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The term “dystocia” means difficult delivery, and it is a common reason for late night phone calls to veterinarians!
Problems with the delivery of pups can be divided into those associated with mom, or those caused by the pups. Let’s look at them separately.
1. Maternal factors.
A bitch may have been born with a narrow pelvis, which makes it difficult for the pups to pass through the birth canal. This narrowing can also occur secondary to a pelvic fracture which has affected the shape of her pelvis.
It is possible for a bitch’s uterus to just stop contracting, so it no longer pushes the pups through the birth canal. In most cases, this occurs because the uterus becomes worn out.
2. Puppy factors.
A small litter may result in very large pups, which are just too big to pass through the birth canal.
There may be problems with the positioning of pups in the uterus. Those who are being born head first or bottom first can usually be delivered with no problems, but some pups are in an awkward position, and just don’t fit. They may be lying sideways in the uterus, or with a foot in the wrong position which can result in them getting stuck. This can also occur with pups that have physical abnormalities.
Treatment of dystocia can vary, depending on the cause. In many cases, an injection of oxytocin can stimulate the uterus and increase the strength of contractions. That can be enough to get things moving again.
Sometimes a stuck pup can be gently manipulated so that it passes through the birth canal. This should only be done by an experienced breeder or a veterinarian.
If the pups are too large, or they are stuck fast, the only option is a cesarean section.
In Summary – If at any time you think your dog is in trouble, call your veterinarian straight away, to make sure of the best possible outcome for your bitch and her pups.
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