Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems?

Stalled labor and delivery problems refer to abnormal uterine contractions during birth. There are 2 types of stalled labor and delivery problems in dogs: primary and secondary uterine inertia.

Primary uterine inertia is a rare condition that occurs when a dog doesn’t experience contractions at all. The presence of a dark green liquid called placental fluid is the only way to confirm she’s in labor. Secondary uterine inertia occurs when the mother dog has strong contractions that decrease in strength or disappear.

Both types are a form of dystocia, or difficult birth. Several factors can cause stalled labor and delivery problems, including your dog’s genetics and environment. If your dog is displaying signs of labor and it’s close to her due date, you should monitor her closely. Seek veterinary help immediately if: 

  • your dog produces placental fluid without having contractions or birthing puppies 
  • there’s a delay of 2 hours or longer between puppies
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Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,800

Symptoms of Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs

The symptoms of stalled labor and delivery problems depend on the type of inertia the bitch is experiencing.

Primary Uterine Inertia

  • Failure to go into labor within 70 days after ovulation
  • Signs of pain or being uncomfortable, though these may be subtle
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale gums
  • Dark green vaginal discharge

Secondary Uterine Inertia

  • Prolonged labor
  • Straining without producing a pup
  • Longer than two hours between pups
  • Delivery of a dead pup
  • Distress or illness of the mother
  • Pup visibly stuck in the birth canal
  • Dark green vaginal discharge
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Causes of Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs

Your dog’s age and weight may cause stalled labor and delivery problems. Overweight and older dogs have a higher risk of birth difficulties. Other causes of primary and secondary inertia in dogs include:

  • Small litters with only 1 or 2 puppies
  • Large litters that overstretch the uterus
  • Failure to produce hormones that trigger contractions
  • Puppy lodged in the birth canal
  • Low blood sugar
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Exhaustion of the uterine muscles
  • Physical traits (narrow pelvis, uterine torsion, etc.)
  • Uterine tumors or other obstructions in the birth canal
  • History of uterine inertia
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Diagnosis of Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs

First, your veterinarian will examine your dog to determine whether an underlying condition is causing the stalled labor or delivery problems. Provide as much detail as you can about your dog's symptoms, medical history, and recent behavioral changes.

Some tests will be necessary to determine what's causing the uterine inertia, including:
  • Blood chemistry panel to check oxytocin, albumin, calcium, and glucose levels
  • Urinalysis
  • Vaginal examination to check for amniotic sac, presentation of the fetus, tone and dimensions of the vaginal canal
  • Ultrasound to assess the health of the puppies
  • X-rays of the abdomen to check for position of puppies and any blockages
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Treatment of Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs

To ensure the mother and puppies survive, prompt treatment is crucial. Dogs experiencing primary uterine inertia require an emergency cesarean section (C-section). Your vet may recommend oxytocin injections to stimulate contractions, although one vet notes most dogs with primary uterine inertia don’t respond to them.

In the case of secondary uterine inertia, the veterinarian may try to restart the labor and contractions. Calcium and oxytocin may be administered, but only if your dog and her puppies are in good health and not in distress. If one puppy is blocking the birth canal, your vet may try to reposition it. If a large litter is the cause, a C-section may be required. If the puppies aren't breathing upon delivery, your vet will administer oxygen.

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Worried about the cost of Stalled Labor And Delivery Problems treatment?

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Recovery of Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs

Prompt treatment is key for a good prognosis, particularly for primary uterine inertia. If the C-section is performed too late, the puppies may die and the mother dog may develop a serious, life-threatening infection.

If your dog is able to birth the puppies safely with the help of her veterinarian, she'll be able to go home after a short observation period. Place her in a comfortable, quiet place where she and her puppies won't be disturbed by other people and animals. Your vet may prescribe opioids like tramadol for post-operative pain.

Follow all your vet's instructions, and make a note of any symptoms or behavioral changes during the recovery period.

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Cost of Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs

While medicine alone (such as an injection of oxytocin) can treat some cases of stalled labor and delivery, other dogs will require an emergency C-section. The cost varies depending on the treatment but can be up to $2,500.

Caring for a pregnant or breeding dog can be expensive. Most accident and illness policies don’t cover costs related to pregnancy. But some providers, like Trupanion, offer add-ons that reimburse vet care costs. Start comparing pet insurance plans today to find the right fit for your fur-baby.

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Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,800

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Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Shih Tzu

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9 Years

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39 found helpful

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39 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Started signs of labor over 24 hr ago and hasn't produced a puppy.

Feb. 24, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Maureen M. DVM

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39 Recommendations

Hallo, Labour in dogs can go up to 48 hours however in that period of time, the labour has to be progressive with at least a few puppies born. Your dog may have what we call dystocia which means difficulty giving birth. This can be cause by either an obstruction in the birth canal where a puppy can be facing the wrong direction, puppies being too big to pass through or in other cases they could experience what we call uterine inertia. This where the uterus is not contracting enough to expel the puppies. Caesarian section is advised in such cases or assisted birth where the vet pulls out the puppies manually if they are close to the vulva. Please rush your dog to the vet asap to avoid any birth complications that can occur with prolonged labor. Good luck

Feb. 24, 2021

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Pug

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Four Years

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9 found helpful

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9 found helpful

Has Symptoms

We found out she was pregnant, and she started to release fluids this morning at 7. Then we saw a bag of fluid release around 2pm. We aren’t sure if we need to take her to vet

Jan. 21, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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9 Recommendations

Hello, Pugs can have issues having puppies and may need help. It does sound like she is in the beginning stages of labor. if you notice contractions and no puppies within an hour it would be best for you to take her to the vet right away.

Jan. 21, 2021

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Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$1,800

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