Performing vaginal cytology offers a rapid, inexpensive, and reliable in-clinic method to evaluate stages of the estrus cycle in the bitch. Veterinary discomfort with obtaining and interpreting vaginal cytology is common; submission to a commercial laboratory might result in diagnostic delays and increased client costs.
Equipment required for vaginal cytology (cotton-tipped applicators, frosted microscope slides, commercial Romanowsky [Diff-Quik] stain, and light microscope) is already present in most small animal practices.
Related Article: Determining Estrous Status
Competence in vaginal cytology allows a clinician to:
- Determine whether a bitch is actually in heat.
- Aid in determining the correct time to begin performing more expensive serum progesterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) assays for precise ovulation timing.
- Determine if it is too late in the estrus cycle to perform artificial insemination in dogs unable or unwilling to breed naturally.
- Determine if a bitch is under the influence of estrogen (endogenous or exogenous).
- Predict the correct day to perform an elective cesarean section (C-section).