We first met Maggie on the 5th of April when she came into the clinic for an ultrasound. Maggie was potentially pregnant and her owners were curious to discover if they should be expecting the pitter patter of little puppies in the near future. Weighing a whopping 32.9kgs (and getting bigger by the day) Maggie was one happy Labrador!
After a quick check up Maggie was taken into our imaging room to begin the ultrasound. While using the ultrasound machine we were on the lookout for the presence of small heart beats that would belong to her cute pups growing inside. Seconds after the ultrasound probe touched Maggie’s skin we noticed many heart beats thumping away at a rapid speed! An adult human’s heart beats at roughly 80 beats per minute, an adult dog is roughly 90 beats per minute but the puppy’s heart beats were at a crazy 200 beats per minute! With confirmation that Maggie was in fact very pregnant the Fitzroy team prepared a plan with Maggie's owner's to ensure the best health for both Maggie and the pups.
Our first topic of discussion was Maggie's diet, which is very important for both the mother and pups. During pregnancy the mother should ideally be on a well balanced diet. We recommend a good quality, commercially prepared dry food. It is not necessary (and can be dangerous) to supplement her diet with extra calcium or vitamins, provided that the diet is complete. As the pregnancy advances the growing pups will occupy more and more space in the abdomen. Mum's food consumption may double, however, she will not be able to eat as much in one meal. Therefore, it is always best to offer her smaller meals more frequently.
Not long after we had established our plan, Maggie returned to our clinic after having given birth to 7 of her babies at home. When it comes time for mum to give birth, some signs may include becoming restless, uninterested in food and beginning to nest about 24 hours prior to going into labour. She may also pant and her vulva may be swollen and have a clear mucous discharge.
Abdominal contractions will then commence, and mum will strain and make heaving motions. The first pup should be born within 1 to 2 hours of contractions commencing. The placental membrane often ruptures (breaking of the watersac) prior to the pup being born but is not always the case and some pups are born completely covered in their membranes. Approximately 40% of pups are born tail first (breech birth) which is perfectly normal.
We spent many hours monitoring and assisting Maggie until she delivered 9 healthy young pups. She was sent to after-hours care until the late hours of that night and returned to us the following day where we performed a caesarean and delivered 3 more of her pups.
We are so proud of Maggie and absolutely loved being a part of her pregnancy and we hope to see her and her pups back in the clinic for their vaccinations when they become old enough!
If you have a bitch who is pregnant, you should seek veterinary advice at any stage of her pregnancy, labour or after whelping if you are at all concerned about her or her pup's well-being.
Please feel free to contact us at the clinic for advice should any of the following occur:
- Your bitch's gestation period lasts more than 64 days without the onset of labour.
- Half an hour has elapsed since the onset of abdominal contractions and a pup has not been born.
- Half an hour has elapsed after the birth of a pup, your bitch is still having strong contractions and there is no sign of another pup.
- A pup becomes stuck halfway and your bitch is unable to give birth to it. You can apply gentle pressure to the pup, but if it does not move easily immediately seek veterinary advice.
- A green or dark discharge is seen coming from the bitch's vulva prior to whelping, or if a discharge is present 12 hours after giving birth.