Is she or isn't she? Pregnancy tests for pets of all stripes
It’s a big day for us here in my backyard caprine enclave. At some point today I expect an email informing me of my doe’s pregnancy status. At that time I’ll know whether we’ll have baby goatlings come late March or early April...with a whole season of milking and cheese-making to follow.
At the moment we’re holding our breath on the preggers thing. Tulip most of all, I’d imagine, considering she’s the one living away from home, odd-girl-out in a herd of babies and well-adjusted adults. Too bad none of them are willing to give her the time of day––except the one who wants to impregnate her, of course.
I observed this dynamic for myself last Friday as I made my way back up to West Palm Beach for a round of pregnancy test bloodletting. Jojo (Tulip’s human hostess) even gave it a go, proving yet again that it doesn’t take a veterinarian to draw a nice blood sample.
Once the final news arrives I promise to let you know. (Until then I’m willing to take bets.) So as we await the first of my caprine pink plus or minus signs, I thought I’d offer up some information on how the pregnancy test thing works:
In the case of ruminants (like goats, sheep and cows) there’s a cool test by a company out of Idaho called BioTracking. Here’s a blurb from their website describing the $7.50 test:
“BioPRYN® (Pregnancy Ruminant Yes/No) is a pregnancy detection procedure in cattle, sheep and goats. It measures the presence of Pregnancy-Specific Protein B (PSPB) in the blood circulation of the animal. The PSPB is a protein is produced by the placenta of the growing fetus.
BioPRYN® begins with collection of a blood sample from the animal. The samples are then shipped to a laboratory where an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is performed...
Using BioPRYN® assures accuracy [when] the livestock producer or veterinarian draws blood samples from the animal(s) at the correct time (30 days in cattle, goats, and sheep) after breeding and 90 days after calving in cattle.”
In case you’re wondering, the canine version is also a blood test. It's considerably more expensive at $24 but since it comes in a kit you don't have to worry so much about sending off blood samples. The Witness Relaxin Test Kit By Synbiotics is similar but looks for a hormone called “relaxin” (I know, sounds like some kind of valium). It can detect the protein in 22-27 days post-embryo implantation. Which is actually a long time considering that gestation in the dog is 63 days. It’s marketed for these indications:
* “Early detection of planned or unplanned pregnancy.
* Detection of pregnancy before or after abortion treatment.
* Early detection of false pregnancy.
* Diagnose fetal resorption or spontaneous abortion.
* Distinguish between dog false pregnancy and gestation”
For cats? Sorry, no blood test. Just an ultrasound at day 18-30 and/or X-rays after day 45 (we can do the same for our dogs).
In Tulip’s case, we’ll also be ultrasounding within a month post-positive, looking to see if we can count the number of babies in there ahead of time (I’m praying for a standard set of twins instead of a slightly scary set of three or even the four of my nightmares).
But let me not get ahead of myself. For today it’s all about whether Tulip will stay in Jojo’s care (where she’s eminently well cared for but undoubtedly unhappy) or come home this upcoming weekend. And what can I say?...another month of Tulip stress would not make for the happiest holidays possible. Wish me luck!