This article covers various ways to increase fertility in male dogs in order for them to become the best studs they can be.
Infertility and low-fertility affect dogs just like other mammalian species, including humans. For dog breeders, these become true worries when looking to breed them. While a few infertility problems are inherited, many just develop with age.
To illustrate further, low infertility in dogs is due to several factors. These include age, injuries, drugs, disease, Brucella canis, physical defects, inability to ejaculate, degeneration of the testes, low sperm count, and congenital abnormalities.
Therefore, when the time to prepare a dog for breeding comes, ask a veterinarian to conduct genetic as well as fertility tests. You want to make sure your stud is fit for breeding purposes. Post examination, the veterinarian will tell you clearly about your dog’s chances to reproduce, and some tips to increase your stud’s fertility level.
In this article, you will discover various causes of infertility in males and appropriate information to improve semen quality in your male dog.
1. Test Your Dog for Brucella Canis
Brucella canis is a gram-negative bacterium that can be a reason for your dog’s infertility or low fertility.
Brucella canis causes brucellosis in dogs and other canines. The disease manifests as orchitis and epididymitis in male dogs, placentitis, endometritis and abortions in females. It can lead to infertility in both sexes. Other notable but less common symptoms include inflammation in the eyes and appendicular and axial skeleton. Brucella canis affects humans, too, but it is extremely rare.
The symptoms of the disease vary significantly in both the canine genders. Males face infertility as their bodies produce antibody against the sperm. It may further manifest in the form of inflammation of the testes, which settles down gradually. Females face abortion of developing fetuses.
Treating dogs of Brucella canis is not easy. It is also quite expensive. A combination of streptomycin and minocycline is considered useful to treat this bacterial infection. An affordable substitute for minocycline is tetracycline; however, the effect is found to be low.
2. Less Grains, More Fats and Proteins
Diet plays a vital role in increasing fertility in dogs. Nutrition greatly influences semen quality. Proteins are the most essential of all. Carbs and grains especially have pro-inflammatory effects in dogs during digestion. Avoid them as much as possible and switch to grain-free, vitamin-packed, nutritious, leafy greens, vegetables, red meat, and eggs.
Canines are carnivorous and must have enough protein in their diet. It fulfills their primary dietary requirement, but the quality of the protein source is essential. It determines the health of the dog. Protein powders can boost their intake but natural foods are always better.
Often owners add grains and seeds to their pet’s food. The reason is their low price, but a dog’s body isn’t designed by nature to digest these. Large amounts can result in long term adverse consequences. Going with a ketogenic or paleo diet would be ideal.
Dietary Fat is Vital
Dietary fat acts differently in a dog’s body than it does in a human body. It is essential and must come from animal sources as well as plant sources. Offals and organ meats are amazing sources of healthy animal fats.
Indeed, there is no way around the fact that they look gross. But, for your dog’s sake, try to incorporate them here and there when possible.
Keep a Check on Carbohydrates
The aim is to provide your canine with elements it could have had if living in the wild. Raw veggies are an excellent option. So limit carbohydrate intake to certain vegetables and fruits only. Leafy greens are awesome for the entire digestive health. Use some prebiotics and probiotics to improve hut health.
3. Treat All Bacterial Infections
A case report published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Reproduction (APJR) studied infertility and sperm defects in adult male dogs and found a bacterial infection in the reproductive tract as the cause.
In the case study, a 3.5-year-old dog was studied for the infertility problem. Breeding-related examinations were conducted on the subject. It included general physical examination, history evaluation, reproductive system examination, libido determination, and hematology. They also took semen for evaluation and screening for infectious organisms.
Results of the study
Post evaluation, the results were mostly normal. Physical examination revealed the dog to be in a healthy state. The overall examination results were normal, as well. There was no serious abnormality found in scrotum or penis; however, a whitish discharge came out from the prepuce.
The canine experienced mild pain on palpitation of the testes and epididymis. Rectal palpitation of the prostate gland caused pain and slight discomfort, but there was no enlargement of the prostate.
Evaluation of the semen for semen color, pH and volume determined everything as normal. A high WBC count in the semen indicated infection in the reproductive tract. The small amount sent for culture examination revealed a large amount of bacterial growth. The bacterium was Escherichia coli (E.coli).
According to the study, the bacterial infection of the reproductive tract damaged spermatozoa and this caused infertility in the dog.
This study should be an eye-opener for dog owners and breeders. It illustrates the importance of treating all bacterial infections to improve sperm quality in dogs.
4. Clear Your Dog from Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is another reason responsible for causing several reproductive disturbances in dogs. Both male and female dogs can develop hypothyroidism. However, spayed females are more vulnerable than the unsprayed dogs.
Due to the low level of thyroid hormone in their bodies, female dogs may experience irregular or missed heat cycles. This can result in infertility or have poor litter survival. The male dogs may have small testicles, low libido, low sperm count or infertility.
Generally, 4 to 10-year-old dogs are more prone to hypothyroidism. It affects mostly medium to large-sized breeds. It is rarely found in a miniature or toy breeds. The most commonly affected breeds include Doberman Pinscher, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Dachshund, Miniature Schnauzer, Airedale Terrier, and Cocker Spaniel.
Hypothyroidism must be averted if detected to save and increase fertility in male dogs.
5. Schedule Bacteriological Examination
Schedule a bacteriological examination of your stud to discover the health of the semen and also to know its quality. It is essential to have a veterinarian test the dog’s prostate and urine to ensure there is no bacterial or viral infection or even rule out issues in the gonads.
A few laboratory tests can reveal the reasons for the dog’s infertility.
Full blood cell count
Blood tests evaluate the functioning of the internal organs of the dog and any signs of infection. It may illustrate systemic diseases affecting canine fertility.
Microscopic analysis and chemistry of the dog’s urine reveal signs of infection, including other reasons for infertility. Some veterinary labs and clinics may have the results shortly after the test, too.
Assess sperm health indicators such as sperm count, sperm structure, and sperm movement. Sperm culture will help determine the bacterial infection if any. Besides, the levels of enzymes in the semen indicate other essential aspects of reproductive health.
These tests conducted in time can help prevent a drastic decrease in the fertility of your dog.
6. Switch to a Homemade Dog Diet
A while back, there were estrogen-mimicking and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in some commercial foods. These dog foods can affect fertility and sexual development in dogs. A report published in Nature, Scientific Reports suggests that sperm quality declines in breeding dogs with increased incidents of cryptorchidism in male offspring. Also, a lesser number of males are born as compared to females.
The reproductive system of the dog under assessment revealed the presence of ECs, polychlorinated bisphenol 153 (PCB1530) and diethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP) in the testes. Not only this, some commercial dog foods disturbed reproductive functions in a few species.
Such ill-effects require pet owners to switch to a homemade dog diet when possible. However, it is not easy. Pet owners may fail in providing wholesome food to their dog for its growth and development. Healthier alternatives are also better, such as human-grade dog foods, or freeze-dried pet foods, too.
Consulting a professional before switching to a homemade diet will help to increase fertility in male dogs significantly.
7. Administer Vitamin E
Fertility may not be a big concern for pet owners. But it’s crucial for dog breeders. Vitamin E is an important factor influencing fertility in male dogs.
Studies in recent years found that adding good fats improves fertility in dogs, especially vitamin E supplements.
Indeed, the benefits of vitamin E and essential fatty acids were under scanner in research. The case focused on judging fertility through the quality of the sperm produced. After 60 days of feeding dogs with Vitamin E, EFAs and Vitamin E resulted in increasing sperm quality significantly.
The study of the sperm revealed that male sperm developed a protective layer when Vitamin E penetrated through its membrane. This layer protects the sperm from getting damaged by the free radicals. As we know, free radicals accelerate aging and aging is one of the reasons for infertility.
8. Increase the Dog's Essential Fatty Acid Intake
Perhaps the most commonly missed nutrients in a dog’s diet are the essential fatty acids (EFAs). Every mammal, including canines, needs EFAs to maintain and manage healthy functioning of different organs in the body. These fatty acids assist the canine body in a myriad of ways, including normal functioning of nerves, cells, muscles, and organs.
Though dogs can produce fatty acids on their own, this does not include essential fatty acids – omega 3 and omega 6.
Although the role of EFAs in increasing fertility in dogs is still under research, it says that EFAs play the same function as the fatty acids produced within the canine body. Both compete for the same enzyme in the body. The enzyme produced is responsible for breaking down both types of fatty acids.
Note that the breakdown of fatty acids produced in the body causes the formation of inflammatory mediators. These mediators can lead to lesions and inflammation. Furthermore, these lesions can hinder the efficiency of the spermatozoids. However, the breakdown of EFAs administered through diet does not form inflammatory mediators and hence, no development of lesions.
In other words, EFAs improve sperm quality in dogs and thus increase fertility in male dogs.
9. Use Proven Dogs
Dogs mating simply are known as studs or dams. Proven dogs are the dogs that have proven their ability to consistently produce healthy and high-quality litters. Sires and dams can qualify to become proven breeding dogs after producing healthy and disease-free offspring. Some people may argue the dogs must have won awards to be labeled proven.
Breeders planning to mate their dog should look for a proven breed. Note that there are no clear rules to define a proven dam. Therefore you need to use your own common sense and establish your own demands. Proven dogs result in much higher breeding and stud fees by the breeders.
One of the prime reasons for picking proven dogs is their fertility level. It holds importance as a healthy female dog is expected to deliver a healthy puppy count with each mating. Low sperm motility in a male dog may result in a failed pregnancy. It is perhaps the reason owners look for a proven stud so that the heat does not go waste. Also, proven female dogs are known for taking better care of their litter.
10. Use Male Fertility Supplements
Research shows that herbs, vitamins, and minerals help dogs attain optimum fertility. These are even more useful when administered during the breeding season, helping them in a myriad of ways.
- Vitamin B6, B12, and Foliate are essential for male reproduction.
- Selenium and Vitamin A, C, and E along with antioxidants, play a role in repairing damage caused by aging.
- Vitamin D enhances sperm motility, studies reveal. It is more important for males kept inside the house.
- Zinc affects sperm formation immensely. Testosterone and sperm motility benefit too.
- Grape seed extract helps in protecting the cells and tissues of the testicle from free radicals.
- L-Carnitine has a crucial role in sperm development. It promotes the right maturation of sperm and maintains vitality. It also improves the quality of the sperm.
11. Avoid Extreme Temperatures
Extreme temperature conditions affect fertility too. Sperm production requires a specific temperature. The dogs can control it on their own by altering the position of testicles from the body. But both hot and cold temperatures are bad for sperm quality. They affect sperm quality and numbers. Therefore, to increase fertility in male dogs, shelter your dog from the extreme heat and freezing cold.
To summarize, canine sperm quality declines with age and the way to control it is to freeze them. But, this method can be a little pricey. A pro-inflammatory diet can affect the reproductive health (sperm production) of the adult dogs adversely. Similarly, certain medications such as metronidazole are toxic for the sperm.
Infertility may develop in male dogs due to various reasons, but it is essential to discover early, and then cure right away. This article should serve as a guide to increase male fertility in dogs.