Evaluation of Vaginal Smears, and Progesterone and Relaxin Levels in Pregnant, and Overt and Covert Pseudopregnant Bitches


Abstract: Progesterone and relaxin levels, vaginal smears, and physical differences were evaluated in pregnant, overt pseudopregnant, and covert pseudopregnant bitches. The study included 30 bitches of various breeds, aged 3-12 years and 20 ± 2 kg in body weight, that were divided into 3 groups of 10 animals each. Bitches in group 1 were in the last trimester of pregnancy. Group 2 contained overt pseudopregnant bitches and group 3 consisted of covert pseudopregnant and late dioestrus (between 40 and 60 days of dioestrus) bitches without any signs of overt pseudopregnancy. Clinical, ultrasonographic, and vaginal smear examinations were performed, and cyclic stage or pregnancy was diagnosed. Qualitative relaxin and quantitative progesterone levels were assayed in blood samples. The evaluation of the vaginal smears of groups 2 and 3 revealed that basal, parabasal, and intermediate epithelial cells were present in greater quantity than superficial cells. The results of the vaginal smears of groups 2 and 3 were statistically similar. Moreover, the difference between group 1 and the other groups was statistically significant. While mean progesterone values of groups 2 and 3 were similar, the progesterone level of group 1 was statistically higher than that of groups 2 and 3 (P < 0.01). Qualitative relaxin test results (ReproCHEK^®) were positive in the pregnant bitches and negative in the covert and overt pseudopregnant bitches. Taking into account the higher plasma progesterone concentration in bitches after the 40^{th} day of pregnancy, progesterone level can be used to detect pregnancy; however, concentrations of serum progesterone in pregnant bitches after the 40^{th}day of pregnancy are of minor clinical importance in the diagnosis of pregnancy. It has been shown that relaxin levels are present in the blood of pregnant bitches. Relaxin was not seen in the blood of overt or covert pseudopregnant bitches.

Keywords: Bitch, progesterone, relaxin, vaginal smear

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