What is Birth Difficulty?
Many dogs will be able to give birth to their pups with minimal to no outside help, however complications during whelping do occur. A difficult or abnormal birth is referred to as dystocia, and is a common problem in veterinary medicine. Birthing difficulties can arise in any stage of labor and can be caused by maternal issues, fetal issues or a combination of both. Brachycephalic and toy breeds are somewhat more prone to difficulties during labor.
A difficult or abnormal birth process is known as Dystocia. Dystocia can occur at any stage during labor and may be caused by issues with either the mother or the puppies.
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Symptoms of Birth Difficulty in Dogs
Labor is a long and intensive process and changes in temperature, breathing rates and heart rate are normal If your dog is in labor and any of the following symptoms occur you will want to contact your veterinarian right away for the best outcome for both the bitch and the pups.
- Bloody or greenish vaginal discharge
- Early labor (less than 57 days)
- Extended resting phase (more than 2 hours between pups)
- Extended stage 1 labor (longer than 24 hours after temperature drops)
- Extreme lethargy
- Foul smelling vaginal discharge
- Non productive contractions that last longer than 30 minutes
- Pregnancy that lasts past 70 days
- Puppy presenting other than head or rear legs first
- Puppy stuck in birth canal
Types (&Stages of Labor):
Normal labor has two stages for canines. The first stage will generally last somewhere between six and twelve hours and is observed more by the dog’s behavior than anything else. Your dog will begin exhibiting restless nesting behavior and may start to pant as contractions start. Her temperature will drop around two to three hours before the second stage starts. If this stage either does not begin by the 70th day of pregnancy or if does not progress to the second stage within 12-24 hours your veterinarian should be contacted.
Most difficulties in labor will occur during the second stage of labor, when the fetuses begin their journey through the birth canal. During stage two of labor, puppies should start to appear within a fairly short amount of time. If your dog has been actively straining for longer than thirty minutes with no puppy presenting, or if there is more than a two-hour resting phase between puppies you should consult with your veterinarian.
Causes of Birth Difficulty in Dogs
The causes of dystocia can be either maternal or puppy related.
Maternal causes of dystocia can be:
- Size or shape of the birth canal
- Damage to the pelvic area
- Uterine inertia or exhaustion
Puppy related causes of dystocia:
- Size of puppies
- Position in birth canal
- Birth defects
Certain conditions in the mother can cause a predisposition to difficulties during labor. Brachycephalic and toy breeds, especially Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Pekingese, and Pugs, are more prone to dystocia. Advanced age and obesity can also increase the risks, and a previous history of difficult birth can indicate difficulties for subsequent births.
Diagnosis of Birth Difficulty in Dogs
Your veterinarian will give your dog a physical evaluation, palpitating the abdominal area and examining the vaginal opening and the birth canal. Fatigue, muscle tremors, and other signs of physical distress will be noted. X-rays (radiographs) or abdominal ultrasounds may be done to visually determine the number of fetuses present as well as their relative sizes and positions. This will help to determine if the pups are in the wrong position for a safe birth or if the difficulty might be caused by a poor fit through the birth canal. Blood tests may also be ordered to rule out any abnormalities with blood sugar and to check electrolyte and protein levels. Your pet will also be checked to ensure proper hydration levels and to confirm that anemia is not present in the blood. Specialized equipment may be used to monitor the length and severity of the contractions.
Any puppies that have already been born will most likely also be examined at this time.
Treatment of Birth Difficulty in Dogs
If your dog is suffering from problems relating to labor she will most likely be admitted to the veterinary hospital right away. Supportive care will be provided as indicated and the patient is likely to be connected to an IV drip to maintain hydration and electrolyte balances. If the labor has been protracted thus far your veterinarian may recommend injections of calcium and dextrose to bolster the system and strengthen uterine contractions. If the pups are in an appropriate position and are not too large to fit through the birth canal, then oxytocin may be indicated to kick start or speed up labor, and the veterinarian may manually assist with the labor.
If these measures are not successful, or if the positioning or size of the puppies suggests that delivering the puppies traditionally would be detrimental to the pups or the mother, an emergency cesarean section may be recommended to protect the health of both the puppies and the mother.
Recovery of Birth Difficulty in Dogs
As long as the mother receives timely medical intervention the prognosis for dystocia is good for both the mother and the puppies. Once your dog and her pups are able to come home keep them in a clean and quiet area of the home. Carefully monitor the behavior of both the adult dog and her pups for signs of pain, lethargy or unusual aggression and keep any surgical sites clean and dry. Make certain that the mother has plenty of ready access to highly nutritional food and clean water as producing milk takes a lot of water and a lot of energy.
Birth Difficulty Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog is expelling dark fluid from her vagina and not giving birth to puppies.
The gestation period of her is 60 day but there are no signs and symptoms of giving puppies just a fluid discharge , restlessness,No vommiting.
Please help us.
If Olive has some dark discharge before whelping it may be attributable to the placenta detaching before whelping (never good), infection, dead pups etc… A small amount of fluid before whelping is normal but not large quantities, I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian for an examination to make sure Olive and pups are OK. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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My boston terrier gave birth to 6 puppies day before yesterday, and later that evening it was come about that she had another puppy stuck in there,we eventually helped her pass it, once it passed alot of greenish really foul odor smell of fluids come out. She still passing some of the fluids not as much as the first couple hours. She's still not eating, drinking. I been forcing fluids down her and giving her fluids through a iv. Got her on some antibiotics. But my question is how long will she still have the discharge?
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i have crossed my German shepherd female on 23rd April 2017 it is the 50th day of pregnancy and today my dog cries and bleed..it is first pregnancy of my dog.so please tell me that what can i do if something is wrong.
Some bleeding during pregnancy is not unusual but if Mexi is in distress, you should visit your Veterinarian immediate as she may be miscarrying (aborting) the pups and she needs to be examined to determine if the pups can be saved and to ensure Mexi’s health. Miscarriage may be caused by infections, hormonal imbalance, trauma etc… Please get Mexi immediate attention if she is in distress. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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