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Dystocia In Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Dystocia In Dogs

Dystocia refers to difficult or prolonged parturition i.e. difficulty in passing the neonates through the pelvic canal.

Several types of dystocia have been reported depending on the stages of labor and delivery. While these reproductive difficulties are risky enough to be deadly to the birthing dogs and their pups, mostly dogs endure the processes of labor and survival. Sometimes, the complications may require either the owner’s help or the help of a vet.

Dystocia is diagnosed by the veterinarian depending on a precise medical history, including breeding dates, ovulation timing, reproductive history, and a pelvic examination (digital) to find out any abnormalities in the vagina and the existence of any fetal problems.

Conventionally Dystocia is been classified into the maternal or fetal origin.

1. Maternal dystocia: The more prevalent type of dystocia is maternal dystocia. Abnormalities that cause the maternal dystocia include torsion or herniation of a uterine horn, uterine inertia, and irregularities related to Amniotic fluids. Uterine inertia is the most common cause of maternal dystocia.

Uterine inertia is defined as the lack of the myometrium contraction in an efficient manner during or after parturition. There are two types of uterine inertia.

Primary inertia: This is multifactorial in nature. Physical, genetic, hormonal, and mechanical components are included. Cesarean section is indicated for female dogs exhibiting primary uterine inertia that fail to advance into successful labor.

Secondary inertia: Dogs showing a sign of secondary inertia is unable to accomplish discharge of all neonates causing fatigue of the myometrium.

2. Fetal causes: This includes unusual fetal position, posture or presentation, fetal oversize, and fetal anomalies. Fetal oversize is the most common fetal cause of dystocia and prolonged gestation in abnormally small litters can result in fetal oversize.

Symptoms Of Dystocia

  • Labor has not started after 70 days
  • Labor starts less than 56 days after conception
  • Black or green discharge for several hours without delivery
  • Bloody discharge
  • Strong contractions or Straining for more than two hours without delivering
  • Longer than five hours between delivering puppies
  • Fetus trapped in the birth canal
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme weakness or lethargy without delivering any puppies
  • Fever higher than 39.5°C (103 degrees Fahrenheit)

Treatment Options For Dystocia

The treatment depends on the underlying problem. Although in the majority of cases, the cesarean section (C-section) will be the final resort.

Fetus abnormal Positioning: Vets try to reposition the puppies and when nothing works, a c-section will be recommended.

Small Birth Canal or Large Fetus: Vets use lubrication and forceps to help pull out the fetus or c-section.

Failure of contractions: To stimulate the uterus for contractions, veterinarians will most likely administer calcium gluconate or oxytocin with intravenous (IV) fluids, as well as oxygen and electrolytes.

Home Remedies For Dystocia

  • If the dog has undergone C-section, owners need to provide a safe and comfortable place in your home where she can rest.
  • Try to bottle feed the puppies until the dog has healed enough to nurse.
  • The best idea is to get her spayed to prevent this from recurring.
  • For owners who wish to keep breeding the dystocic dog, they should plan a C-section in advance.

Prevention Of Dystocia

Dystocia etiology is poorly understood. Specific causes are not yet known. However, Hereditary is, perhaps a factor in many breeds and it is better to evaluate the affected dogs before breeding or at least before getting a dog from a susceptible lineage.

Don’t skip visits to the vet including yearly once comprehensive examinations. Ask Your Veterinarian about skin Supplements and maintain your dog’s optimal weight.

Dystocia abnormality has a hereditary factor attached to it and this can be prevented by stopping the breeding of affected dogs so that the risk of passing the condition on to the next generation is averted.

For idiopathic causes, nobody so far knows how to completely prevent it. When you go to a breeder for a new dog or get a dog with an unknown background, ask to screen for hereditary medical conditions or do a health check prior to getting the dog.

Prevent obesity in your dog and commit to maintaining a healthy weight.

Affected Breeds Of Dystocia

Smaller breeds are more represented, Female Dogs,Boxer, Boston Terrier, Chihuahua, Bulldog, Dachshund, Pug, Pomeranian, Toy Poodle, Pekingese, Scottish Terrier

Additional Facts For Dystocia

1. Causes:

  • Age (too old or too young)
  • Smaller breeds
  • Brachycephalic breeds
  • Extremely overweight female dogs
  • Fetal distress (stillbirths, unborn puppies with slow heart rates)
  • Maternal distress (excessive pain or depression)
  • Irreversible history of dystocia (mismatch fetal/maternal size, pelvic canal abnormalities, malposition)

2. Mortality: If left untreated, dystocia has lethal consequences and despite the best possible treatment protocols the mortality rate is higher.

3. Diagnosis:

  • History and physical examination
  • Serum biochemical analysis, complete blood count (CBC)
  • Packed cell volume (PCV)
  • Abdominal radiographs
  • CT scans and MRI

4. Prognosis:

The prognosis of the dog is good. Keep the dog and the puppies under observation for at least 24 hours. If the dog had a C-section, extend the observation a little longer.

When To See A Vet

Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:

  • Labor has not started after 70 days
  • Labor starts less than 56 days after conception
  • Black or green discharge for several hours without delivery
  • Bloody discharge

Food Suggestions For Dystocia

  • Commercial foods should have high-quality, natural ingredients, with no artificial additives.
  • Add fiber to your pup’s diet.
  • Brown rice, lukewarm (never hot) chicken soup with Low sodium or chicken breast and cooked vegetables is perfect for the ailing pup.
  • Add a couple spoonful of salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies or another fish product to your dog’s food.
  • Meat-flavored baby food or bland food.
  • Semi-moist pet food with boiled chicken.
  • Increase water intake or install a pet water fountain.


Many ‘Dystocic’ dogs can live normal lives, if they are without any other complications. Dogs that undergo surgery can be managed with medications.

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