Diagnosing and managing canine dystocia (Proceedings) - Veterinary Healthcare


Diagnosing and managing canine dystocia (Proceedings)


Neonatal Resuscitation

A warm (90 F) incubator, hemostats, suture material, suction bulb syringes, emergency drugs, and an adequate supply of soft dry towels should be prepared beforehand. As each neonate is handed off, the umbilical cord should be clamped and ligated 1-2 cm from the umbilicus. Fetal fluids and amnion should be removed by rubbing briskly with a soft, clean towel. The oral cavity and nares may be suctioned with a bulb syringe. The old practice of "swinging" puppies to clear their airways is best avoided because of the potential for cerebral hemorrhage due to concussive injury. If vigorous rubbing is not successful at stimulating respiration, positive pressure ventilation may be initiated with a snug fitting mask, keeping the neonates head and neck extended to ensure adequate inflation of the lungs. Alternately, intubation may be accomplished using a catheter or small, uncuffed endotracheal tube. Because isoflurane is minimally metabolized, ventilation is the primary route of elimination. Thus, its depressant effects can not be reversed until the neonate breathes. Cardiac massage may be instituted if a heart beat can not be detected once warming and ventilation measures have been instituted. Epinephrine (0.1 mg/kg) may be given intratracheally, intraosseously, or intravenously if cardiac massage is unsuccessful. Naloxone (0.1 mg/kg) should be considered if the dam received opioid analgesics as part of the anesthetic regimen. Although doxapram (dopram) is routinely administered in many practices as a respiratory stimulant, it is not used for this purpose in the resuscitation of human neonates and there is no evidence to support its use in veterinary patients.

The prognosis for medical management of dystocia is guarded, with success rates of 20-40% in the veterinary literature. Additionally, stillbirth rates have been shown to rise when dystocia is allowed to continue for greater than 4.5-6 hours from the time of onset of second stage labor in the dog. For these reasons, the decision to proceed to caesarian section should not be delayed if response to medical management is poor or unlikely to result in successful delivery. In recent studies, neonatal survival rates following surgical treatment of dystocia have been reported at 92% at birth, with 80% still alive at 7 days post c-section.


Jutkowitz LA. Reproductive Emergencies. Vet Clin North Am Sm An Prac 2005;35:397-420.

Concannon P, Whaley S, Lein D, et al. Canine gestation length: variation related to time of mating and fertile life of sperm. Am J Vet Res 1983;44:1819-1821.

Gaudet DA. Retrospective study of 128 cases of canine dystocia. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1985;21:813-818.

Copley K. Comparison of traditional methods for evaluating parturition in the bitch versus using external fetal and uterine monitoring. In: Proceedings for the Society of Theriogeneology Annual Conference. Colorado Springs: 2002, p. 375-382.

Concannon PW, McCann JP, Temple M. Biology and endocrinology of ovulation, pregnancy, and parturition in the dog. J Reprod Fertil Suppl 1989;39:3-25.

Linde-Forsberg C, Eneroth A. Parturition. In: Simpson GM, editor. Manual of Small Animal Reproduction and Neonatology. Cheltenham: British Small Animal Veterinary Association; 1998, p. 127-142.

Darvelid AW, Linde-Forsberg C. Dystocia in the bitch: A retrospective study of 182 cases. J Small Anim Pract 1994;35:402-407.

Eckstrand C, Linde-Forsberg C. Dystocia in the cat: A retrospective study of 155 cases. J Small Anim Pract 1994;35:459-464.

Gunn-Moore DA, Thrusfield MV. Feline dystocia: prevalence, and association with cranial conformation and breed. Vet Record 1995;136:350-353.

Verstegen JP, Silva LDM, Onclin K, et al. Echocardiographic study of heart rate in dog and cat fetuses in utero. J Reprod. Fertil Suppl 1993;47:175-180.

Zone MA, Wanke MM. Diagnosis of canine fetal health by ultrasonography. J Reprod. Fertil Suppl 2001;57:215-219.

Davidson AP. Uterine and fetal monitoring in the bitch. Vet Clin North Am 2001;31:305-313.

Moon PF, Erb HN, Ludders JW, et al. Perioperative management and mortality rates of dogs undergoing cesarian section in the United States and Canada. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;213:365-369.

Moon-Massat PF, Erb HN. Perioperative factors associated with puppy vigor after delivery by cesarian section. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2002;38:90-96.

Funkquist PME, Nyman GC, Lofgren AMJ, et al. Use of propofol-isoflurane as an anesthetic regimen for cesarian section in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;211:313-317.


Click here