Signs of Retained Placenta in Mother Dogs
Among one of the complications that may affect the bitch after giving birth is the issue of retained placentas.
What Is the Placenta?
The placenta plays a vital role during pregnancy, connecting the puppies to the mother's uterine wall. It is thanks to the placenta that the puppies are supplied with oxygen and food and that their waste products are disposed of.
What Happens to It Normally?
When puppies are born, the placenta is no longer needed, and it is expelled from the mother's body. Generally, this occurs within 15 minutes from the time each puppy is delivered.
Each puppy should have one placenta, so it is important to count the numbers of placentas to ensure none of them stay inside.
Why They Are Retained
Cases of retained placentas are quite uncommon in dogs, however there appears to be a predisposition in toy breeds. Generally, it is mostly seen in large litters and sometimes in difficult deliveries.
Difficulty in Counting Them
The main issue is that it may be difficult for the breeders to count the placentas, because mother dogs instinctively will ingest them after they are expelled. It is believed that the placentas will provide the mother with extra energy that will help her go through the first days of nursing the pups. This is why some dogs develop soft stools for a few days after birth.
Retained placentas have the potential to cause uterine infections and toxicity. A dog exhibiting signs of illness or one that has not expelled all the placentas should be seen by a vet.
Normally after birth, the mother will develop a greenish-black discharge that will gradually become an odorless reddish-brown within 48 hours.
The main symptoms suggesting a retained placenta are:
- Development of green, fetid vaginal discharge for more than 24 hours after giving birth
- Loss of appetite
- Sometimes a retained placenta may be felt as an abdominal mass
To diagnose your dog, the vet might palpate the uterus to feel for abdominal masses, conduct blood tests to see if there is sign of infection, or do an ultrasound.
Treatment is only necessary if the dog is ill. Generally, it consists of an injection of oxytocin, a special medication that causes contraction of the uterus which will help the mother expel the retained placenta.
If there is an infection of the uterus, (metritis) a spay surgery may be recommended.
Take your dog to the vet to be advised on how to proceed.
While there is no way of preventing retained placentas in dogs, owners must keep a close eye on the placentas being expelled after each puppy is born and should watch the bitch carefully for possibly ingesting them.
While it may be difficult to keep count of the placentas in very large litters, it is certainly worth the effort for priceless piece of mind.
Note: All dogs should see the vet 24 hours after giving birth regardless of symptoms. This article does not replace the advice of a professional veterinarian.