Hedgehogs to Llamas: The McMaster DIY Faecal Egg Count

Hedgehogs to Llamas: The McMaster DIY Faecal Egg Count

Simple, reliable and cost effective, the McMaster slide Faecal Egg Count (FEC) test equips you to monitor the parasitic load and intestinal health of your pet, commercial and rescue animals.

Left untreated, parasitic intestinal worms in animals from hedgehogs to llamas and alpacas can cause serious illness and even death to infected animals.

A wide variety of parasitic worms can reproduce inside loved and valuable animals. Infection spreads through millions of microscopic eggs shed into the faeces of even one host animal to contaminate shared bedding, stabling, pasture or foodstuff.

Impact Of Covid 19 On Routine Faecal Parasite Egg Monitoring

For pet, commercial and rescue animal keepers, restricted access to routine veterinary monitoring was one of many distressing side effects of the Covid 19 pandemic.
Managing the risks to animal health, even by such readily treatable conditions as parasitic intestinal worms, became much more critical in the absence of regular and reliable testing.

Do It Yourself Diagnostic Faecal Egg Counting (FEC) Techniques

Conveniently, for pet, commercial and rescue animal keepers, the veterinary standard diagnostic for intestinal worms can now be simply, reliably, and economically carried out as a DIY in-house test.
Although microscopic parasitic intestinal worms can be difficult to observe and identify, their eggs – and their potential to cause significant further infection – are larger and more easily observed and identified.

Identifying Intestinal Worms And Estimating Parasitic Load

Identifying and estimating an animal’s ‘parasitic load’ uses pre-prepared solutions and basic laboratory equipment, readily available from Vetlab Supplies. Vetlab’s easy-to-follow laboratory method guides you through the taking of samples, preparing the test, examination under the microscope and identifying the type and likely numbers of parasitic intestinal worms.
The straightforward method is known to veterinary surgeons as the McMaster Slide FEC (Faecal Egg Count) Test. A laboratory standard since 1939, The McMaster Slide is basically a small glass cavity of known volume with a calibrated transparent cover that can be viewed under a microscope.

The McMaster Slide Standard Laboratory Faecal Egg Count (FEC)

The McMaster Slide Test relies on the simple fact that, in specified flotation solutions, parasite worm eggs float, while most of the other solid matter in animal faeces tends to sink. So if the number of parasite eggs in a measured weight of faeces can be counted, then the parasitic load in the animal’s digestive system can be easily calculated.
And, because the eggs of different parasites have different characteristics, so the careful use of a veterinary microscope and a guided choice of specific flotation solutions, the type and species of intestinal worm can be identified for relevant treatment and control.

Identify Parasites With Off The Shelf Or Custom Made Flotation Solutions

Vetlab Supplies offers a range of off the shelf and customised faecal flotation solutions ideal for general and species specific egg count testing. Matching the density (specific gravity) of the flotation solution to the density of the target worm species eggs allows a qualitative as well as quantitative estimate of an animal’s parasitic load.

For McMaster Slides manufactured in glass and robust acrylic, together with all necessary flotation solutions, as well as economical easy to set up and use microscopes, just click or search Vetlab Supplies F.E.C Kits & Equipment


For further information visit our website www.vetlabsupplies.co.uk or call 01798 874567

Cost Effective Canine Ovulation

Cost Effective Canine Ovulation

Test Kit Keeps Dog Breeders on TARGET

TARGET Canine Ovulation Timing Kit equips breeders with a simple, reliable test to predict the best time for mating or insemination maximising the efficiency of their facilities, and protecting the health of their breeding bitches.

Planned Pregnancies Enhance Breeding Health and Efficiency

Managing a healthy and efficient puppy breeding programme depends on the ability to find the time of mating or insemination most likely to result in pregnancy.

Planned pregnancies mean litters of pups can be timed to match resources and avoiding unwanted, wasteful pregnancies that might threaten a bitch’s breeding health.

Reliably Targetting the Best Breeding Dates

In the past, dog breeders have relied solely on the visible signs of a bitch’s readiness to breed. These physical indications are only an approximate indication of the best time for mating or insemination.

For today’s breeding kennels, the support of a more scientific and reliable method of predicting the best time to initiate breeding is available in the TARGET Canine Ovulation Timing Kit.

Rising Progesterone Indicates Breeding Readiness

By experience, breeders are familiar with the early signs of ‘coming into heat’ (oestrus) indicating that the bitch’s womb (uterus) is being prepared to receive and nurture her embryo pups.

Preparation of the womb lining (endometrium) is triggered by rising levels of the hormone progesterone in the bitch’s blood. Rising progesterone levels indicate that the bitch’s ovaries are primed and ready to release eggs (ovulation) for fertilisation by a male’s sperm from mating or insemination.

Supporting Breeders with Scientific Reliability

Testing for rising progesterone in blood serum, from a bitch showing early signs of heat, gives breeders a more certain prediction for ovulation, best dates mating and likely delivery of her litter.

The TARGET Canine Ovulation Timing Kit provides a simple, rapid, progesterone monitoring test to determine the days most likely to result in a successful mating or insemination.

Rapid and Reliable Colour Change Test

Serum samples for TARGET progesterone testing are simply prepared from a blood sample using a veterinary laboratory centrifuge. The whole testing procedure is completed on the kit’s convenient sample disc using the reagents supplied and in less than ten minutes.

The deep blue colour reaction, indicating little or no progesterone present, clearly distinguishes the negative result from the colourless positive response revealing the high hormone level necessary to successful, immediate mating.

Two Further Hormone Test Kits Help Breeders for Success

TARGET Canine Ovulation Test is one of three veterinary diagnostic test kits supporting vets, breeders and animal charities. FASTest LH monitors changing Luteinising Hormone (LH) levels as a further method of determining the best time to mate, while FASTest RELAXIN helps confirm that a bitch is pregnant or exclude a false or pseudo-pregnancy.

To find out more about this range of veterinary diagnostic test kits visit our website www.vetlab supplies.co.uk or Telephone us: 01798 874567

Pregnancy Test for Dogs and Cats

Pregnancy Test for Dogs and Cats

Helping Breeders and Rescue Centres

For breeders, vets, animal charities and re-homing and rescue centres, knowing if a dog or cat is pregnant is a crucial question. FASTest RELAXIN provides the fast, simple and accurate answer.

Planned Pedigree Mating or Unknown History Rescue

For breeders with a planned breeding programme and concern for the health of their breeding females, reliable testing for a successful mating or insemination is essential.

For animal re-homing and rescue charities, the possibility that a new acquisition may be pregnant is a critical factor in the animal’s treatment and future prospects.

FASTest RELAXIN is an easy to use and simple to interpret diagnostic for an existing pregnancy, and a convenient indicator of pseudo-pregnancy (false pregnancy) and suspected spontaneous abortion.

Specific Indicator of Pregnancy in Dogs and Cats

The pregnancy hormone, relaxin is a specific indicator of pregnancy in dogs, cats and other carnivores. During pregnancy, Relaxin is produced within the ovaries, and by the placenta which sustains life in unborn pups and kittens.

Relaxin production begins as soon as a fertilised egg implants in the wall of the uterus (womb). Clinical tests show that relaxin can be detected in serum samples from week 4 of pregnancy in dogs, and from day 15 in cats.

Relaxin levels rise quickly during pregnancy and remain high throughout. A fall-off is a sign of abortion or reabsorption of an unviable foetus, although levels may be sustained for up to 14 days after a failed pregnancy.

Monitored Relaxin Levels Help Prepare for the Happy Event

The hormone relaxin helps the expectant mother to meet the extra demands of pregnancy; raising the heart’s capacity to circulate the blood and increasing the flow of blood through the kidneys.

Relaxin also relaxes the ligaments of the pelvis easing the passage of the newborn through the birth canal. Monitoring the rise in relaxin provides a means of timing when ovulation and fertilisation took place, and so helps estimate the arrival date of the resulting litter.

While relaxin levels may confirm a pregnancy, they do not indicate how many pups or kittens might be expected. Ultrasound or other visualisation techniques may be required to estimate the likely number and viability of new arrivals.

One of Three Test Kits Supporting Breeders and Charities

FASTest RELAXIN is one of three veterinary diagnostic test kits supporting vets, breeders animal charities and rescue centres. FASTest LH monitors changing Luteinising Hormone (LH) levels as a method of determining the best time to mate, as well as helping determine when the litter will arrive. TARGET Canine Ovulation Test further helps breeders plan pregnancies so that litters of pups can be timed to match resources, avoiding unwanted, unhealthy and wasteful pregnancies.

To find out more about this range of veterinary diagnostic test kits visit phone us on 01798 874567 or email

Dog Breeders Plan Litters With LH Hormone ‘Surge’ Test Kit

Dog Breeders Plan Litters With LH Hormone ‘Surge’ Test Kit

For dog breeders planning an efficient mating and rearing strategy, predicting the date of ovulation is a critical indicator of the ideal mating and likely date of whelping. Detecting the surge in Luteinizing Hormone (LH) equips vets and breeders to ascertain to date of ovulation.

LH Controls Ovulation Timing and Prepares For Pregnancy

Luteinizing Hormone (LH) is one of several important chemical messengers (hormones) produced by the pituitary gland, which sits just beneath the base of the brain.

When LH is released by the pituitary, it starts a chain reaction that ultimately results in the release of eggs (ovulation) from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes where fertilisation normally takes place. The fertilised eggs pass down the tubes to the uterus (womb) where they implant and develop into the growing foetus, nourished and fed via the placenta and umbilical cord.

LH also stimulates the formation of the corpus luteum. This is a structure that develops in the ovary after ovulation and produces the pregnancy-maintaining hormone progesterone. Progesterone prepares the lining of the womb (endometrium) for pregnancy, and acts on the pituitary to prevent further ovulation.

LH Surge: The Key Indicator of Ovulation In 36-48 Hours

For animals in the wild, a surge of LH production ensures that ovulation only occurs when there is the best chance of successful mating, and that subsequent offspring will have the best chance of survival in the womb, and of reaching maturity themselves.

This surge of LH production is a key indicator of when ovulation is likely to occur. Reliably detecting the LH surge allows dog breeders to not only arrange the time of mating or insemination, but also estimate the likely arrival date of litters.

Infertile bitches, the LH surge is followed by ovulation 36-48 hours later. Typically, the ideal time to mate a bitch and achieve the best chance of fertilisation is 4 to 6 days after the LH peak.

Fast Colour Change Test Detects LH Peak in Bitches

FASTest LH is the simple and reliable on-site test for predicting the time of ovulation, mating, artificial inseminating and likely birth date. This 20 minute, colour-change test detects the Luteinising Hormone (LH) peak in the serum and plasma of dogs. This test is also applicable to cats.

Starting 4 to 5 days before the likely start of the oestrus cycle, testing at 12 to 24-hour intervals will show negative LH results up to the LH surge. Possible positive results are re-tested after 2 hours. If the second test is positive, and a follow-up 24-hour test is also positive, then peak LH production is indicated.

Trio of Test Kits Help Vets and Breeders Plan with Success

FASTest LH completes a trio of veterinary diagnostic test kits supporting vets, breeders, and animal charities. TARGET Canine Ovulation Test measures progesterone levels as a further method of determining the best time to mate, while FASTest RELAXIN helps confirm that a bitch is pregnant or exclude a false or pseudopregnancy.

Visit our website for information about our  veterinary diagnostic test kits or Telephone: 01798874567


Key Role For Vets In Animal Activities Welfare Act

Key Role For Vets In Animal Activities Welfare Act

The 2018 Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations, governs the trading, breeding and boarding of cats or dogs, also the hiring out of horses and the keeping or training animals for exhibition. The Act confirms veterinarians as central to animal welfare and the control of infectious kennel diseases such as Parvovirus and Canine Distemper.

Animal Welfare Protection and Regulation in One Comprehensive Act

The new law, which came into force on 1 October 2018, places all the regulations governing animal breeding, selling and boarding in England into one comprehensive Act. The new Act reinforces the legal protection of commercially housed animals from the risk of suffering and disease. This protection is particularly relevant to kennels and commercial puppy breeding establishments.

Commercial Dog Husbandry Standards Raised and Modernised

Previously, the setting and enforcing of standards in dog breeding and boarding centres was spread over a number of animal welfare acts including the Pet Animals Act 1951, Animal Boarding Establishments Act 1963, Breeding of Dogs Act 1973, Breeding of Dogs Act 1991, Breeding and Sale of Dogs (Welfare) Act 1999 and latterly the 2006 Animal Welfare Act.

Registering and Licensing and Dog Breeders and Sellers

Some of the Act’s most significant features relate to health care and welfare standards in boarding kennels and dog breeding establishments. The housing of dogs and puppies under strict hygiene standards, and in accommodation that can be easily cleaned and thoroughly disinfected, is now mandatory in all commercial dog facilities.

Detailed record keeping is made mandatory and open to inspection. Records must include information on veterinary treatments, disease control, preventative healthcare and cleaning routines. The emphasis on health care and disease prevention confirms the central role of the veterinarian in the effective operation of the 2018 Act.

Online Advertising Standards and Puppy Health Aftersales Planning

The Act stipulates that breeding establishments must register their licenses with their veterinary surgeon and agree an on-going health care plan to accompany all puppies sold. Online advertising of dogs for sale must include details of the seller’s licence number, country of origin and country of residence.

The 2018 Animal Activities Welfare Act creates a legal requirement for dog breeders, boarders, trainers and traders to protect their animals from suffering and disease.

By providing expert advice relating to hygiene and husbandry, together with early diagnosis of emerging threats, Vets play a central role in the prevention and containment of canine diseases including ‘social risk’ infections such as Parvovirus and Distemper.

For further information about our diagnostic test kits Telephone: 01798 874567 or visit our website www.vetlabsupplies.co.uk

BOAS Constriction in Dogs

BOAS Constriction in Dogs

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome

Kennel Club figures show a 3000% rise in ownership of pugs, bulldogs, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih Tzus and boxers since 2007. Yet many owners remain unaware of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) and other health issues common to flat-faced, brachycephalic dog breeds.

Brachycephalic – meaning ‘short head’ – causes a squashing-up of the soft tissue within the dog’s nose and mouth. Folds of skin around the face further narrow and obstruct the dog’s airways causing wheezing, snorting and the struggle for breath that characterise flat-faced dogs that suffer Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome. But it’s not just breathing that’s a problem for flat-faced dog breeds.

Brachycephalic dogs can’t move enough air through their narrowed airways

In hot weather, we humans cool ourselves by sweating. Dogs can’t sweat. So when they’re too hot they have to cool down by moving more air over their moist tongues and airways. That’s why we see dogs ‘panting’ when they’re too hot. Brachycephalic dogs can’t move enough air through their narrowed airways so can easily overheat and even die in hot weather.

Flat-faced dogs still have the same number of teeth as longer nosed breeds. Fitting all 42 teeth into a shortened mouth causes overcrowded teeth to overlap making teeth and gums harder to keep clean and free from decay and disease.

High risk of conjunctivitis, ulcers and even sight-loss

Skin-folds around the face provide a hiding place for fleas, disease-carrying mites and other irritants that can cause hair loss and fungal skin infections. Shortened muzzles cause the eyes to stand out more allowing the thin film of protective moisture to dry more quickly risking conjunctivitis, ulcers and even sight-loss.

Selective breeding has so effectively accelerated the evolution of the larger head-size of flat-faced dogs that other, naturally evolving, parts of the anatomy haven’t been able to keep up. Brachycephalic bitches frequently require a caesarean section to deliver their pups. Pet charity, The Blue Cross, report that more than 80% of English Bulldog and French Bulldog pups are delivered by C-section births.

Pressure for change

Pressure for change is coming from a number of concerned sources. The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Campaign for the Responsible Use of Flat Faced Animals (CRUFFA) have begun educating advertising agencies against using flat-nosed dogs in ad campaigns. The more extreme breed standards are under review by The Kennel Club and other international breed regulators.

But the most effective pressure may yet prove to be economic. The increased risk of corneal ulcers and breathing problems in brachycephalic breeds means that owners are likely to have to pay more when insuring flat-faced breeds, with Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) and related conditions possibly excluded from their insurance cover.

To find out more about our large range of veterinary diagnostic test kits visit our website: www.vetlabsupplies.co.uk or Telephone: 01798 874567

Lower Lambing Season Losses

Lower Lambing Season Losses

Fast Field Test for E.coli- K99 Pathogen

The first lambs of the lambing season are here and full of the joys of the spring yet to arrive. Delivering as early as the second week in January, the most productive ewes will give birth to twins or even triplets, with quadruplets not uncommon and the occasional delivery of quintuplets.

Large numbers of new-borns fail to thrive

Sadly, the arrival of so many newborn lambs over a relatively short time span can result in a large number of new-borns failing to thrive early, sicken or die. In well managed flocks, mortality among newborn lambs is reported to be as low as 5%, but loss rates can be as high as 20% in extreme circumstances. Every lamb lost is damaging to the economic survival of Britain’s highly pressured sheep farms.

High mortality among newborn commercial animals

One all too common cause of high mortality among newborn commercial animals is pathogenic E.coli infection. A particularly pathogenic strain of the common gut bacteria, Escherichia coli, is known in veterinary laboratories as E.coli-K99. The K99 tag refers to a molecular feature on the surface of the E.coli bacteria that differentiates it from other, less harmful strains. The feature effectively disguises the invader from the host animal’s protective system of search-and-destroy ‘phagocyte’ cells that normally seek out and engulf unwelcome bacteria rendering them harmless. Unrecognised by infection-fighting phagocytes, the multiplying bacteria infiltrate the host animal’s digestive system causing severe tissue damage and resulting in dangerous fluid loss through uncontrollable diarrhoea.

Identifying pathogenic E.coli infection

Veterinary laboratories have exploited the K99 marker as a means of identifying pathogenic E.coli infection, allowing treatment with antibiotics that can also identify, target and destroy bacteria with the K99 antigen.

The ability to quickly and confidently identify K99 E.coli is vital because severe diarrhoea and dehydration is deadly not only in newborn lambs, but also in calves and piglets. Diarrhoea in newborn animals can have multiple causes, including infection with enterotoxic Rotavirus, Coronavirus, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella and Giardia, so it can be difficult to make a quick diagnosis based on symptoms alone.

Rapid and reliable – all-in-one veterinary field test

Vetlab Supplies FASTest E.coli-K99 Strip is the genuine go-anywhere veterinary field-test for E.coli-K99 in lamb, calf and piglet faeces. Rapid and reliable, the all-in-one kit requires no refrigerated storage or laboratory equipment to produce a quick, clear-cut, colour change diagnosis of K99 infection.

FASTest E.coli-K99 Strip, and other Vetlab Supplies veterinary diagnostic kits provide timely and reliable support to the veterinary examination of animals suffering pathogenic digestive tract infections.

To find out more about our large range of veterinary diagnostic test kits visit our website: www.vetlabsupplies.co.uk or Telephone: 01798 874567

The Mating Game – Breeding Assistance Dogs Isn’t A Game of Chance

The Mating Game – Breeding Assistance Dogs Isn’t A Game of Chance

The breeding of assistance dogs, under the supervision of the UK Guide Dogs National Breeding Centre. Each mating is carefully planned to guarantee the health and welfare of each breeding bitch and their potential pups.

Most assistance dog pups are born in the homes of volunteer puppy carers though many are born at the UK Guide Dogs NBC in Leamington Spa. Pups born at the centre are introduced to the sights and sounds of the domestic environment – including TV, radio, washing machine and vacuum cleaner noise, by teams of volunteers. Breeding never begins before a bitch is 19 months old and the breeding career ends after seven years.

Avoiding consecutive pregnancies

Great care is taken to avoid consecutive pregnancies giving a bitch time to recover from the stresses of pregnancy and motherhood before any further mating. Breeding bitches give birth to no more than 4 litters and never more than 5. A fifth litter is only allowed under exceptional circumstances and only with veterinary approval.

Planning the breeding of assistance dogs means breeders must know when a bitch is most fertile, known as ‘in oestrus’. The oestrus cycles of bitches that live mostly outdoors is influenced by seasonal, environmental factors including changes in day length. Bitches ready to mate and conceive are referred to as ‘in season’ and show behavioural changes described as their being ‘on heat’.

Recently, researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Nottingham, together with NBC staff, studied the oestrus cycles of breeding bitches kept mostly indoors. They found that, sheltered from seasonal variations, the number bitches ‘on heat’ at any one time was evenly spread throughout the year.

Breading centres require accurate knowledge

Breeding healthy puppies, maintaining the welfare of breeding bitches and efficiently manage the resources of a breeding centre requires accurate knowledge of when a bitch is about to come into season. In the absence of the defined ‘breeding season’ of outdoor and wild dog populations, breeders and managers must rely on other indicators of bitches breeding condition.

Monitoring changes in the bitch’s hormone levels is the most accurate way to predict ovulation and the best time for mating. TARGET Canine Ovulation Diagnostic Test Kit measures the level of the hormone progesterone, enabling breeders to predict the best time for conception – the period 5-6 days after the initial rise in Progesterone.

Following mating, pregnancy can be confirmed and monitored with the FASTest RELAXIN test; especially useful in excluding pseudopregnancy (false pregnancy) and where there are worries about any possible spontaneous abortion.

Further testing with TARGET Canine Ovulation Diagnostic Test Kit toward the completion of pregnancy will help breeders of assistance dogs prepare for the arrival of the litter, and to martial their resources quickly and efficiently.

To find out more about our large range of veterinary diagnostic test kits visit our website: www.vetlabsupplies.co.uk or Telephone: 01798 874567

Kennel Club’s 3 Things Not To Do When Choosing Your New Puppy

Kennel Club’s 3 Things Not To Do When Choosing Your New Puppy

Over the 2016-17 Christmas fortnight of 20 December to 2 January, Dog’s Trust received 127 unwanted dogs and puppies – a 54% increase above the figure for the same period in 2015-16.

More than 300 animals given shelter

Over the whole of the festive season, the charity gave shelter to more than 300 animals but also received an average of 70 calls a day from people wanting to give up their dogs in the weeks immediately before and after Christmas.

The Dog’s Trust launched its ‘‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas’ not just for Christmas’ for the 1978 festive season. Back then, the charity was known by the more formal title of The National Canine Defence League.

The slogan, created by Clarissa Baldwin OBE, chief executive of the Dogs Trust since 1986, first hit the streets of Britain as a sticker campaign for 20,000 car windows and bumpers. Since then, the charity’s strap-line has gained an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and is now a registered trademark.

Online sales provide unscrupulous puppy dealers with the anonymity they need

In the 70s, many high street pet shops still sold puppies and kittens to casual buyers. Although this aspect of the pet trade has largely disappeared from the UK, it has been replaced by the practice of buying pups through online ads and social media contacts.

The internet can be worse for pups than a pet shop. Online sales provide unscrupulous puppy dealers with the anonymity they need. Reliable breeders will want to promote, not hide, themselves and will be more than keen to let you know who and where they are.

Reputable breeders are usually enthusiasts for the breed rather than the sale mostly specialising in one breed. They’ll be happy to provide you with pedigree and vaccination certificates – including distemper, parvovirus, kennel cough, leptospirosis and parainfluenza, respond positively to your requests to meet the pup more than once and even return your purchase if the new arrival proves unsuited to your lifestyle.

Choosing a registered breeder 

Choosing where to get your puppy is just as important as choosing what sort of puppy you want. You shouldn’t be bounced into a panic buy – especially at Christmas. If you know a highly regarded, Kennel Club Assured breeder, be prepared to on their waiting list. And always stick to the club’s 3 big don’ts: never buy a puppy from a pet shop, never pick your puppy up from a meeting in a car park or motorway service station and never buy a puppy because the seller made you feel like some sort of rescuer.

To be sure you’re doing the best for your new canine companion, for yourself and for everyone devoted to dog health and welfare. Make sure your puppy comes from a registered breeder such as a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.

To find out more about our large range of veterinary diagnostic test kits visit our website: www.vetlabsupplies.co.uk or Telephone: 01798 874567

Planning for a Happy Event – TARGET Canine Ovulation Test Kit

Planning for a Happy Event – TARGET Canine Ovulation Test Kit

Successful dog breeding requires perfect timing. Bitches come to their breeding peak only about twice a year. So knowing when your bitch is ‘in season’ or ‘on heat’ is essential whether you’re mating her with a specially chosen dog, or artificially inseminating with semen.

For as long as the breeding of dogs has been deliberately managed, breeders have wanted to know the days when a bitch is most likely to conceive. Breeders have watched their bitches for physical signs including bleeding and discharge from the vulva (the reproductive opening) or just when the animal became receptive to the approaches of male dogs.

Microscopic examination of samples from the bitch’s vulva also gave important clues to a bitch’s reproductive state. Cells that line the birth canal change their shape and appearance as the time of ovulation draws near. At ovulation, eggs are released from the bitch’s ovaries to be fertilised by sperm in the semen of a male dog. This needs to happen two to three days after ovulation or the opportunity could be lost for another 6 months.

Monitoring the changes in hormone levels

The time of ovulation is governed and controlled by a balance of hormones secreted into the bloodstream. While these other predictors of ovulation are useful guides, a more direct and precise method would be to monitor the changes in hormone levels.

One of the key hormones in canine ovulation is the hormone `progesterone`. This is made in the ovaries and detected in blood samples. Progesterone levels in bitches 2 to 4 days before the ovaries release their eggs.

Rising progesterone levels and imminent ovulation

The TARGET Canine Ovulation Kit is a simple all-in-one box method for predicting canine ovulation from a bitch’s blood progesterone level. Pre-ovulation, the kit returns a bright blue result. A pale blue colour means quickly rising progesterone levels and imminent ovulation. A clear white result, normally 2 days after ovulation, indicates the ideal time for successful mating or insemination.

High progesterone levels are maintained by the placenta if fertilisation occurs, but fall back to their low pre-ovulation state if the eggs are not fertilised and no pregnancy follows. High progesterone levels during pregnancy maintain the blood supply to the placentae feeding the growing pups, and prevent premature contractions of the uterus (womb).

About 58 to 60 days into a bitch’s pregnancy, the progesterone levels begin to allow for contractions and birth. If there have been complications, and a C-section birth seems likely, then tracking the falling levels with The TARGET Canine Ovulation Kit will help determine the optimal time for C-section delivery.