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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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Boston Terrier

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Birth

My female Boston had puppies 3 days ago but had complications having a puppy stuck in the canal and another one as well. She was able to pass the two puppies yesterday but they were both deceased. After that she has not eaten but the smallest amount of food. She hasn’t stood up at all and as she was going through a bowl of water about every30 mins she has had the same bowl for quite a while now.. the Oder coming from her is the worst smell I’ve ever had to smell in my entire living I can’t even hardly get close without vomiting. She is nursing the pups and they seem to be content

Dec. 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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3 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. It sounds as if she may have a retained placenta or puppy which has become infected. She sounds very poorly and absolutely needs to see a vet immediately. They can determine what is going in and she may need treatment such as intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Dec. 21, 2020

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Shih Tzu

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dog gave birth 5days ago and has a smelly creamy like discharge coming out. She hasn’t eaten in a couple of days and would barley drink water although she tries. The vet I took her to told me there was a mass feeling in her stomach I felt it as well. They said it could be a puppy rotting out but because she’s not eating the infection could be spreading.. I don’t know what to do at this point because the vets too expensive and I can’t pay in full right now. What should I do ? Is there anything I can do?

Dec. 15, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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1 Recommendations

I'm so sorry to hear this. This is very concerning and it is possible she will pass away if not treated promptly by a vet. The concern would be that if there is a retained puppy (or retained placenta) she will develop a serious infection / sepsis. This is not something that can be treated at home and, at this stage, it sounds like she is likely already dehydrated. So, as well as treating the infection, she will likely need supportive care such as intravenous fluids. The sooner she is seen, the better her chances. Consider seeking a charity vet or a vet who accepts payment plans.

Dec. 15, 2020

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Goldendoodle

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Black Discharge

she had pups 3 days ago, seen vet next day, has a black discharge. Vet stated all of placenta not expelled, started her on antibiotic. Still has black discharge

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If she has not expelled all of the placenta, she may need medication to help her. If the problem is not improving, it would be best to have your veterinarian recheck her to make sure that she is okay and that she does not need anything else.

Oct. 11, 2020

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Goldendoodle

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Retained Placenta

So my dog just had a litter of puppies and one pup was born and the placenta never came out with it. The sac busted before the pup was even fully out. What’s the best thing to do about this? She had 2 other pups after and still didn’t birth the missing placenta.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . The placenta may have passed when you were not aware, if she seems to be feeling okay. If she is having any signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, then It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 13, 2020

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Chihuahua

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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1 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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1 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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Roxanne

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Pekingese

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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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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0 found helpful

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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

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7 Years

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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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