Breeding your female dog can be a rewarding process, but breeding dogs comes with its own set of risks to both your female and her puppies. Breech births and hemorrhages are two potential complications that you may encounter when your dog is giving birth. These problems can be life-threatening to both the mother and the puppies, so it is important that you learn to recognize the symptoms.
According to East Central Veterinary Clinic, your dog's pregnancy will last between 57 and 72 days with 63 days being average. If you suspect your dog is pregnant, she can be diagnosed by your veterinarian using ultrasound, abdominal palpation, relaxin canine pregnancy testing or radiography. Abdominal palpation is done by feeling the dog's uterus and is a relatively crude method of confirming pregnancy. Abdominal palpation can be unreliable, especially if your dog is tense or overweight. Relaxin testing involves administering a hormone-based pregnancy test, similar to what is used for humans. Ultrasound is reliable for confirming pregnancy but radiography is more effective for determining the number of puppies. Regular checkups during pregnancy can help your veterinarian predict and prevent problems during the birthing process. When your dog gives birth, the process is referred to as whelping.
According to Vetwest Animal Hospitals, you will be able to tell your female dog is entering the first stage of labor when her rectal temperature measures less than 100 degrees. She may stop eating in the 24-hour period prior to whelping. The second stage of labor occurs when your dog begins pushing or straining to deliver the puppies. You will notice fluid coming from her vaginal area and she should begin to deliver the puppies within an hour or two after the straining begins. You may notice bloody or green discharge as puppies are being born. Some discharge is normal. If your dog goes more than two hours between birthing individual puppies, you may need to contact your veterinarian.
Breech births occur when a puppy is not in the correct position when he enters the birth canal. When a puppy is in the breech position, he typically will be coming out tail and bottom forward while one hind leg is extended in the opposite direction. While some breech puppies come out without incident, others get stuck inside the mother.
Identifying a Breech Birth
If your mother dog has been straining for a long period of time but has not produced a puppy, or you can feel a lump or see the tail through the vulva but the puppy will not come out, there is a good chance the puppy is in a breech position. You will need to contact your veterinarian immediately if you believe your dog is attempting to give birth to a puppy in the breech position. This is an emergency situation and the veterinarian will either need to assist in the delivery or perform a C-section. The puppy will have to be born one way or another. This is not a problem that will correct itself if given time, rather the condition of both mother and puppy will worsen as time goes on. In some cases, one or both may die if veterinary treatment is not given promptly.
Hemorrhages During Whelping
Hemorrhages can occur during whelping as a result of an assortment of serious problems, including uterine rupture. Hemorrhages are fairly easy to identify. You will notice a large amount of fresh blood coming out of the vulva, as if your dog is bleeding from a wound. If you even suspect there might be a chance your dog is hemorrhaging, you must rush her to the veterinarian immediately for emergency treatment. This is a life or death condition and proper treatment is essential for the survival of mother and pups.
- Vetwest Animal Hosptials: Breeding - Whelping or Birth
- Canine Reproduction and Whelping Guide: Complications!! Pregnancy or Whelp - Dystocia
- East Central Veterinary Hospital: Canine Pregnancy
- MedicAnimal: The 6 Most Common Problems During and Post Whelping (Canine Pregnancy)
- EZ Whelp: Breeding & Whelping Terms and Definitions
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.