her on a medication to bring her into heat because I want to have a litter.” And I said, “No, no, no, not until we do B Strong.”
So we put her on to B Strong. I said, “If in 14 days she’s not in heat, then we’ll talk about it again.” And on the 14th day she sent me a photograph of the dog’s south end, because she clearly had started her heat cycle. She went on to have seven puppies. So we know that they’ve produced really well as soon as we’ve got them cycling. B Strong can make a huge difference in their quality of the heat cycle and the frequency. If you’re having difficulty with fertility in your females, start by looking at nutrition and adding the B vitamins. We don’t feel that there’s probably enough B vitamins added to the commercial diets as it seems that they’ve changed over the years. If you used to have no trouble and ten years ago you started to see a change or you’ve changed nutrition on the diet, take a look at this as a as a possible solution to your problem.