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
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.
Dystocia (Whelping problems)
- Predisposing factors to a difficult delivery
- 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.
- 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