"The Heat is On!"
Yes, we just broke some heat wave records in Vermont last week, and on Independence Day, (right on schedule!) Intske began her heat. What does that mean? She has transitioned from ANestrus into PROestrus, which will then transition into ESTRUS, which is when we breed!
Last heat cycle, Intske was ovulating on day 14-15; what is your guess for this cycle?
In this illustration, you see purple and bluish cells - sampling those cells is called "cytology", and on Friday July 6th, Intske's cytology fit into proestrus, with a lot of the little dots all around; those are red blood cells (RBC). As time goes on, and her progesterone rises, her cytology will show those cells breaking, getting more angular than rounded edges, which is called "cornification". Many breeders think of this as going from "Cheerios to Cornflakes" when you first learn about cytology. Cytology can also tell us when it's most important to test for lutenizing (LH), because the LH peak occurs when she transitions into estrus.
You'll notice, in the estrus panel above, that the LH peak occurs, Ovulation occurs, and then two days later (the numbers in red, 4-6) is when conception can occur. That's because the eggs are ovulated not fully matured, and take up to 2 days or so to become ready to fertilize.
The veterinarian looked at Intske's cytology, did a digital exam to make sure there were no abnormalities of her birth canal (like "strictures") and also took a blood sample which was sent to the lab for progesterone testing. They also did an important Brucellosis test. Every breeding dog should have one, as it pops up around the country here and there, and isn't something you want your dog to get or pass on. It is a zoonotic disease, able to be transmitted to humans, though that is rare.
Intske is in fine health and fit for breeding with these checks and all of the breeding qualification testing submitted to the Ameri-Can Stabyhoun Association, including hips, elbows, Cerebral Dysfunction (CD), temperament, conformation.
Intske's progesterone on Friday July 6 was 0.7 ng/mL. We will start to get prepared to breed once she creeps up on 4.0 ng/mL, so we will test on Mon-Tues or Wed - Thurs - Friday most likely. Once we see an increase of about 4 points (like 4.0 jumping to over 7 or 8.0), we expect that ovulation is occurring; then and we will also retest that blood sample for her LH level for that time frame.
The beauty of LH and progesterone testing is that it allows us to ship chilled semen for insemination at the right time, maximizing our chances of conception, or if doing a natural service, it can tell us when to bring the two together.
Testing can also pinpoint the whelping date to day 65 +/- 2 days from day 0 which is the day serum LH peaked , which is useful and important if there are other circumstances that require intervention (like a c-section).