Are you sure you want to breed from your dog?

December 3, 2012

Emergency Dogs, Puppies, Surgery

I was in the middle of surgery when my colleague walked out and said, get ready for an emergency caesarean. Layla,a 12 month old Great Dane, had been scheduled for a pregnancy ultrasound later that afternoon. Her owner had wanted to check how many puppies were present and to make sure the pregnancy was going well.

Overnight, Layla went into labour..

Layla’s owner brought her straight in when she noticed she was having suspect uterine contractions that were non-productive and she had also started producing a yellowish vaginal discharge!

Layla was really far too young to be bred and her owners had really tried to avoid this early and unplanned pregnancy. They ultimately aimed at breeding her with their entire male Great Dane when she was fully grown (two years of age). However, in spite of keeping the two dogs separated while Layla was in season, the cheeky male barged in just once and that’s all it took!

We proceeded with the emergency caesarean and found one puppy that was in severe distress. She had premature placental separation which meant she had a compromised oxygen supply.The puppy didn’t move much as I peeled away the membranes covering it.

I was quite concerned that this puppy’s chances of survival were very low.

I immediately handed her to my head nurse ‘Amy’ who then went on to train one of our more junior vet nurses Serena on how to revive a newborn puppy.

As you will see in the video footage below, there is no time to stuff around. I had to gently massage out the puppy and quickly hand it over to Amy. She then supported the puppy’s head while trying to get out any excess fluid in its airways through her swinging maneuver. The puppy was then immediately supplied with extra oxygen placed on a warm heat mat and closely monitored. The video footage contains the actual caesarean procedure. Stay clear if you can’t stomach surgical procedures.

During that time, I proceeded with flushing out Layla’s uterus & ensuring there were no other puppies tucked up in her uterine horns. I then stitched up her uterus and abdomen back together as you will see in the video below.

I would like to take this opportunity to educate you about what to expect after a caesarean. For starters, you will be $1000-1500 out of pocket to cover the costs of a C-section.

Generally, many owners think it is smooth sailing after that.

On the contrary, 50% or more of bitches reject their new puppies after a caesarean.

Some come around a few days or a week after the surgery. The poor things have just had a major operation and need time to recuperate. This leaves the burden of intensive mothering left to you, the owners.

As you can see here, Layla was still very groggy after her surgery and not really responsive to the cries of her newborn puppy. If anything, she was wondering why on earth we kept shoving the puppy in her face.

Female newborn puppy
Female newborn puppy
Female newborn puppy
Female newborn puppy

Female newborn puppy
The puppies are very vulnerable at that age. Here are some very handy tips you must be familiar with:

1. Puppies can’t regulate their own temperature and so you must ensure they don’t get too cold or too hot. You will need to place the puppies in an appropriate box/cage full of soft blankets with warm water bottles tucked underneath. The water bottles must not contain excruciatingly hot water as the wiggly puppies may dig under the blankets and get in direct contact with them! Or you can purchase a heat mat that you can tuck under the box.

2.You must make sure the puppies are getting a feed off their mom every two hours and that’s 24 hours a day! If their mom isn’t interested in them, you must supervise each feed and ensure they are latching on appropriately and that sufficient milk let down is occurring  Some bitches don’t have enough milk and so you must supplement the puppies with appropriate puppy milk formulas like Di-Vetalac. Puppies that are constantly crying indicate they are not getting enough milk and it may be due to lack of it or their inability to latch on appropriately or have poor access to their mom’s teats.

Female newborn puppy
Female newborn puppy
3. Don’t leave the puppies in with their mom if she isn’t interested in them as she will neglect them. They may run off and get stuck in a corner and get too hot or too cold. Some bitches may even sit on their puppies and inadvertently suffocate them. Here I was supervising the puppy’s first feed off Layla right after surgery.

Me in action
4. For puppies to feed well, they must also be encouraged to do their business. If their mom isn’t licking their private parts to stimulate urination/defecation, then you must take it upon yourself to do that. How? You would need to get baby wipes and simulate what their mom would do; gently rubbing their bottoms until they have done their number ones and twos. A puppy will not feed if it is impacted with its excrements.

Now back to Layla, she was not that interested in her puppy the first day after her caesarean. We had to assist her puppy in drinking milk and closely supervised them together. Her owner was given a handout that thoroughly discussed the aftercare required for both the puppy and Layla. The puppy was already compromised as it suffered from in utero fetal distress.

At this critical stage, the puppy was definitely still not out of the woods.

Here is a video of the puppy vocalizing her demands for milk. I absolutely love the sound of a newborn puppy or kitten. Our team was filled with so much pride and happiness the moment we heard this puppy make its first shrieking sound…Layla’s owner was besotted with her puppy from the very moment she laid eyes on her and wanted to do everything in her power to make sure this puppy survives!

To our utter disappointment, the very next day the puppy deteriorated rapidly. She had not been feeding very well and had gotten weaker and weaker by the hour. Her owner brought her in immediately and was very saddened with the state of the puppy.

Unfortunately it didn’t help that Layla wasn’t interested in looking after her puppy. My colleague taught Layla’s owner how to stomach feed the puppy and gave it glucose and warmed it up. He sent the puppy home and the owner was fully set up with its ongoing intensive management. We were all very worried about how this puppy would go. It hadn’t had the best start to life and the odds were really against it.

I tried getting in touch with the owner a few days after that and couldn’t get through. I wanted to check up on the progress of the puppy and was terrified that I would be informed it passed away. On the 5th day after the caesarean, the puppy was discovered bleeding heavily from its umbilical cord. Again my colleague dealt with the emergency and re-ligated the umbilical cord. This puppy kept getting one complication after another and we were losing hope each time we saw it.

Fortunately, Layla’s owner never gave up hope and kept persevering with this tiny creature.

And two weeks after the C-section, Layla came in with her puppy for a post operative check up and for her sutures to be removed.

Layla’s wound had healed very nicely and she was a very proud mother to a very healthy looking puppy.

Layla’s owner looked exhausted from 2 weeks of lack of sleep and having to look after Layla & her puppy. I must admit though, this puppy would not have survived without the dedication and passion shown by Layla’s owner.

I was also recently informed that Layla’s puppy has officially been named ‘Willow’.

Enjoy the photoshoot of  ‘Willow’ at 2 weeks old and Layla fussing over her.

Layla & her puppy
Layla & her puppy
Layla & her puppy

Layla & her puppy
Layla & her puppy

It is very important to note that single puppy pregnancies in dogs are very abnormal and in this particular case, Layla giving birth to one puppy is very likely because she was too young to be bred. Generally, pets will breed as soon as they get into season even if they still have not reached full maturity.

This is a picture when I first met Layla and she was only four and a half months old in the picture below. Pretty gorgeous, right? She had already had her first season then and it was very odd. Her owner was worried and got her fully examined then.


Breeding your pets is not always straightforward. Leave it to the experts to do. If you intend to breed with your pets, then book a consultation with your veterinarian to discuss the pros and cons of that and what is involved. You must be well researched and prepared to fork up lots of money for any complications.

Lastly, there are plenty of dogs and cats needing urgent homes and everytime you bring in new ones, you are indirectly stamping the death sentence for so many other furry creatures!

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About Rayya

Hi I am Dr. Rayya. I created this site to take you on a journey of my life as a vet! I hope to inspire you, teach you, learn from you. Most importantly help pet owners and animals around the world by sharing pictures, videos and posts from my everyday experiences.

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49 Comments on “Are you sure you want to breed from your dog?”

  1. wordsfromanneli Says:

    Very informative post. Thanks, Rayya.


  2. Sheila Morris Says:

    Dr., bless you and your efforts as a true Miracle Worker with the voiceless. Thank you is inadequate, but I do thank you for all you do.


  3. Homestead Ramblings Says:

    Well said Dr. R., well said!!


  4. becomingcliche Says:

    I can’t imagine a 12 month old pup having puppies of her own. Some friends of mine bred a litter of English cocker spaniels, and since they both work during the day, they hired me to take care of puppies at their house for six weeks. Not a cheap endeavor. Even if mom is doing a great job, so much can go wrong, and as you said, it’s not a good idea to leave them alone.

    The owners are so very lucky that they had only the one pup. If she had delivered 12 babies, they would surely have been in a pickle!

    I’m retweeting this. If I still had FB, I’d post it there, too. Puppies are precious, but they are an incredible responsibility and expense! Thanks so much for sharing this!


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Heather,
      Absolutely. Thanks for shedding some light on your own experiences with hand raising puppies. It really is so much work. Layla’s puppy was more than a handful and thankfully pulled through in spite of all the odds 🙂


  5. Jana Rade Says:

    You’re making a very good point. I couldn’t breed anyway; I could never give my pups away to anybody 🙂


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Jana. I often see very dedicate breeders struggle with parting their pups. They just find that they get very picky and don’t trust anyone to look after them as well as they do. 🙂


  6. barb19 Says:

    Very informative post Rayya. I was fascinated watching the videos, and how you all work together as a team.
    Because she had a C-section, will this Great Dane be able to have litters in the future?
    There is a lot to know before breeding from a dog, there is so much that can go wrong, so I’d like to re-blog and spread the word. Fortunately, this time, a good ending for both mother and puppy.


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Barb,

      I am glad to hear you were game to watch the videos.
      Generally speaking, animals that require c-sections will require future c-sections. However, I have heard of dogs having normal deliveries after having had a c-section.

      It sure was a good ending for everyone involved! 🙂


  7. barb19 Says:

    Reblogged this on Passionate About Pets and commented:
    Re-blogged from RayyaThe Vet – think twice before you breed from your dog.


  8. boyd hore Says:

    Good work RAYYA , even though it was hard work , you got a good result , I’am pleased for you and the dog and pups . You could be a grandmother now ???.


  9. Animalcouriers Says:

    That is one very lucky ending to a story that could have been heartbreaking. You are so right about thinking twice about breeding from your own dogs. There are so very many needy animals waiting for homes already and the reality of bringing up puppies is anything but the gooey, smiley time most people imagine!


    • Rayya Says:

      It sure was a great ending. I just wanted to highlight that breeding from your dogs just for the fun of it isn’t a good idea. You need to think ahead and realise complications may occur and you may have to put your life on hold while you look after those puppies. Of course you also need to find all these puppies new homes. You get very attached to them and will not want to part with them unless you find them the perfect homes. It sure is a time and emotionally consuming time.


  10. 2browndawgs Says:

    Oh yeah that bitch was definitely too young to be bred. I would say that just as important as consulting with a vet, people who think they might breed a litter should find a breed mentor first. As you say there is a lot to consider and the result here of a singleton pup is not the greatest. Single pups often have a more difficult time socializing and I hope this “breeder” puts in the necessary effort with this large dog.

    We have two dogs that would match up quite well if bred; however, after considering all that is involved with breeding a litter have decided that it is not for us.

    The only part of your post that I take exception to is the last paragraph. I think the implication that breeding a littler of pups somehow stamps a death sentence on shelter dogs is unfair. There is value to preserving the purebred dog imo.


    • Rayya Says:

      You are absolutely right. I did say leave breeding to the experts and what that entails is those that are fully experienced in the area and knows the ins and outs and special requirements. I am for preserving the purebred dog. However, I am absolutely against the excess breeding of certain pure breeds just for monetary gain. Many of these pure bred dogs often end up at shelters. Responsible breeding schemes need to be enforced.


  11. Long Life Cats and Dogs Says:

    Well, I, of course, am always one to promote adoption rather than breeding but I have been through the route of bottle feeding from a week old. I know the routine (up every 2 hrs no matter what). I must admit that I loved it.


  12. Gail Schechter Says:

    thanks for sharing…I was amazed how small that great dane puppy was!!!


  13. Elliott Says:

    Rayya, great idea to include the videos here! I’ve never done a caesarian or even participated in one — we had so few breeding animals around my vet school that they were just really rare. I hope I could pull it off just as successfully if given the opportunity, but would definitely need to pull out my Small Animal Surgery book first…


    • Rayya Says:

      Hey Elliot
      I find it so interesting how the case load varies so much between practices in the same country and ones overseas. You just never know what you will be faced with. There are many routine surgeries that I have not had to do and I will definitely be pulling out the small animal surgery book if I am faced with them. I think that is part of the interesting and challenging part of our job. You will enjoy doing your first c-section. There is nothing more fun than getting out a live puppy or kitten or calf or etc. 🙂


  14. angelswhisper2011 Says:

    I would have loved to be his mom 🙂 I was fascinated by the operation and the happy end, Rayya. Thank you for this information. You’re a lovely vet 🙂


  15. Donkey Whisperer Farm Says:

    Hi Dr. Rayya,

    So nice to read your posts again. You are one amazing woman/vet thank you for sharing. I really enjoyed reading this post, well done!


  16. Awake and Unafraid Says:

    Fantastic post! As an animal control officer I really appreciate the ending 🙂 Keep up the amazing and important work you do! xx


    • Rayya Says:

      Thanks heaps for your lovely comment. Some might think my last statement is harsh. If, however, they experienced what you and I have with unwanted or rejected animals.


  17. Gail Schechter Says:

    just nominated you blog of the year 2012 🙂


  18. Jodi Says:

    First I have to say what a beautiful dog Layla is!

    I was surprised as I was reading that she only had one pup and was going to ask if that was normal but you covered it for me.

    I wish more people thought the way you do Dr. Rayya, there are so many animals that are needlessly euthanized and yet people still continue to breed irresponsibly. 😦


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  20. Bella Says:

    Hi Dr. RAYYA

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  1. Passionate About Pets - December 3, 2012

    […] Reblogged from Dr Rayya's Online Veterinary Journal: […]

  2. That’s Damn Interesting! Lovely Links 12-06-2012 | The Doggie Stylish Blog - December 6, 2012

    […] Dog breeding is not for the faint of heart. Watch Dr. Rayya preform an emergency C-section on a Great Dane. […]

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