Pregnancy Diagnosis Via Ultrasound
Even if you have done everything right with the breeding, and we’ve done everything perfectly along the way, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Whether it’s a natural breeding, or we’ve done an artificial insemination, we won’t know if the bitch is pregnant for a few weeks post-breeding.
There are several ways to determine if the bitch is pregnant. Prior to the advance of x-rays and ultrasound, abdominal palpation was really the only way to determine if the female was carrying puppies. Although it is ‘low tech’ abdominal palpation still requires a modicum of skill and care to adequately perform this task. It is difficult to diagnose pregnancy by palpation earlier than 21 days.
We can also perform radiographs (X-rays) to confirm pregnancy. The downside to X-rays is that the fetal skeletons do not begin to calcify until close to day 28, and are not easily detectable until close to 42-45 days. We don’t often
recommend X-rays to confirm pregnancy, opting to use X-rays around 55 days to determine litter size.
Highland Pet Hospital recommends an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy for a number of reasons. Not only can we confirm pregnancy with certainty, we can also determine the viability of the fetuses. We can also listen to the fetal heart rate, usually between 25-35 days of gestation. Ultrasound is also helpful in differentiating pregnancy from other potential causes of uterine distention such as pyometra or hydrometra.