First steps for adding reproductive testing to your practice
This post is sponsored by Zoetis.
Many veterinary practices are unsure of the first steps to take when adding reproductive testing to their offerings. SmartBrief spoke with Dr. Richard Goldstein, executive director and chief medical officer at Zoetis, about how to add this valuable service to your practice.
What kind of equipment or training do practices need to be able to offer this testing?
One big advantage is, unlike other areas where you can expand your practice, reproductive testing does not require expensive, fancy equipment. You should have a routine ultrasound capability that allows you to see a uterus and angular pyometra in pregnancy checks. Other than that, you would need luteinizing hormone (LH) lateral flow tests and a progesterone test, which don’t require extra training.
All that is required on the part of the veterinarian is a little bit of knowledge to be aware that these services exist, to have them in stock and to run them as needed. And that’s without becoming a true reproductive specialist who advertises those services. If you do that, you open your practice to a whole new list of clients, and it grows your practice. So, you can dabble in reproductive medicine or you can really focus on it. Either way, you’re providing better medicine and better service.
What are the first steps to getting started?
The first thing to do is to make sure you have the tests on hand. The key tests to have are the LH lateral flow tests and the pregnancy tests. They don’t require refrigeration and they have an 18-month shelf life, so there’s no problem just having them ready in your practice.
Practices can wait a little longer to acquire an ultrasound system if they don’t want to make the investment right away, but it’s nice to have if you are providing reproductive services, so you can make sure there is no infection in the uterus and that everything is going well during the pregnancy.
Once you have those things, especially the lateral flow kits, you’re ready to go. All you need to do is advertise that you offer reproductive medicine services, and the people will come.
How can practices use these tests to help their clients?
Clients are going to come, at first, for help with timed mating. You’re going have to teach them how to recognize signs of proestrus and to come in toward the middle of proestrus to start LH testing. You will want to do the LH testing daily from the middle of proestrus until the LH surge, and then you will be able to tell clients what days animals need to mate. Once a pregnancy occurs, they’ll be able to come back in for the pregnancy test. Then, you’re going to monitor that pregnancy with ultrasound to make sure everything goes smoothly.
What tests does Zoetis offer, and when should you use each of them?
We have three blood tests in the reproductive line. The first, WITNESS LH, measures the LH surge, and knowing when the LH surge happens is the best way to time mating. It’s also the best way to know when to perform a planned C-section and to predict a whelping date. It’s also the only way to know whether a female dog or cat has been spayed.
The other test is the OvuCHECK progesterone test. You can use progesterone in the dog and cat to predict the LH surge. You can also use progesterone in cats and dogs as a pregnancy test, similar to in cattle and equine species.
But for the dog and cat, the best pregnancy test, by far, measures relaxin. The test for this hormone is 100% sensitive for pregnancy at day 29 in a cat and day 25 in a dog.1 In the cat, it’s after mating and in the dog, it’s after the LH surge. So, less than halfway through a pregnancy, we can be absolutely sure that the animal is pregnant, treat them appropriately and prepare for the whelping.
1. DiGangi, BA, et al., J Am Vet Med Assoc, 2010. (v1.0) - Results summary (p.1)
Zoetis is a leading animal health company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products. For more information, visit https://www.zoetisus.com.
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