Reproductive Medicine (Theriogenology)

A reproductive medicine specialist (theriogenologist) is a veterinarian with advanced training and expertise in the field of reproductive health, and responsible breeding and genetic practices.  Theriogenologists may focus on small animal practice, agricultural fields, zoos, preserves, and ecosystems.  Theriogenologists are trained in the areas of medical and surgical management of reproductive disorders in both male and female patients, including urology, obstetrics, endocrinology, perinatology, pathology, oncology, pharmacology, epidemiology, assisted reproductive technologies and techniques, and herd reproductive management.  Some reasons that you may seek the care of a theriogenologist are for pregnancy evaluation and management, testicular and prostatic disease, perinatal evaluation of newborns, caesarian sections, as well as difficult whelping.

A board certified theriogenologist (reproductive specialist) is a veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in reproductive medicine and has been certified by the American College of Theriogenologists (ACT). The advanced training and education required for this certification includes:

  • A veterinary degree (three to four years of undergraduate college, followed by four years of veterinary school).
  • One year of clinical practice
  • Two to three years of advanced training (residency) in theriogenology.
  • A series of rigorous examinations covering all aspects of theriogenology.

Philosophy:

When your pet needs the care of a theriogenologist, years of intensive training and education will focus on the diagnosis, management and treatment of their reproductive health.  Breeding and reproductive management is one of the most common reasons to seek the help, guidance and expertise of a reproductive medicine specialist.  

What is an emergency/specialty hospital and how is it different than my primary veterinarian?

A specialty hospital does not offer any routine or preventative care. Our veterinarians have advanced training in specific disciplines such as reproductive medicine, surgery, oncology, internal medicine, emergency and critical care medicine, physical rehabilitation and neurology among others. We also have equipment that most primary veterinarians don’t have such as CT scans, MRI, endoscopic equipment, and specialized surgical tools.  We work closely with your primary veterinarian to offer these services to you.

What services are offered? 

The following list is some of the services available through CVRC's Reproductive Medicine Department:

Female Patients:

  • Breeding managment
    • Reproductive health physical examination
    • Progesterone testing
    • Vaginal cytology
    • Vaginal peculum examination
    • Breeding soundness examination
  • Artificial Insemination
    • AI - Vaginal (cooled/shipped or side by side)
    • AI - Endoscopic Transcervical Insemination (TCI)
    • AI - Surgical
  • Diagnostics
    • Ultrasound (reproductive/urogenital)
    • Ultrasound guided aspirate/biopsy
    • Endoscopy (reproductive/urogenital)
    • Endoscopic Biopsy & Culture
    • Brucellosis testing
    • Radiographs
  • Surgical and/or Medical Management of:
    • Pyometra
    • Dystocia
    • Abortion
    • Neonatal fading syndrome
    • C-Section
    • Vulvoplasty
    • Biopsy of reproductive organs/tract
    • Vaginal strictures & septums
    • Vaginitis
    • Vaginal discharge

Male Patients:

  • Reproductive Health Examination
    • Breeding soundess examination
  • Semen Collection
    • Side by side for AI
    • Cooled shipping
    • Semen washing
    • Semen evaluation
  • Diagnostics
    • Ultrasound
    • Ultrasound guided aspirate/biopsy
    • Prostatic wash
    • Brucellosis testing
  • Surgical and/or Medical Management:
    • Prolapsed urethra
    • Biopsy of reproductive organs/tract
    • Castration
    • Vasectomy
    • BPH/Prostatitis/Prostatic abscess

What should I expect during my visit?

If you are a new client to CVRC, we encourage you to fill out our New Patient Registration Form ahead of time online, or bring the form with you. Otherwise, please arrive to your appointment approximately 10 minutes early to complete this form in our office. If you are transferring for continued care from your primary veterinarian, please come to CVRC at your earliest convenience.

Reproductive medicine consultation usually begins with your family veterinarian diagnosing a disease or condition that requires advanced expertise, diagnostics, therapeutics and or assistance. Often, individuals may directly seek the guidance and expertise of a theriogenologist for breeding management, guidance, or assistance.  A full history, medical record review, and complete physical examination are performed. After examination and discussion, an initial treatment plan will be presented for the breeding management, diagnostic workup and/or treatment.

Our theriogenologist will communicate with you during the breeding management, work-up or treatment process to keep you informed on your pet's progress. We will also communicate with your primary veterinarian (if applicable) during this process to ensure a collaborative plan for the care of your pet. Upon discharge, you will be given a printed visit summary with the managemetn plan, diagnosis, treatment recommendations, and follow up care.  A full report will be sent to your family veterinarian the same day. We welcome your progress reports, questions and concerns any time and will maintain an ongoing relationship with your primary care doctor to ensure the best experience for you and the best care for your pet.

What should I bring to my visit?

First and most importantly, bring your pet to all visits.  You may be instructed to withhold food and water from midnight the night before your appointment to allow for certain diagnostic testing.   If your pet is on any medications, please let us know and we will advise you whether or not to administer them on the morning of your appointment. Also, please bring a list of all medications, strengths and dosages, or the pill vials. Records, including recent laboratory work, can be faxed or emailed to us from your primary care veterinarian prior to the appointment. If your pet has had any x-rays taken recently, please bring those with you as well. We can request records and digital x-rays on your behalf from your family veterinarian once you have scheduled a visit with us.  Please bring your notes related to the reproductive health of your pet (i.e. previous breeding attempts, successful or not, heat cycles, etc.).

How much does it cost for a consultation with the reproductive medicine specialist?

Our specialist consultation fee is $105.  After an assessment by our specialist, you will be provided with a detailed medical treatment plan, including all costs recommended and anticipated.  You and the specialist will review this and determine the best course of action for you and your pet.

Do I need a referral?

While referrals are recommended to see one of our specialists, they are not required. It is always better to speak to your veterinarian about a referral so we can collaborate with your veterinarian to ensure the best care for your pet.

Will you keep my family veterinarian informed of the care my pet receives at CVRC?

We work closely with your primary veterinarian and ensure they receive copies of all medical records. We also communicate via phone and they have the ability to access a portal into our medical record system. 

What is breeding management?

Breeding management of your bitch entails following her through her heat cycle until she is ready to be bred. Each cycle starts with a full evaluation of her reproductive health and records, and followed with (usually) every other day visits through the time of insemination. During each of these visits the reproductive specialist will look at the bitch’s vaginal cytology, perform a speculum exam and evaluate blood progesterone levels to determine the optimal time of breeding.

When should I breed my dog?

Responsible breeding of your dog means taking into account both how to get her pregnant and what will happen to the puppies once they are born. For any particular cycle, the optimal time of breeding is determined by the type of semen to be used (natural breeding, cooled semen breeding, or frozen semen breeding), and assessment of vaginal cytology, vaginal speculum exams, and progesterone levels through her heat cycle. The reproductive specialist will be able to determine when the best time for breeding is based on their ongoing examinations, as well as the optimal method.

What is ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a diagnostic tool used to obtain more detailed information about internal body structures. Ultrasound machines use sound waves administered by a small handheld device called a probe, waves are reflected back to the probe, and a computer formats these into visual pictures on a monitor for the clinician to review. Ultrasound is painless and noninvasive.

Ultrasound is a modality that requires significant training and experience by the clinician to achieve an accurate diagnosis and interpretation of the study.

How is ultrasound performed?

After being thoroughly examined by one of our doctors, your pet is positioned appropriately on the ultrasound examination table. For most patients, sedation or anesthesia is not required. The area of interest is clipped to allow the probe to make contact with the skin. The study is performed and interpreted by one of our trained clinicians. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes to perform. Ultrasound is painless and noninvasive. 

What is ultrasound used for?

Applications for ultrasound, relating to reproductive medicine, include:

Evaluation of the reproductive organs and systems

Pregnancy evaluation

Minimally invasive techniques to obtain samples of organs for diagnosis of illnesses and cancers (fine needle aspirates and ultrasound-guided biopsies).

Will my pet need to be sedated or anesthetized for an ultrasound?

Ultrasound is painless and noninvasive. For most patients, sedation or anesthesia is not required. Certain advanced procedures (biopsy or aspirate) may require sedation or anesthesia for patient comfort and compliance.

Are there special instructions I need to follow for my pet's ultrasound appointment?

For routine reproductive medicine ultrasounds, there are no special instructions or limitations.  Should we have any special instructions for you, we will advise you of them prior to your appointment.

What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy is a minimally invasive technique that uses flexible and rigid scopes to visualize internal structures of a patient, including the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract, nasal passages, reproductive tract, respiratory tract, and urinary tract.

How is endoscopy performed?

After a full physical examination, a specialized scope is passed into the area of interest (i.e. through the urethra into the bladder, or through the vagina into the cervix or uterus) , and a camera hooked up to the scope displays live images of these structures. Using special instruments, insemination can be performed (called transcervical insemination), as well as biopsy or culture samples obtained.

What is endoscopy used for?

Endoscopy in reproductive medicine is used to visualize the urogenitcal tract and perform insemination, as well as various diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.. 

Will my pet need to be sedated or anesthetized for an endoscopy?

Anesthesia or sedation is generall not required to allow for the passage of an endoscopy into the area of interest for routine breeding situations.  Some procedures may necessitate the use of sedatives or anesthetic agents for your pet's comfort and the ability to perform the procedure. We use the most up to date and safest anesthetic agents, preanesthetic laboratory screening, tailored anesthetic protocols, and state of the art monitoring equipment to ensure safety for your pet before, during, and after anesthesia.