Canine Pregnancy

January 16, 2018

Canine Pregnancy Diagnosis 

Palpation: from days 21 – 31 the embryonic vesicles may be palpated 

  • After day 31 the vesicles change shape and become very difficult to feel 
  • After day 50 the puppies may be palpated directly 
  • Some large dogs or dogs with a tight abdomen may cause palpation to be extremely difficult 
  • The number of fetuses and viability usually cannot be determined using palpation alone. 

Ultrasound: gestational sacs may be visible as early as 18 – 20 days 

  • Heartbeat is seen after days 23 – 25 
  • Fetal movement may be seen days 34 – 36 
  • Gestational age can be accurately determined using ultrasound, this accuracy decreases when closer to parturition especially in large (>55 lb) or small (<20) lb dogs. 
  • Counting the number of fetuses can be very difficult 
  • Very small litter sizes may be difficult, occasionally fetuses like to hide. 
  • Viability may be determined using ultrasound looking for fetal movement and heart beat, which is usually around 200 beats per minute. 

Radiology:  liter size is best determined after day 50 

  • The fetal skeleton becomes visible around days 43 – 46, different bones become visible at different times. 
  • Litter numbers are best determined using radiographs 
  • This makes it possible to know when the female is done whelping 
  • Easier to determine when assistance is needed 
  • We use digital x-rays allowing greater detail and better diagnostics than other options. 

Relaxin: ReproChek or Witness Relaxin 

  • Relaxin is first observed 20 -30 days gestation 
  • Simple blood test to detect the presents of relaxin 
  • Cost is comparable to ultrasound and ultrasound gives more information 

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Whelping or Parturition 

Determining the time of parturition 

  • Start taking a rectal temperature about 5 days before expected time of whelping, do this in the morning and evening. 
  • Compare the temperature to the one done 24 hours before. 
  • The temperature will drop one degree (often to about 990 F) in about 85 % of bitches about 24 hours before parturition. 
  • If a planned caesarian section is to be done it should be performed within the next 24 hours. 
  • Close to all bitches will have an increase in temperature of about 1 degree from the base line that was determined a few days prior to whelping, this occurs about 6 hours prior to whelping. 
  • Stage I labor usually last 6 – 12 hours but may go as long as 36 hours 
  • Bitch is often restless, may show nesting behavior. 
  • She is nervous, panting, anorexic, and may tremble or shiver 
  • Stage II of parturition is when the puppies are pushed out 
  • It will last 20 minutes to 1 hour per puppy 
  • No more than 2 hours should elapse between each puppy born 
  • It tends to last longer the first time the bitch whelps. 
  • Stage II usually lasts a total of 3 to 6 hours but may go as long as 24 hours. 
  • Puppy presentation is 60% head first with the head between both front legs, the other 40% the back legs will come first and this is normal. 
  • As the puppy engages the cervix and anterior vagina it causes uterine contractions, you will often see the bitch actively pushing at this time.  
  • Stage III of parturition is the delivery of the expulsion of the placenta 
  • Expulsion of the placentas follows the pup(s) 
  • You may see pup – placenta – pup – placenta or pup – pup – placenta – placenta. 
  • The female will often eat the placenta 
  • This can cause an upset stomach is some females 
  • There has not been any benefit shown from the bitch eating placentas 
  • If the whelping is attended the placentas are usually gathered and thrown away. 
  • It can be difficult to tell the difference between resting in Stage III and the completion of parturition. 
  • Radiographs prior to whelping are very valuable at this time. 

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Dystocia (Whelping problems) 

  • Predisposing factors to a difficult delivery 
  • Bulldogs 
  • Single pup 
  • First time whelping 
  • Very large litters 
  • When to be concerned 
  • 30 minutes of strong contractions with no pups delivered 
  • 2 – 3 hours of weak and infrequent expulsive efforts failing to produce a pup. 
  • 4 or more hours between pups 
  • Obvious problem (pup hanging out, etc.) 
  • Failure to assist and get professional 
  • Potential problems include 
  • Primary uterine inertia 
  • The uterus never starts to contract normally 
  • Secondary uterine inertia 
  • The uterus becomes fatigued or stops its normal contractions 
  • Possibility of needing a C-section at this point is high 
  • Obstructive Dystocia 
  • Malposition or large fetal size 
  • Manipulation or C-section is usually necessary 
  • All manipulations need to be done very sanitary to prevent contamination of the uterus and metritis. 
  • Whelpwise 
  • Whelping monitors for dogs 
  • Very accurate to determine the beginning of uterine contractions 
  • Can diagnose problems with Inertia and obstruction 
  • Helps to determine the best time for C-section if a known date of LH surge is not available. 

Please feel free to call.  We love making puppies so let us help.  435-381-2539 or 435-637-8387 

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