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What is Retained Afterbirth?

The placenta is the organ that connects the developing puppies to the mother during her pregnancy. Generally, this is expelled shortly after the pup during the third stage of the birthing process. In certain circumstances, the placenta may not get expelled, which can cause infection within the uterus which can quickly become toxic. This condition is seen most often in dogs with difficulties during birth, in the birthing of large litters, and in toy breeds, and should be addressed as speedily as possible to prevent further damage to the mother or the nursing pups.

The failure of a mother dog to pass all or part of one or more placentas, also known as afterbirth, during the birthing process.

Retained Afterbirth Average Cost

From 35 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,500

Average Cost

$550

Symptoms of Retained Afterbirth in Dogs

The most telling sign that there is still placenta retained in the mother is the presence of greenish or dark discharge from the vaginal canal that continues for 24 hours or more after giving birth. Unlike the normal discharges that occur during birth, the discharge from a retained placenta may have an unpleasant odor. Other symptoms may include:

  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Neglect of Offspring
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Causes of Retained Afterbirth in Dogs

Cases of retained afterbirth are uncommon in dogs. The most common conditions that would lead to retained afterbirth would be difficulties experienced during labor or a particularly large litter. As the mother dog instinctively eats the afterbirth while caring for new puppies, it may become difficult to keep track of the how many placentas were expelled, especially under stressful circumstances. Toy breeds seem to be somewhat predisposed to retaining placentas.

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Diagnosis of Retained Afterbirth in Dogs

In order to make a proper diagnosis your veterinarian will start by asking for a full history of your dog’s symptoms as well as give your dog a physical evaluation. He/she will palpitate the abdominal area, paying close attention to any lumps or masses that are palpable as well as examine the vaginal opening and the birth canal. Fatigue, muscle tremors, and other signs of physical distress will also be noted and an ultrasound or X-ray will be ordered to see if there is any retained fetal or placental tissue in the uterus. Blood tests and tests on the vaginal discharge will also be indicated to ensure that any infections are caught and treated in a timely manner. Retained fetal or placental tissue can lead to metritis, a bacterial infection of the uterus. In some cases, the ultrasound or x-ray will miss the tissue and exploratory surgery is required to get a definitive diagnosis.

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Treatment of Retained Afterbirth in Dogs

More often than not the treatment of otherwise healthy canines will be minimal. An injection of oxytocin or prostaglandin is often given to cause uterine contractions. This is to facilitate the ejection of the remaining afterbirth that has been trapped in the uterus. If this treatment is unsuccessful or if there is a uterine infection the surgical removal of the tissue will be required. An ovariohysterectomy may be recommended at this point to avoid future complications, particularly if additional breedings are not planned. This surgery excises both the uterus and the ovaries. Any infections remaining will be treated aggressively with antibiotics, and the full measure of their antibiotic medication should be given to prevent relapse. If the infection is advanced when you contact your veterinarian your pet may be admitted to the veterinary hospital for stabilization via IV fluids and supportive care.

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Recovery of Retained Afterbirth in Dogs

As long as the mother receives timely medical intervention the prognosis for retained afterbirth is good for both the overall quality of life and for future fertility. If an infection has occurred, it is essential to make certain that your pet completes the full measure of their antibiotic medication to help prevent any relapse.  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, which may indicate that an infection has materialized.  Keep any surgical sites clean and dry and monitor them for bleeding or oozing. 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.

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Retained Afterbirth Average Cost

From 35 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,500

Average Cost

$550

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Retained Afterbirth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Chihuahua

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Brownish Blood

Why is my dog having brownish bllood she gave birth on the 22 of july

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, there could be fluid that will still come out a few days and even a week later. If your dog does not feel good, is running a fever, not eating or drinking they should see a vet. This brown discharge may be perfectly normal.

July 30, 2020

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CC

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Pit bull

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Two Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Discharged After Whelping

Our Pit Bull gave birth last Sunday to a litter of Nine puppies. Her labor was around seven hours start to finish and to me it seemed like a fairly smooth and non- complicated process. I believe all puppies were delivered with their placentas but it all happened so fast I didn’t really pay attention like I probably should have given it was not expected for her to have them that night. She has been spotting normally just reddish color blood since having them but this morning the discharge has increased to a more mucus like consistency and slightly thicker but still the red to dark reddish blood. Doesn’t have any smell at all. Since about the second day of having the puppies after feeding them the dog gets out of the welping area and just lays on the bed next to the box but she has never really slept with the puppies after nursing them . So that’s not really a changed behavior she’s always done that . Her milk color is good and nipples nice and soft to the touch and not too firm. Puppies are eating ok . Dog doesn’t seem to have a fever or anything and she is eating and drinking just fine. I’ve pushed on her stomach and felt around and she doesn’t act like anything hurts or bothers her either. So is this just a normal stage of afterbirth discharge? Should I just monitor it for change in color or if a smell develops ?

July 3, 2018

CC's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Some brownish or bloody discharge may occur after whelping; the problem is if it is large quantities of blood, foul odour, white/yellow discharge, fever or other worrying symptoms. Keep an eye on CC for the time being but if the bleeding doesn’t stop or there are any other concerns don’t hesitate to visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 4, 2018

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Panda

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Pitbull terrior

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Depression

My dog gave birth to 11 puppies 3 weeks ago and she is still having pinkish, red discharge. She’s eating fine and doing everything she used to do before having puppies but she seems depressed and refuses to feed the puppies unless I’m sitting with her. The puppies are doing fine but I’m worried about panda because she didn’t start neglecting the puppies until they were around a week and a half old.

June 22, 2018

Panda's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It isn't totally normal for Panda to be having a discharge 3 weeks after having puppies, and if she is still having the discharge and seems quieter than normal, it would be a good idea to have her seen by a veterinarian. They can look at her, Assess her vital signs, and see if there is any reason to think that she may have a problem. She may need medications or treatment. I hope that she is okay.

June 22, 2018

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Fiona

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Pitbull mix

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18 Months

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Long Dark String

My dog Fiona had her first litter last night to 8 healthy pups this was unplanned n he just got fixed today but she’s feeding them cleaning them they all came out butt first she eating n drinking a lot panting a little hard still I believe all placenta came out but when she just peed she had a long dark kinda string hanging from her is this normal she has no temp acts normal I don’t see any discharge but she does clean her self a lot n the puppies she really won’t leave the pups just enough time to go to the bathroom n right back

June 21, 2018

Fiona's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It sounds like everything is normal at this point for Fiona. There is a normal discharge after the puppies are born, and it can go on for a few days. As long as she is eating and drinking well, and seems bright and comfortable and is nursing the puppies, she should be fine.

June 21, 2018

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Mom

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Shih Tzu

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4 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Retained Placenta

4 weeks ago my Shih Tzu gave birth to 7 healthy puppies, 2 placentas did not pass. Mom is behaving normally, is an excellent mother, but still has redish/brown discharge (temp 100.9) should I be concerned?

June 6, 2018

Mom's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

A red/brown discharge may occur for a while after whelping, it is possible that the placentas passed and she ate them before you saw; typically if there was a retained placenta she would have a nasty infection and fever by now. Continue to monitor her for the time being, but visit your Veterinarian for an examination if the discharge doesn’t stop. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 7, 2018

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Roxanne

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Pekingese

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Panting
Pushing
Placenta

My girl had her pups a little over 24 hours ago, ((3/13/20) Its 9:00pm on 3/14 right now.) shes panting and now shes acting like she is trying to push something out still, no temp, (102.1) Shes doing well at nursing the pups, cleaning them and everything, she got up to use the bathroom once today. No discharge, I had a hard time counting placentas, but when I cleaned her up last night she had an umbilical cord hanging out of her which was from the last pup, Woke up the next morning to change the towels in her bed and there was a blackish stain on them, don't know if that was the placenta.

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Cheyenne

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Boerboel

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Green Discharge

My dog had her pups 2 nights ago. She had 7 no problem then the 8th was still born then 2 more no problem. The first was born at 7 pm the last at 11 pm she stopped panting and completely calmed down after the 10th so I went to bed around 12. Around 3am we woke up to her eating an 11th pup she had sometime after I went to bed then at 6am there was a 12th that was also dead. The 9 pups are doing great she is acting completely normal but has had a dark green discharge. About an hour ago I noticed something sticking out of her vagina I pulled it out with a paper towel and it was a 13th pup?! Should I be worried there is anything else stuck? Or that she might get an infection? She is acting completely fine tending to her pups and no pain panting or any other concerning signs

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butters

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cocker spaniel x chihuahua

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Feverish
Panting Heavily

my medium sized dog just had 4 puppies,birth started about 23 hours ago.All puppies are perfectly fine but i am concerned about the mom shes kinda warm/hot,i dont have a thermometer otherwise i would check her temp but she has been breathing very heavily since birth and i am concerned please someone give me some info if you can thank you.

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Reesee

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Pit bull

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Panting

Last night my pitbull reesee had five puppies.and at 11pm the following night she had her sixth puppy.futher more she has greenish and black discharge.only after she had her sixth puppy is this normal .

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Chula

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Labor
Placenta

My dog just delivered today and she is doing well eating and drinking water. She is feeding baby and doing great. But to start off her first baby came out and was deceased the second came out and is awesome nothing wrong. After every thing seemed good and still does but she went to use the restroom and it look as if there is a placenta still it came out some and then she stopped and came inside will she be play next time she uses the restroom should I help take it out or what is it

Retained Afterbirth Average Cost

From 35 quotes ranging from $300 - $1,500

Average Cost

$550

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