Progesterone Testing

Progesterone Testing

Animal Health Services is equipped with fast hormone analysis!

Animal Health Services offers same-day progesterone results!

How? We have a VIDAS® diagnostic instrument that provides results on dogs’ progesterone levels within a matter of hours, allowing us to determine quickly when a dog has reached the best time for insemination. The simple and precise testing system does not use syringes, tubing or needles, virtually eliminating the chance of contamination. Plus, the ready-to-use reagents and minimal required maintenance lower the cost of testing. We’re one of the few veterinary facilities in the country with this instrument, and we’re proud to give you access to such a convenient and state-of-the-art diagnostic tool.

Progesterone levels vary not only from bitch to bitch but even from cycle to cycle in an individual bitch. A dog that ovulates late in her first cycle will not necessarily do the same in successive cycles.

Frequently asked questions about progesterone testing at Animal Health Services:

What is progesterone and why would I test for it?
Progesterone is a hormone that helps prepare and maintain the uterus for pregnancy. It begins to rise during the estrus cycle and is a key indicator (along with the luteinizing hormone, or LH) of when ovulation occurs.

Why would I test my bitch’s progesterone levels?
To determine when ovulation occurs and hence when it is the best time to breed.

How do you test for it?
It is a simple blood test. We use the in-house mini VIDAS® compact multiparametric immunoanalyzer. The mini VIDAS® is a compact automated immunoassay system based on the Enzyme Linked Fluorescent Assay (ELFA) principles.

When do I start testing my bitch’s levels?
Typically five to six days after estrus discharge is noted. Occasionally, we will start testing earlier or later based on previous reproductive history.

Can I find out when my bitch will be in heat based on a progesterone test?
No. Progesterone levels don’t begin to rise until she starts into heat. During anestrus (between heat cycles), there is no measurable progesterone.

What is the frequency of the testing?
Roughly every other day. We may go two days at the beginning if the first level is very low, and we may repeat daily, particularly when doing a surgical insemination with frozen semen, which requires more precise numbers.

How soon will I get results?
Results are available within 2 hours during regular business hours.

What is the target progesterone level for breeding/insemination?
It will vary depending on the type of breeding planned. For natural breeding with a local stud, once the level rises above 8 ng/ml, we recommend putting the dogs together. For chilled semen inseminations, we generally arrange the shipment once the progesterone has gone above 21 ng/ml, but we still want to confirm that the progesterone has risen above 15 ng/ml. For surgical inseminations with frozen semen, we plan the insemination after the progesterone has risen above 35 ng/ml.

Those numbers appear to be much higher than the results I get from IDEXX or ANTECH.
Different machines use different numbers and value charts.

Do different breeding methods or types of semen (chilled/frozen/fresh) require different progesterone levels?
Yes (see above). The less the sperm have been handled, the longer they live, so with a fresh insemination or natural breeding, there is a larger margin of time than with frozen semen.

How soon can I tell if my bitch is pregnant based on her progesterone level? Or can I?
The progesterone level will rise with ovulation and then remain high throughout the gestation period whether or not the bitch is pregnant and even if she is not bred. So no, you can’t tell based on her progesterone level.

What is the target level my bitch needs to maintain to support pregnancy?
Typically, the progesterone level will rise to 10 ng/ml or higher after ovulation.

What effect does the progesterone level have on a caesarean section?
Progesterone levels can be used to time a C-section. A drop in the progesterone level will signify the commencement of labor within 24 hours. If the due date cannot be accurately determined, we can run daily progesterone tests to determine when that drop occurs in order to schedule the C-section at the optimum time.

Christopher Beauchamp