Regardless of species, all beings enter the world through the miracle of birth. The dog is no different, and tiny puppies emerge from their mother's womb, wriggling, adorable and needy. Birth, while miraculous, poses many dangers, and the canine faces these both during and after the birthing process.
A hernia occurs when a tear forms in the abdominal wall, allowing organ or fat tissue to push through the opening. The inguinal hernia may form during pregnancy, as the presence of estrogen can cause changes in the tissues, prompting the formation of a hernia. In the case of the inguinal hernia, a tear forms in the inguinal ring, and the contents of the abdominal cavity may become trapped in the ring, push through the ring or become strangulated. This hernia poses danger to both the mother and her unborn pups, especially if the uterus becomes entrapped in the hernia opening. Hernias require surgical repair, during which any entrapped organs are restored to the abdominal cavity, and the hernia sac is closed.
Dystocia is defined as difficult birth, and in some cases, the mother dog may be unable to deliver her puppies. Dystocia has numerous causes, one of which may be a problem with the pelvis. An abnormally narrow pelvis, or a pelvis damaged by previous injury, may not allow for the passage of puppies through the birth canal. This can pose a life-threatening situation unless a veterinarian intervenes. Additional causes of dystocia include uterine exhaustion, and issues unrelated to the mother herself, such as the size or position of the puppies in utero. Puppies are normally born feet or head first. When their position is such that they cannot pass through the birth canal, a cesarean section may become necessary.
Pyometra is an infection of the uterus, which may occur during pregnancy. It poses great risk to the pregnant mother and her unborn puppies, especially if the cervix is closed, which traps the pus within the uterus. In addition to a bloody discharge, signs of pyometra include depression, loss of appetite and vomiting or diarrhea. Treatment includes antibiotics, and extreme cases may require emergency surgical intervention.
It may be difficult to spot signs of danger in a pregnant dog. After all, she's pregnant, and her behavior is bound to be different. Watch her carefully. Any drastic changes in your dog's behavior are cause for concern. Your dog should see her veterinarian during her pregnancy. Proper veterinary care not only ensures your dog of a healthy pregnancy, but it protects the lives of her unborn puppies as well.
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