When should a dog be tested for progesterone? Progesterone tests are used to accurately estimate the best time to breed a female dog. Progesterone is a hormone that regulates pregnancy by thickening the lining of the uterus, which a fertilized egg needs in order to implant and grow.
Progesterone tests should be done every two or three dogs once a female dog is 4-5 days into her heat cycle.
Normal progesterone levels are less than 1ng (nanogram) per milliliter. After a spike in LH which occurs during ovulation, progesterone levels will increase to 4ng/ml.
How much does progesterone testing cost for dogs?
Prices vary depending on your region, whether the vet is administering and checking the tests, or you are testing at home and sending the test to a vet to be checked.
The average price for taking a blood sample, performing the progesterone test and having a vet look over the results is $45 or £50. This is the cost per test and many breeders will take 2 or even 3 tests over several days until they get the correct date and progesterone levels that signal the dog is ready to breed.
Progesterone test for dogs at home
As science has advanced, it has become possible for progesterone testing to be done at home. There is no need for a veterinarian to look over the results, as many testing kits come with an electronic test reader.
These units do not come cheap, starting at £2000, but the cost can go as high as $5000.
The price depends on the particular model you purchase, the accuracy it can provide in reading the test sample and whether the kit offers other tests besides progesterone.
How do you check a dog’s progesterone?
If you are testing from home, you need a baseline, so test before your dog begins her heat cycle. On day 3 or 4 after her heat cycle begins, perform another test. Her progesterone levels should have increased from less than 1ng/ml to around 2mg/ml.
The surge in LH causes the increase in progesterone, but this only lasts up to 24 hours. Ovulation typically occurs 2 or 3 days after the LH surge and this is the best time for breeding to occur. At the point or just after ovulation, a dog’s progesterone levels will reach 5ng/ml. This is the reading that breeders are looking for when deciding the best time to breed their dogs.
Whether you are testing yourself at home or visiting the vet, progesterone tests should be done every 2 days to ensure the ovulation and breeding window are not missed. Dogs generally come into heat every 6 months or so, but breeding dogs should be given at least one heat cycle of rest between pregnancies to prevent ill health.