The Top 10 Dog Breeding Supplies Dog Breeders Need In Their Freezers
Frozen dog breeding supplies to improve the size and health of your litters!
What’s in your freezer? Well, if you are a dog breeder or stud dog owner, here are our suggestions! These are the 10 most important frozen dog breeding supplies that you should have stashed in your freezer beside the meatloaf and frozen margaritas!
1. Canine semen extender
The first item on our list of ten most important frozen dog breeding supplies is one that many breeders overlook–canine semen extender. Extenders preserve and sometimes even boost sperm motility and viability. Most reproductive vets will have extender at the clinic but having easy access any time you need to do an artificial insemination (AI) can make or break the breeding’s success. So keep a vial or two of extender on hand for your AIs or to refresh fresh-chilled semen after shipping. Our favorite extenders are Fresh Express® and AndroPRO™. Fresh Express keeps in the fridge for a month and then can be frozen for a year. AndroPRO™ keeps in the refrigerator for a year and does not require freezing.
2. Estrus swabs
The smell of a bitch in estrus, specifically from the fertilizable period, will dramatically improve the quality of your semen collections. It’s best to collect your dogs with teaser bitches but estrus swabs work when you don’t have one available. Estrus swabs are easy to prepare and last a long time when frozen.
To get swabs, use either those you collect during vaginal cytology or ones you create specifically for semen collections. Purchase 6” sterile swabs and sterile saline solution online or from a drug store. Dampen the swabs with the saline before gently inserting them into the vagina of a bitch in estrus, just as you would when doing vaginal cytology. Your best swab collection days are Days 5-7 post LH surge or Days 3-5 post ovulation. After swabbing her, store the swabs in a clean Ziploc® bag, labeled with the swab-collection date in your freezer.
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3. Bitch colostrum
The third item on our 10 most important frozen dog breeding supplies helps us handle one of our greatest challenges with newborn litters–getting colostrum into weak, sick or orphaned puppies within the first 4 to 8 hours of life. We used to think that pups had a couple of days to absorb the antibodies from their mom’s colostrum. However, the latest research indicates that puppies’ guts start to close to antibodies as early as 4 hours after they have ingested their first protein meal, such as milk replacer.
You can be prepared for future emergencies by collecting and freezing colostrum from healthy litters. Later, if you have a puppy that is unable to nurse in its first 4 hours, you can thaw and warm the frozen colostrum, mix it with the Karo syrup/Pedialyte mixture, and tube feed it to the puppy. This ideally needs to occur within 4 hours of life but at least by hour 8.
This Karo syrup/Pedialyte/colostrum mix will provide the pup with the energy and antibodies it would normally get from its dam. Follow our normal tube-feeding guidance to do this but BE SURE TO GIVE IT BEFORE FEEDING ANY FORMULA TO THE PUPPY! Since formula contains protein, it will start closing or blocking the puppy’s gut thus reducing the absorption of the antibodies in the colostrum.
To collect colostrum for freezing, express it from your bitch once all of the pups in a litter have nursed for at least 12 hours. You can either handstrip or use a canine breast pump, like the one offered by Lifeline.
Here is a good video on hand stripping:
Regardless what method you use, be gentle with your bitch’s mammary glands and collect the colostrum in a clean container that is dated and labeled. Store it in the freezer within an hour of collection and it will keep for 6 months. Thaw it in warm water before feeding.
4. Pre-made milk replacer
If you use a homemade milk replacer like Myra Savant Harris’s Puppy Formula, make and freeze it before your bitch goes into Stage 1 labor. Once the whelping is underway, you won’t have the time to leave your bitch and pups to either shop for or make it. Freeze the formula in ice-cube trays so you can thaw and warm only as much as you need. Once thawed, formula only keeps a day or two but you can keep it in the freezer for 6 months.
5. Liver water
A week or so before whelping, make and freeze liver water, also in ice cube trays. From a few days before whelping through lactation, you can feed liver water to encourage your bitch to eat and drink, or as a boost for weak pups. Liver water also keeps in the freezer for 6 months. If you haven’t used up your supply by 6 months, add it to your adult dogs’ meals. They’ll love it!
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6. Cold Packs
Another unusual item on our dog breeding supplies to keep in your freezer are cold packs. You can buy them online or keep those that come with vaccines or medications. Cold packs come in handy for many breeding activities, such as shipping nomograph blood. As much as we hate to talk about such things, you will be grateful to have cold packs on hand if you need to send a deceased puppy or birth tissues off for analyses. Having small boxes and cold packs on hand can make this difficult process go more smoothly.
Mastitis can crop up quickly and often does so in the middle of the night or on a holiday when vet offices are closed. Having cabbage on hand, either a whole head in the fridge or individual leaves in the freezer, can enable you to rapidly respond to the symptoms of mastitis and blocked ducts. Hold the leaves in place with your hands or secure them with Vetwrap or Belly Bands. Alternate cabbage with warm compresses to reduce the heat, swelling, and discomfort of breast infections.
8. Vanilla Ice Cream
One of our favorites on the essential dog breeding supplies list is vanilla ice cream. Ice cream has several uses. You can mix it with meat stock or liver water as a great pick-me-up for your bitch during and after whelping. It provides a little calcium and sugar for energy, and is very palatable to most dogs.essential dog breeding supplies list. It’s also good to revive your whelping team, especially with some chocolate or caramel syrup :-). Be sure to get full-fat, all-natural ice cream that does not include xylitol or other artificial sweetener.
9. Early Scent Introduction (ESI) items
Although not essential for all, many working and performance dog breeders use body parts as ESI objects. Hunters might use frozen game birds or wings, squirrel tails or even rabbits. Search-and-rescue handlers often have frozen training aids on hand. Be sure to keep these items frozen until the day you are going to offer them to the pups to sniff. Thaw them out for a few hours to increase the scent molecules they are releasing. Then stash them back in the freezer afterwards for a future litter or training session.
Our final items on our essential dog breeding supplies list are Thermalon heat/cold pads. These pads can both be frozen in the freezer or heated in the microwave to use as a cool pack or a heating pad. They work very well as the cold surface for your puppies’ Early Neurological Stimulation, a warm compress for dams with mastitis, or as a cool mat for a bitch that is too hot in the whelping box.
BONUS 11. Fresh Frozen Plasma
Although we aren’t frequent users of commercial fresh-frozen plasma (FFP), we have used plasma from our own dogs to help sick newborns. However, creating adequate amounts of plasma with the help of your vet requires more blood than you can imagine so planning ahead is important. Today, many commercial products are available that ease this process. Depending upon the manufacturer’s guidance, frozen plasma can be kept frozen for between 1 and 5 years. So get a bag or two and add them to your crazy assortment of dog-breeding supplies in your freezer.
There you have it–our 10 most important dog breeding supplies plus a bonusthat dog breeders and stud-dog owners should keep in their refrigerators and freezers! Post a comment below…what’s in YOUR freezer?
Chastant‐Maillard S, L Freyburger et al. 2012. Timing of the Intestinal Barrier Closure in Puppies. Canine and Feline Reproduction VII: Reproductive Biology and Medicine of Domestic and Exotic Carnivores.
Proceedings of the 7thQuadrennial International Symposium on Canine and Feline Reproduction. Whistler, Canada. 26‐29 July 2012. pp 190-193.
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