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Whelping Gone Wrong—Vet Makes it Worse

Whelping and Raising Puppies

It is very important to do your homework before whelping puppies. You cannot always rely on the vet to know what is best. Not all are experienced in saving puppies. This story came from a Lhasa Apso breeder in Germany who whelped a litter of pups for another breeder. She wanted to share her experience to help others learn from it.

My girl was on day 56 of her pregnancy. She had the stomach flu for 2 days. I had her on IV fluids the night before.

In the morning at 8:00 a.m.,, she vomited and gave birth to one puppy. I started to rub it, but noticed all the intestines were on the outside of her belly, so I let her be and she never started to breathe. The puppy weighed 134 grams.

The dam was having contractions but not strong ones. I had to feather the dam to help the second puppy out. She gave birth to a 132-gram female. The puppy did not start to breathe on her own, but my husband worked on her for an hour and the pup finally came around and began to breathe. Sadly, this puppy died the next day. 

After an hour of my dam pushing I feathered her more and she gave birth to a 3rd puppy. This puppy too was born with all its intestines on the outside of its stomach. It was alive and active, weighing 124 grams. I gave the puppy to the mom. I thought she would pass away, but she did not. We later took her to the vet to be put down.

Three hours into labor the mom was resting. I could not feel a puppy, so I let her rest. Then she had a mild contraction. I took her for a walk and she had some more mild contractions. I could feel a puppy. It was stuck and I just could not get a hold of the feet. Then a bunch of green came out! 

I called the animal hospital instead of my regular vet, since they were closer. They said to come at once. When I got to the hospital they did not take me to the back. They did nothing for a long time and I was stuck waiting. 

When I was called back, the vet first did an examination. She wanted to feel the puppy for herself and try to pull it out. After trying for herself she then agreed that yes the puppy was indeed stuck. The vet then wanted to do an x-ray. I asked her why. I told her I just wanted to have a C-section performed as soon as possible.

She told me she didn't want to do it on her own and called in another vet for back-up. This vet had a 45-minute drive to get to the office and we had to wait. They could have at least prepped my girl so all was ready when that vet came, but they did not even do that. More waiting.

They gave her an IV with calcium, which my dam did not respond to. I told the vet she already got calcium at home and that had no effect on her. I just wanted them to start the C-section.

Finally they took my dam back for the surgery. I was not allowed to be with her and assist in reviving my own pups. Oh my, this is NOT the way it should be.

The vet tech came back 30 minutes later. I was told that all the puppies were dead. She said she noticed that one puppy was deformed, so they put it to sleep. I said I wanted to SEE my puppies.

She brought in the 3 of the puppies. The first one, which had been stuck, was stiff and very dead, of course. The second one had no anus and no tail, which was the one she put to sleep. The 3rd puppy was still in the sac! The animal caretaker said, “Oh, that puppy was dead too.” I said, “How could you tell if you never got it out of the sac?” The legs were stretched out the same way the first puppy had been. 

We opened up the sac and found a dead, large, parti-colored male. The puppy's skin was a good color. The puppy was dead but looked like it would have been healthy had it been quickly taken out of the sac and worked on. I asked why the puppy was not removed from the sac and tried to be revived. I got no answers.

I went home. The next day this was all still on my mind. I called the vet and asked why the sac was not opened. The vet told me the reason was she thought the puppy was rotten inside. I could not believe it. How would they know without opening the sac? The vet had delivered 3 puppies. One died from being stuck and the C-section taking so long to start. The second was alive but deformed so they put it to sleep without even asking me, and for the 3rd puppy nobody opened the sac to even try to save it. At home before going to the vet I delivered 2 live puppies and one dead puppy. Two of the puppies had their intestines on the outside of the stomach but none of them were rotten.

The vet told me she would take the issue up with the quality group and that a mistake had been made. I am not sure what happened. Perhaps the vet assistant got so caught up on the deformed puppy she just forgot to work on the last?

It is strange there were 3 deformed puppies. Something must have happened in the first trimester of pregnancy. The dam might have been exposed to something, but I do not know what.

There was a $3,500 vet bill and no puppies. I believe as a breeder I did everything right, but the vet did not. I wish I had insisted on going in the back with the dam. Maybe I could have saved that one puppy that was never taken out of the sac. I wish I could have made them start the C-section as soon as I got there. Maybe the stuck puppy could have been saved, too. Now I know you should always, always insist on going in the back. Not in the operating room, but in the next room to revive your own pups and make sure you agree with all of the decisions being made.

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