Bali Dogs are one of the few breeds in the world who have evolved through natural selection (survival of the fittest) rather than artificial breeding (more accurately inbreeding) of pedigree breeds. As a result, problems like dystocia (difficulty giving birth) very rarely happen in Bali Dogs, as those individuals with a narrow pelvic canal would not survive to pass on their genes to their offspring. As a result of that at Sunset Vet we almost never see birthing difficulties involving Bali Dogs, and if we do then those cases are never due to anatomical problems.
What causes dystocia in dogs?
There are many potential causes which can include issues with the foetus such as its size or position in the birth canal, maternal problems such as poor contractions, an infection in the uterus or abnormalities in the pelvic canal, vaginal vault or vulvar opening. There are also further factors that predispose dogs to dystocia such as age, being obese and sudden changes in their environment prior to going into labour.
Are certain breeds more susceptible to dystocia than others?
Absolutely – brachycephalic (squashed nose) breeds such as English or French bulldogs, Boston terriers, Chihuahuas and Pugs are the most likely to suffer complications giving birth. Research has shown that brachycephalic breeds are up to 16 times more likely to suffer from dystocia than crossbreed dogs with a longer muzzle were. For some breeds such as the English Bulldog, it is almost unheard of for them to give birth naturally, and an elective Caesarian is planned in advance by the owner to avoid any complications.
At Sunset Vet we recommend that all dogs have an abdominal Xray in the final 2 weeks of their pregnancy so that we know how many puppies the mother is carrying. This allows for better decision making come the birth as we know when all of them are already out.
How do I know if my dog has dystocia?
- Your dog is in labour and more than two hours have passed without any puppies born
- Green discharge from the vagina without puppies being born
- Longer than two hours have passed between puppies
- Your dog is continually straining for a few minutes with a puppy or fluid-filled bubble stuck in the birth canal
- Your dog has intense contractions for more than 20 minutes without a puppy being born
- Your dog is depressed, lethargic or her body temperature is more than 39.4°C
- Blood is coming out from the vagina for more than 10 minutes
- A puppy is in the breech position, meaning the tail comes out first
How can I tell if a puppy is in the breech position?
Puppies are usually born head first with the forelimbs extended. However, they can also be born with the tail and hind legs coming first (the breech position). You can usually tell if your dog’s puppy is in breech if their tail is seen hanging from the vulva, or there is a lump just behind the vulval lips and your dog is straining. Some breech presentations can be delivered without assistance, but often complications occur which require veterinary assistance.
How to bring my dog to the vet during labour
If you have any concerns during your dog’s pregnancy, particularly in the later stages, call your local vet for advice. If you need to take her to the vet, take any puppies she has already delivered with you in a separate secure box with a hot water bottle or heat pad to keep them nice and warm. Ensure the hot water bottle is well wrapped in a towel or similar to prevent overheating or burning the puppies.
How long is the gestation period in dogs?
Most female dogs who have not been spayed go into heat every six months or so, although this can vary from breed to breed. The heat cycle tends to last between 18 and 21 days. Once your dog is pregnant, the gestation period begins. The normal length of the dog gestation period is typically between 63 and 70 days. If your dog is showing no signs of whelping (giving birth) 63 days after her last mating, it is worth contacting your vet for an ultrasound scan where he/she can check the puppies still have a heartbeat and all is well.
How long do dogs take to give birth?
There are 3 stages of labour in dogs — the start of contractions, delivery of puppies and delivery of the placenta. Labour can last for many hours but it often varies between breeds. Dogs with slim heads such as collies and Dobermans may deliver all of their puppies within two to three hours. But brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldogs and pugs, tend to have more difficult deliveries and sometimes will produce one or two puppies relatively quickly and then rest for a while before labour starts again.
Signs of a dog going into labour
Some dogs may be restless prior to going into labour. Others will stop showing an interest in food, although this isn’t always the case. These behaviours are often followed by repeated licking of the vulva. As birthing time approaches, your dog will begin to endure stronger and more frequent abdominal contractions. Your dog’s waters should then break. If her contractions continue for two hours without any signs of a watery discharge or puppies, call your vet.
Preparing for whelping
There are various things you can do to prepare for your dog for giving birth. Most importantly, make sure you have your vet’s number ready just in case there are complications. It’s also helpful if you have a suitable whelping box (enclosed area with comfortable bedding), a supply of newspaper to line it with during delivery, and clean towels and paper towels on-hand to help with the clean-up. Other supplies you might need are sterilised scissors to cut the umbilical cord, unwaxed dental floss to tie off the cord, iodine to clean the puppies’ abdomens after the cord is cut, and heating pads or hot water bottles wrapped in towels to keep the puppies warm.
Delivering puppies at home
Make sure you keep both the mum and her newborn puppies under close supervision in case they get into trouble. If you can see a puppy at the vulva and it is not being delivered, take a clean towel and gently take hold of the puppy. Gently pull the puppy at approximately a 45° angle to the ground. Keep a constant pull even when your dog is not straining, as gentle traction will stimulate her to keep straining. If the puppy does not move or if it appears to be painful to your dog, contact your vet urgently.
Sunset Vet offers veterinary services via their Kuta (24hr) and Ubud (8am-10pm) clinics. For further information or to make an appointment call them on 03619348915 (Kuta) or 0361975296 (Ubud), or visit www.sunsetvetbali.com or www.facebook.com/sunsetvetbali or Instagram: sunset_vet_bali
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