I received an interesting question on infertility in canines today… which made me realized that I did not have a blog specifically on this. How come ? As a repro specialist, I had to do something. So here it is !
Quick reminder: there is one thing all repro specialists agree on.
#1 cause of infertility in canines is mistiming of the day of breeding.
That is why progesterone tests are recommended to determine the day of ovulation and therefore determine the best time to breed the bitch.
However, what happens when you do a proper timing of ovulation, you use a male dog that is known to be fertile because he had puppies recently, the bitch is perfectly healthy and in optimal body condition… and despite all your efforts and all the efforts of your veterinarian, she is still NOT pregnant?
That’s a question I’m asked on a regular basis. Those cases are those complex mysteries we are always trying to crack.
And let’s be fair, the differential diagnosis list could clearly go on and on.
Infectious diseases are always something to consider. I think of one disease in particular named canine brucellosis (my two cents: if you breed dogs, you MUST know about this one, read this blog here ).
I am a big fan of ultrasounds, I think each infertile bitch that is seen in consultation should get one to evaluate the aspect of the ovaries and the uterus. Uterine disorders are a common cause of infertility as well, and for some of them, the only clinical sign is definitely infertility (check our previous webinar on the topic )
As you can see, there are many potential causes. However, you know what I often hear or see in the field ? Or what I read a lot on Facebook forums?
“The bitch is infertile: it MUST be a bacterial infection. Which antibiotic is needed here? “
I definitely don’t think that is the right approach to take in those cases.
Don’t get me wrong, bacterial infections can cause infertility. In my experience however, they usually come with clinical signs: vaginitis that can be detected with vaginal smears or even better endoscopy, vaginal discharge…
In a world where antibiotic resistance is on everyone’s lips, we need to be careful in the way we use those antibiotics.
And I can tell you one thing: they are NOT the go to solution when it comes to canine infertility.
Since 2009, we have been talking a lot about a disease called endometritis, an inflammation of the uterus that can disrupt fertility.
Endometritis is not detectable with standard ultrasound techniques. Some studies have already shown that close to 40% of breeding bitches could suffer from this problem.
Endometritis is an inflammation. When we give some thoughts to what is responsible for this inflammation, I’m not going to lie, the first thing that usually comes to mind is still bacterial infection.
A recent study from Argentina highlighted on the slide above looked into this. They did uterine biopsies on 56 bitches during routine spay and neuter surgery. For each case, they also sampled the uterus to perform bacteriology.
They diagnosed endometritis in 33 bitches (which confirms that this problem is definitely not uncommon). However, the part I find interesting is that they were able to grow bacteria from the uterus… in only ONE case.
Their conclusions: endometritis is common AND more importantly, “bacteria appear not to be relevant in endometritis pathogenesis.”
To make it simple: it does not appear to be a bacterial disorder. Antibiotics are not needed.
I guess now that the question which is one every one’s lips is the following: “Great we know that endometritis is a common cause of infertility. How do we deal with it?”
Stay tuned because that will be my next blog’s topic !