Infertility is a relatively uncommon reproductive disease of dogs.
During neonatal and juvenile life, the canine uterus undergoes extensive structural and functional changes as well as uterine gland differentiation and enlargement. Gland development within the lining of the uterus begins at 1 wk of age, leading to budding from the luminal epithelium, and rapid proliferation of both luminal epithelial and stromal cells and within 3 weeks, epithelial glands are clearly identifiable with proliferation of luminal, glandular, and stromal cells. Similar glandular development occurs within the male testis, leading to rapid differentiation of the testicular tissues.
Infertility results in failure to conceive, failure to sustain pregnancy (miscarriage) or production of dead fetuses.
- - breed variability - predisposition to azoospermia and teratozoospermia in the Beagle (testosterone-responsive azoospermia) and English Bulldog
- - Trisomy-X - persistent anestrus, anovulation, a slow rise in serum progesterone concentrations, 'split' heats, insufficient luteal phase or persistent estrus
- - Robertsonian translocation
- - Hermaphroditism
- Systemic diseases
- - Immune-mediated disease - lupus erythematosus, immune-mediated thyroiditis
- - Hypoadrenocorticism
- - Leishmania spp
- - Hypothyroidism - predisposition in the Dogue de Bordeaux and Leonberger
- - Canine herpesvirus
- - Brucella spp
- Female reproductive disorders
- - Hydrosalpynx
- - Cystic endometrial hyperplasia
- - Pyometra
- - Uterine leiomyoma
- - Papillary adenoma, papillary adenocarcinoma
- - Ovarian cystadenoma
- - Paraovarian cyst
- - Ovarian carcinoma
- - Dysgerminoma
- - Granulosa cell tumor
- - Mixed Müllerian tumor
- - Leuteoma
- - Teratoma
- - Thecomas
- Male reproductive disorders
- - Cryptorchidism (bilateral)
- - Prostatitis
- - Epididymitis - Streptococcus canis
- - Prostatitis
- - Prostatic adenocarcinoma
- - Prostatic hyperplasia
- - Prostatic squamous metaplasia
- - Seminoma
- - Sertoli cell tumor
- - Testicular torsion
When presented with a dog for infertility examination, a complete history, physical examination, testicular ultrasonography (testicular atrophy or testicular neoplasia), ejaculate evaluation should be completed. In dogs, fine-needle aspiration of testicular samples will help elucidate sperm motility and detect the presence of oligospermia or azoospermia. Some sperm defects are considered to be genetic in origin when they appear in the semen and may not necessarily imply a disease state.
in male dogs with low sperm production, injections of testosterone or gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue may assist in improving spermatogenesis.
Although cystic endometrial hyperplasia is a leading cause of infertility in bitches, many that present for infertility are reproductively normal and are able to conceive with appropriate intervention and breeding management.
In problematic bitches, parasite serology, use of vaginal cytologic evaluation, abdominal ultrasonography, resting hormone assays, hormone challenge testing and exploratory laparotomy with biopsy may be required to determine any underlying pathology.
In bitches, an estradiol concentration of > 20 pg/mL can be considered as normal ovarian activity. Some bitches have progesterone insufficiency, causing implantation failure, and consequently, progesterone should be measured when the bitch is showing signs of estrus or within 50 - 80 days after that with a level > 2 ng/mL indicative of functional corpora lutea. A hormone challenge test can be used if a progesterone level of < 2 ng/mL is found, or the animal is presumed to be in proestrus. Progesterone levels should increase to > 2 ng/mL by 1 wk following the injection of human chorionic gonadotropin or gonadotropin releasing hormone.
In bitches with hormone imbalances, successfully treatment can be achieved with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogue injections given at the time of proestrus. In those bitches with shortened interestrus periods, suppression of one estrus with synthetic progestins (e.g. proligestone or megestrol acetate) administered at recommended doses, allows fertile breedings on the subsequent cycle, producing litter sizes within the normal range.
Assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, and cryopreservation of gametes are emerging as important methods of improving infertility in both sexes of dogs.
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