While a majority of the time birthing occurs without complication, pet parents often worry that their expecting pet mother will experience difficulties during birth. Dystocia or difficult birthing is uncommon in cats and most frequently occurs in “smushy” faced or brachycephalic dogs such as bull dogs. Prenatal care is just as important for pets as it is for humans, so if owners know or even suspect that their pet is pregnant it is important to schedule a wellness exam with their veterinarian. During the exam is the perfect opportunity to discuss any potential problems that may arise during delivery and how your veterinarian would like those situations handled. Pet parents should also locate nearby emergency clinics in case delivery complications arise at night when their regular veterinarian may not be available. Signs that a mother may be having difficulty with the birthing process include: gestation greater than 68 days (this is why it is important for owners to know when the mother was bred), profuse clear or bloody discharge, strong abdominal contractions for greater than 30 minutes with failure to deliver, greater than 4 hours between births and/or presence of a visibly retained (stuck) puppy/kitten at the vulva. First time mother’s commonly experience dystocia and should be quietly monitored during delivery. Treatment for dystocia will vary based on the degree and cause of the difficulty. Medications may be administered to increase the strength and frequency of contractions, while radiographs or ultrasound may provide information on size and number of puppies/kittens to be delivered. In the event that labor and delivery does not appear to be progressive a c-section may be necessary in order to attempt to save the mother and her litter. C-sections are not however without risk. Anesthetic deaths can occur in either the young or the mother at times and close monitoring of the mother as well as her litter are important during and after the procedure.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on dystocia or visit: http://www.michvet.com/library/surgery_dystocia.asp
Dr. Eugene Pei, DVM and Staff