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Border Collie being x-rayed by a veterinary technician.
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A basic lesson of dog breeding 101 is to get a veterinarian on your team. Breeders who partner with veterinarians have the assurance of knowing their questions will be addressed by an expert who shares their best interests and wants to help them optimize the health of their breeding animals and puppies.

Purina veterinarian Callie Harris, DVM, knows firsthand from working at an emergency veterinary hospital the desperation breeders may experience when their pregnant dog needs an emergency cesarean section. Besides the challenges of finding an emergency veterinary hospital equipped to provide immediate care for a pregnant animal, the cost could be exorbitant.

“it’s so important to be prepared so you don’t end up at an emergency clinic in the middle of the night,” Dr. Harris says.

“Before planning a breeding, you should consult with a veterinarian to ask questions and get recommendations. it’s a good idea to connect with a veterinary reproduction specialist or a veterinarian with a special interest in reproduction.”

Frances o. “Fran” Smith, DVM, Ph.D., DACT, is a board-certified veterinary theriogenologist — a veterinary reproduction specialist. She also is a breeder of Labrador retrievers. “The great majority of clients don’t know what a theriogenologist is,” Dr. Smith says. “it is a specialty in veterinary medicine that basically combines OB-GYN and urology in human medicine. There are less than 300 of us in the country.”

As president of the orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Dr. Smith takes health and genetic testing to heart. oFA is probably best known for its Canine Health information Center (CHiC) program in which parent clubs select testing for breed health clearances.

Dr. Harris of Purina says “Building a good breeder- veterinarian relationship starts with the initial communication,” she says. “it’s important for breeders to trust their veterinarian and their expertise related to the overall health care management and nutrition of dogs.”

Partnering with a veterinarian from the beginning helps to reduce the likelihood of needing emergency veterinary care for a pregnancy in the middle of the night. if you are in the business of breeding dogs, a best practice is to find a veterinarian who’s in the business of animal reproduction and who wants to help you raise a healthy litter of puppies.

Tips for a Successful Breeder-Veterinarian Partnership

  • Before planning a breeding, consult a veterinarian to learn his or her recommendations to provide the best care possible for females and her puppies
  • Consider working with a veterinarian with a special interest in reproduction or a theriogenologist, a board-certified veterinarian who specializes in reproduction
  • Successful breeder-veterinarian partnerships are built on mutual trust and respect
  • open communication with your veterinarian throughout breeding, pregnancy, and labor and delivery provides the best results
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