The primary goals of treating infertility in female dogs are to identify and rectify the underlying cause of the condition. In the majority of cases – but not all of them – the cause is ineffective breeding management practices. In other cases, the treatment must be tailored to a specific underlying medical problem. How to effectively manage a canine breeding program is a topic beyond the scope of this article.
Bitches with vaginal or uterine infections can be treated with appropriate antibiotics. Spaying is often recommended in cases of severe uterine infections (pyometritis; pyometra). If the bitch is pregnant, sometimes hormone injections can be given in an attempt to preserve her pregnancy to term. This is somewhat risky and not always successful. Prostaglandin therapy can be used to treat cystic endometrial hyperplasia with some degree of success. Dogs with persistent estrus (prolonged heat cycles) can be given human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GRH) in an effort to induce ovulation and bring the heat cycle to an end. A number of different substances and protocols have been used to try and induce estrus at a particular time. There are no reliably documented controlled studies proving the efficacy of any of these protocols at the present time. Anecdotally, however, some breeders and veterinarians reportedly have had success in inducing estrus and ovulation by administering assorted drugs at different times and in different combinations. Some of the female puppies from those litters have developed abnormal signs of masculinization.
Vaginal strictures can be surgically severed with the bitch under general anesthesia. Hormone injections may effectively treat some ovarian cysts, but cysts also can be drained during abdominal exploratory surgery. Ovarian tumors must be surgically removed.
Bitches with infertility caused by hypothyroidism may have their fertility restored following appropriate thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Pituitary and other hormone replacement therapies (estrogen, progesterone, others) may also be available.
The prognosis for most apparently infertile bitches is generally good to excellent, if the owner is committed to following a strict breeding management program. Bitches with vaginal, ovarian or uterine disorders or diseases have a more guarded prognosis. Those with conformational abnormalities have a varied prognosis, depending upon whether the defects are surgically correctable. Infectious causes of infertility are usually treatable with appropriate medications, although brucellosis can cause irreversible sterility.