Pet Breeding In A Nutshell9 min read
PET BREEDING IS A LOT OF WORK
Countless people brought in XYZ purebred dog into my office and told me they were going to make a mint breeding the tiny puppy that was quietly wagging its tail at me. My response then was the same as now. Pet breeding will not make you rich. Pet breeding demands a lot of work and time plus financial obligations for medical care. On the other hand pet breeding is and can be a very rewarding experience.
The average dog or cat sexually matures at 6 months of age. Tiny dogs are mature right around 6 months of age while a Newfoundland can take about a year and a half to mature. Dogs will go into heat every six months like clock work. Most dogs come into heat in early spring and late summer. The cat is a totally different beast. They may mature at 6 months but they come into estrousThis is the time period when the female will mate with the male. There are four periods: proestrous, estrous, metestrous and anestrous. Proestrous is the phase where owners will see vaginal blood in dogs. It lasts about 7-10 days. Veterinarians do vaginal smears and can tell exactly when a female can be bred. When the female is out of estrous she will not let a male get near her! only when there is about 12-14 hours of light. Sort of like chickens!! That is why all the intact female cats go into heat the end of February and will continue nonstop till about late November. Most cats are not in heat in winter. Winter is a perfect time to neuter the females and their male and female progeny that were born the previous spring and summer.
Dogs and cats are multi-parous. That means that they usually give birth to multiple puppies or kittens. A small dog usually delivers around 1-5 puppies while a Rottweiler tops out at about 14 puppies. Cats will deliver between 3-5 kittens. One female cat can have countless numbers of litters (about 3-4) each year. They give birth and if daylight hours are just right she will go right back into heat. If you are going to breed an animal do not let the animal get pregnant so young. Yes, she can deliver live fetuses but under 1 year of age her pelvic diameter (birth canal) is too immature for a large fetus to pass through. This happens frequently when a large male mates with a small female. Pet breeding situations sometimes are hilarious. I once had a Yorkshire Terrier pair that the father and son were trying to mate. The problem was that the male was so small he was too short to mate with the female. The problem was solved by using the Columbus, OH Yellow Pages for him to stand on. It worked! He became a proud father 60 days later! Wait till her second or third heat cycle before breeding the female. Make sure she does not get around ANY intact males. And yes, male dogs can penetrate a female dog right through a chain link fence!
HOW DO I TELL SHE IS IN HEAT?
That is a good question and it is important to understand where pet breeding is concerned. The important thing to remember is the time of year so that you can be aware of biological changes that are occurring. In most dogs there will be a visible enlargement of the vulvar area. It is easily seen when looking at the female dog from behind. Female dogs will also show varying degrees of vaginal bleeding. Dogs do not menstruate. Dogs do not have periods. Only human females and primates menstruate. Menstruation is a sloughing of the woman’s uterine endometrium (inner uterine lining). Canine bleeding is vaginal in origin. Bleeding is not often obvious as many animals will clean themselves in the genital area. In tiny dogs this is often difficult to observe since everything is so tiny! There may be only drops of blood that can easily be overlooked.
Cats will have none of the above. There is virtually no vulvar enlargement and no bleeding. The easiest way to detect a female cat in heat is by her behavior. Estrogen is flowing all over the place. She becomes lovey dovey, rubbing up against you like you are the best thing since sliced bread. She prances around with her tail fluttering and her rear end up in the air!! All mammals secrete a variety of pheromones; chemicals that attract the opposite sex. If you suspect that she is in heat take a look out your window and you will probably notice an intact male cat standing on each street corner. If you are still wondering if she is in heat just look at the calendar. If it is May or June she is in heat.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
For reproduction or pet breeding to occur there has to be a male and a female. I am not talking about in vitro fertilization just normal reproduction. Both sexes should receive physical exams and be brought up to date on ALL vaccinations. This is most important in the female. Passive antibodies (short term protection against diseases) are secreted in the mother’s first milk. This milk is known as colostrum. These antibodies are extremely crucial for newborns until they start their own vaccination program at 6-8 weeks of age. Both sexes should undergo simple blood tests for Brucellosis (Brucella canis); a debilitating reproductive disease in dogs that leads to early abortion of the developing fetuses as well as fertility problems in both sexes. I have yet to see one case and that is good. Brucellosis is highly transmissible from animals to man. The biggest fear is the bovine (cattle) version, Brucella abortus. Due to hard work by veterinarians at the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Bovine Brucellosis is non existent in the United States.
Once the female is pregnant it is important to increase the quality and volume of food that she receives. She needs calories for her own system plus that of the developing fetuses and lactation. A good idea is to start the female on a high quality puppy formula such as Iames®, Hills® or RoyalCanin®. Small toy breeds should receive a supplement of calcium to prevent eclampsia; a depletion of maternal calcium leading to seizures. The most commonly used supplement is Pet Tabs® CF.
THE END OF THE LINE
Once 60 days of pregnancy have been reached it is close to start the waiting game. If you know when the dog got mated (often several times) write the dates on your calendar and add 2 months to that for an approximate delivery date. If the female in heat got loose and you do not have any idea if she was mated check for weight gain and a distended or pendulous abdomen. If your veterinarian has ultrasound, fetuses can be picked up at about 3-4 weeks of age. Regular radiographs can pick up fetal skeletons in the early third trimester. After that they are obscured by rapidly produced amniotic fluidThis fluid is a clear watery substance that cushions and protects the developing fetus. The fetus is basically suspended in the liquid while attached to the mother by the umbilical artery and vein (placental attachment). When you hear that someones water just broke they are referring to the rupture of the amniotic sac and release of the amniotic fluid through the birth canal and out the vagina..
It is time for those puppies and kittens to be brought into the world! One great thing about dogs is that you will know when she will go into labor. Several days before labor is supposed to start take her rectal temperature twice daily. Normal dog body temperature is 101.5-102.0 F. When you first see it at 96-97 degrees she will start labor within 24 hours. Always. By this time you will have purchased or made a whelping box. Cats will deliver their kittens wherever they feel like it. Shoe boxes, closets, pile of dirty laundry etc… The main object is to leave the animal alone and not distract her. If she can’t open up the amniotic sac with her teeth use your clean fingers to break the membrane. Using a piece of thread tie a knot over the puppy’s or kitten’s umbilical cord about one inch from its body wall.
If contractions begin but stop for 2 hours or longer take the female to your veterinarian for a physical and vaginal exam. If you wait much longer you risk a separation of the placenta with an eventual stillborn delivery. The mother may be too tired to bear down or the puppy or kitten is being delivered feet first. Oxytocin, a stimulant of uterine contractions, is given. This often jump starts the contractions. If that fails the female requires a Cesarean section.
If you think pet breeding is too much work, it can be! You then may be more inclined to read Pet Neutering Benefits are a Plus. For me personally, delivering live puppies and kittens was always one of the most rewarding parts of my job. Newborns are just so cute. For a lot of people pet breeding may require tons of work but it delivers much pleasure also. No pun intended!