Fertility problems in the female dog

There are several causes of infertility (inability to conceive) in the bitch, but most times it is due to an infection in the womb or in other parts of the reproductive tract (cervix, vagina, etc).  We will deal with this topic (endometritis infection the womb) at a later stage.  But even now it should be understood that infections of the reproductive tract could be a result of hormonal imbalances which create a fertile environment for the invasion and multiplication of germs.

Hormonal problems which create an irregular heat cycle (see August 12, 19, 2012, and below) or physical ovarian disorders which could have an impact on the hormone production in the ovary also can all create conditions whereby the female cannot conceive.

Other causes of infertility would be associated with genetic disorders (abnormal genes and chromosomes).  Of course, it is not easy to identify or know about these genetic malfunctions, and it is even more difficult to treat them.

I would like to return to the topic of abnormal heat cycles (oestrus cycle) which was alluded to in the second paragraph above. Some bitches come into heat every four months and others once a year.  As a bitch grows old, her heat periods become less regular and in some cases will not be accompanied by ovulation (the discharge of the mature egg out of the ovary).

In some cases, bitches will skip a heat period.  This is not too unusual. Often a bitch’s heat is irregular, being either longer or shorter than normal.  When a bitch stays in heat longer than three weeks, this usually is considered as abnormal.  Cystic ovaries (ovaries that continuously produce estrogens) keep dogs in heat for several weeks or months and may require surgery.

An infection of the uterus can give signs similar to heat, in that a discharge is seen, but the female is not receptive to the male.  When there is a prolongation of heat, the bitch should be examined by your veterinarian to find out what is causing the problem.

Many cases thought to be lack of heat (anestrus) are really a ‘silent’ type of heat which is not noticed, or the bitch goes in and out of heat in a few days, so you could not have noticed it.

Some females are quite fastidious and lick themselves clean.  If you are not familiar with the size of the normal vulva, you may not notice the swelling, and you won’t see the blood coming out of the vagina.

Next week, we will deal with some other causes for abnormal (even lack of) heat, but which are associated with hormones other than those (sex hormones) involved specifically with reproduction.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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