Delilah is an 18 month old Boston Terrier who presented to us in the midst of a dystocia (problem giving birth. Delilah was 65 days pregnant when she came into the clinic. The normal gestation period for dogs is between 62 to 65 days. The owners had been taking her temperature daily for the previous two weeks looking for evidence that she was going to start to give birth because typically the body temperature will drop below 100 degrees within 24 hours of whelping. Delilah’s temperature had dropped 20 hours prior to presentation. She had started to have contractions 4 hours before she was brought in because her contractions were non-productive.
On presentation, Delilah was anxious and panting. Her belly was very full with puppies. She had a bit of bloody discharge coming from her vagina. A vaginal exam revealed a puppie’s head stuck in the birth canal. We attempted to deliver the puppy vaginally but we were unsuccessful. In Boston’s and other bulldogs, dystocia is a common problem, mostly due to the large size of these dog’s head versus their narrow pelvic canals.
We performed ultrasound exam of the uterus and found the puppies to be still alive. At this point, we were forced to perform a caesarian section. In this procedure, the mother is gently anesthetized and an incision is made into the abdomen. The uterus with the puppies inside is brought out of the abdomen and it is incised, being careful not to cut the puppy. One by one, the puppies are removed from the uterus. Each puppy has it’s own umbilical cord, which is connected to a corresponding placenta in the uterus. The fetal sacs must be opened, the puppy is then exteriorized and the umbilical cord is clamped and cut. The puppy is handed off to waiting assistants who clear its airways, dry it off and stimulate it to get it breathing. Meanwhile, the surgeon moves on to the next puppy. As long as the puppies are in the uterus, the mother is supplying them oxygenated blood, so we have some time to get each one out. However, we want to minimize the effects of anesthesia on the pups so the procedure is done as quickly as is safely possible.
Once all the puppies were out, we removed each of the placentas from the uterus. Because the owner’s want to breed Delilah again, we sutured her uterus closed and then closed the abdomen in a routine manner. She will be able to breed again, but will have to be delivered by C-section again.
While we were finishing up surgery, the nursing staff were busy getting the 4 puppies up and going. We were very fortunate in this case that all the puppies made it. As soon as Delilah was up and anesthetic free, she was reunited to her pups who quickly took their first meal.
Cleaning Breathing passages
Rubbing to Stimulate
Drying and Warming
Swinging Pup to Clear Airway
Mom comes to recovery