Infertility in dogs may be defined as the failure to produce puppies. It may occur due to many reasons. While some of the reasons may be physical defects or physiological disorders in either the male or the female, infertility may result from problems with the timing of mating too. For successful reproduction, synchronization between the ovulation in the female and the introduction of the semen into its reproductive tract is important. Unless mating is timed accordingly, it may not lead to successful reproduction.
The ovulation cycle of female dogs and the sperm generation and ejaculation in males are controlled by the nervous system, the reproductive system, and the hormones produced by the endocrine system. Any abnormalities in any of the above may result in infertility.
In female dogs, some of the common reasons for infertility, besides wrong timing of mating, are faulty estrous cycle, absence of ovulation, and problems with conception and pregnancy. The failure to carry the pregnancy to term often results in either intrauterine fetal death or stillborn puppies. In male dogs, problems with the production of sperms, transport of semen and its deposition in the female genital tract by ejaculation, decreased libido, or inability to mate may be the cause of infertility.
Infertility problems are not always simple and straightforward. Several minor issues in either one of the dogs or in both dogs in a mating pair may result in a complex infertility problem.
When a few attempts at reproduction, either by mating naturally, or by way of artificial insemination, have failed to produce results, the veterinarian may look into infertility issues that may be affecting the pair. The first step is to identify which dog is infertile. Several diagnostic techniques, including blood tests and testing of the semen for sperm count and other abnormalities are available. Ultrasound scans may be used to detect any structural defects in the reproductive tracts of both the dogs. Dogs with infertility problems may not have any other illness or disorder, even though certain infections in the reproductive tract may be a cause for infertility. When exploring the possible reasons for infertility, the veterinarian may look into the genetic history of the dogs too, since hereditary factors may be the cause of low fertility in some dogs.
Treatment of infertility is focused on the dog with a specific problem. There are many advanced tests available today to diagnose the exact problem that is causing the infertility in a dog, be it male or female. Hormone treatments directed at the ovaries are available to regulate the estrous cycle and to induce ovulation. Hormone therapy can be used to maintain pregnancy and help the dog carry it to term. Male dogs with low libido, as well as those having poor sperm count can be treated with specific hormones. Unwanted pregnancies can be prevented by the use of hormones too.
Reproductive tract infections can be treated with antibiotic drugs. They are carefully chosen according to the specific infection and the type of bacteria or other microorganisms causing it. In many cases, antibiotic therapy does not give satisfactory outcomes probably due to the development of drug resistance by the infectious agents. Because of this, many veterinarians prefer to avoid antibiotics for treating reproductive tract infections, and use drugs that boost immunity instead. These drugs may be used along with antibiotic drugs or by themselves.