WHELPING and DYSTOCIA: When to call the veterinarian…
Dystocia in dogs, which means an abnormally difficult whelping, can have serious implications for the bitch as well as the pups. There are certain times when it is imperative to CALL THE VETERINARIAN. Following are a few recommendations:
At the FIRST SIGN OF PROESTRUS (bloody discharge noticed, male dog very interested, genitalia becoming swollen) be sure to call your veterinarian so the date can be noted on your dog’s hospital record. (I like to keep very complete files on my breeder clients. Your vet will probably want to do the same.) This is a good time to alert the animal hospital staff that you plan to breed your bitch and that you may have puppies available on an approximate date.
BE SURE TO CALL if the bitch is in “standing heat,” and the sire is unable or uninterested in mating. A delay of even one day at this point may mean no pups from this breeding. Let me point out something here. Probably every veterinarian has had an owner request that “a vaginal smear be taken so you can tell me when she should be bred.” This request is an impossibility to fill. A series of vaginal smears over a number of days is required to accurately predict when “standing heat” MIGHT occur. One smear is worthless–don’t waste your money on having just one done. Secondly, by examining a series of smears, an experienced veterinarian can only give you a “ball park” estimate of a PROBABLE date to breed. Ultimately it depends upon when the bitch is ready to stand and a male is present who knows what to do, not when the doctor decides through microscopic cytological analysis that she should stand and mate! Vaginal cytology at best is an aid in predicting true estrus. Keep in mind that the length of time a bitch will accept the male can vary from hours to many days. (I know of one Lab that was in standing heat for 16 days!)
CALL YOUR VETERINARIAN FOR AN EXAM of the bitch to be done at about 23-25 days after the mating. The veterinarian should be able to tell If the bitch is pregnant and sometimes how many pups to expect. This can be a real happy occasion! Also, probable dates can be noted so your expert will be available if needed when whelping occurs.
IF THE BITCH HAS NOT WHELPED by the 64th day of gestation (64 days after the last breeding), call your veterinarian. A physical exam may be required and the bitch may need to be induced. It is possible that she may carry the pups too long and that is not a good situation. Uterine inertia may be a factor and intervention via medical and/or surgical means may be called for.
IT IS NOT UNUSUAL for a bitch to whelp a pup after a few hours of mild or occasional contractions. However, if the contractions are intense and are repeating approximately every 3-4 minutes and no pup is presented within 1/2 hour–CALL. Also, if the “water bag,” the grayish-blue sac enclosing the fetus, passes through the vulva and breaks, a pup should follow within 20 minutes. If no pup is delivered–CALL. Sometimes there will be enough discomfort that the bitch will yelp (especially during her first delivery). If the yelping proceeds to definite cries of pain at each contraction and no progress is being made at producing a pup–CALL.
YOU MAY ASSIST THE BITCH in removing the fetal membranes, and should do so if the bitch doesn’t so that the newborn pup can breathe. Gentle rubbing and drying will also help to stimulate breathing. The afterbirth (placenta) will be attached by the umbilical cord to the pup. A thread can be used to tie the cord off about 1/3 of the distance from the pup to the afterbirth. (Note: This procedure is not always necessary.) The placenta, partly greenish-black in color, can then be cut away and discarded. In my opinion, the bitch need not eat the placenta; it will do her less good than a meal of high quality dog food.
If any newborn pups are not vocalizing and seeking a place to nurse in a short time– call the veterinarian!
Click on the link at the beginning of this article…
“The Internet Animal Hospital”