This post is sponsored by Zoetis.
Reproductive testing can be a simple addition to a veterinary practice’s services to set it apart from the competition. However, many practices don’t offer these services. SmartBrief spoke with Dr. Richard Goldstein, executive director and chief medical officer at Zoetis about the benefits of adding reproductive testing services to their work.
Why is reproductive testing a valuable addition to veterinary practices?
Most veterinarians don’t offer it, so those that do can set their practices apart from the crowd. It’s also quite lucrative. That’s especially important as pharmacy income is diminishing and is expected to fall even more in the future.
Veterinarians need to focus on offerings that can help build the practice, and clinic services are going to become more important versus the retail aspect of veterinary medicine, such as tick medication and antibiotics. The focus is going to be on the medicine, on the examination of the patient, the diagnostics that can be done and the services veterinarians can provide that cannot be found online and bought remotely. Reproductive medicine services fit into that perfectly.
What are the challenges or barriers to offering reproductive testing?
In veterinary school, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on large animal reproduction, but companion animal reproduction is deemphasized. I think young veterinarians graduate without a lot of comfort in reproductive medicine and just don’t pursue that as part of their practice plan.
Additionally, there may also be some hesitance to deal with breeders, especially early on. You need a certain level of confidence to be able to deal with breeders who are also very knowledgeable. But breeders are really, really good clients once you’re on the same page. This is one service they can’t do themselves and they can’t get it online. In addition, money is often not an issue because this is a business for them. When you provide services breeders need for their business, they’ll keep coming back.
When is reproductive testing useful for companion animals?
There are three main applications. The most obvious is timed mating. There are often limited contact opportunities between the breeding male and female. Timing is also important for artificial insemination. The straws are expensive, and you’re only going to get a couple of chances to have the female become pregnant. When those opportunities are limited, we need to make sure they count and that we actually increase the chance of success with each time. In order to do that, we need to choose the correct days, which can be done by measuring luteinizing hormone.
LH can also be used to determine the spay/neuter status of dogs and cats, such as newly adopted pets. With a simple LH blood test, we can determine the spay/neuter status with 100% sensitivity and not have to rely on surgery.
The third application is determining pregnancy, which can be done with a relaxin blood test. By day 25 to 29 of a pregnancy, veterinarians can tell with 100% accuracy whether a dog or cat is pregnant. So, it is a simple and inexpensive way to test for pregnancy, rather than trying to use methods like x-ray or ultrasound, which are only valid much later during the pregnancy.
What are the health benefits for the animals?
When breeding is handled in a planned and appropriate way, it’s better for pets. For example, we can minimize pyometra. Uterine infection is very common in breeding dogs that don’t get pregnant, and it can be life-threatening, so we really want them to get pregnant with almost every cycle, or at least with every other cycle.
With reproductive testing, we can also predict when a C-section should happen, if it needs to happen, and when owners should be keeping an eye on their pets to make sure the whelping is going well. You don’t want to leave your dog alone all day on the days she’s supposed to give birth, and we can tell owners when that timetable is.
Ensuring high-quality breeding with high rates of pregnancy is the best medicine for everyone.
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.