Here I was enjoying an afternoon nap after a very big day and I woke up to the vibrations of my mobile phone. I had just missed a call from Alana who was on emergency call. At my clinic, vets do their utmost best to support each other round the clock; that can range from a simple phone consultation about a complex case or being called in to assist in a difficult surgery.
I instantly called her back and she had a caesarean to do and the nurse on call was too far away.
Everyone feels terribly guilty calling me in on my day off because I never fail to oblige. I keep insisting they should not feel bad because I will not be hesitating to drag them out when I ever need them. I am very fortunate that all the support I offer is mostly reciprocated.
This poor red heeler had already had nine healthy puppies without any problems but then continued to contract for four consecutive hours without any progress.
Alana decided to x-ray her to determine how many puppies are still due to come out and she found ONE LUCKY LAST and he/she was far from being engaged in the pelvic canal. That was the green light to proceed with the caesarean.
She already knew that the puppy is most likely dead.
A whelping bitch should be producing one puppy every 20-30 minutes and she can take up to 1.5 hours to rest between pups. However, she should not be contracting during that resting period. If you notice greenish vaginal discharge coming out of your whelping dog after so many contractions and no puppy is presenting, that should set off some serious alarm bells! It can indicate that there is early placental separation and so the puppy is in major strife as he/she can not breathe. You should never breed a dog if your are not well-informed about the whole process from beginning to end.
You must familiarize yourself with the bitch’s nesting behaviour indicating an impending labour to the whole whelping process and the aftercare involved too. You must be prepared to take your dog to a vet if she is struggling to have a normal birth. Caesareans are major surgeries and cost a great deal of money and 50% occur afterhours and so that will add lots of $$$ to the bill. You have to be prepared to pay up and take full responsibility of your dog.
You risk not only losing the puppies but also your bitch if you withhold veterinary attention.
Back to the caesarean section I got called into, I played anaesthetist and unfortunately as we expected, the pending puppy was dead. He was also twice the size of the rest of his litter mates which can explain why he got stuck. Mom made an excellent recovery and we sent her on her merry way with all her squeaky healthy puppies. She has a very hectic 6-8 weeks ahead of her.
Below is a picture of mom recovering from her anaesthetic. Puppies are not really considerate at that age and all they seek is to latch on and get a decent feed. Poor mom!
Then mom was more awake and getting antsy about me getting close to pups and taking too many pictures. That is an excellent sign!
In her case, we were not worried about her not connecting with her pups because she had delivered them naturally.
However, when puppies are delivered via a caesarean section, you often worry because the bitch may reject them and so the owners need to be overseeing her care and helping her connect with her babies.
When you see this puppy’s face, it really cheers you up and reinforces why you do what you do as a vet no matter how late it is or how run down you are or even if it is indeed your day off!
I wonder how many people can vouch that they are just as dedicated in their own careers…