Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

Whelping Puppies: Lost One Puppy, Saved Three

Dead puppy on a towel

RIP baby girl. I will not forget you...

My Malti-Poo was due to whelp her puppies. I had been taking her temperature every hour or two starting several days prior the due date. When her temperature dropped to 98.1 a couple days ago I assumed the puppies were coming within 12 hours. However there was nothing for two more days. Looking back I did think she had a couple contractions a few days before, but they had stopped.

My female's temperature did not spike over the last couple days giving me any warning of a problem and it finally fell to 97.7 very early in the morning. I knew the pups should be coming out because from what I understand about puppies being born when a temperature goes that low there is no turning back.

I did an internal exam on my female dog and I could tell that she was dilated and I could feel the puppy in about 3 inches. It was presenting itself in the birth canal, but it was not entering the birth canal. It was 10:00 in the morning. She had been having contractions. I used a rubber glove and lube and when I pulled out my finger it was green. From what I read this can be bad, but also can be normal if there are still contractions and the girl is pushing. It can be bad if the contractions fade away. My female dog was walking around and there were no contractions. It seemed they had stopped. This along with the green color worried me.

At 11:00 in the morning I did another internal and there was more green with no further progress. I tried feathering her, but I could not get strong contractions. With a puppy sitting at the birth canal and with the feathering it should produce contractions.

I stalled till 11:45 a.m. and called my vet for support. I explained to the vet that the puppy was not in the birth canal, but at the entrance of the birth canal. I could feel a foot and a tail, but it was too far up to grab. I asked him if I should give her some Oxytosin because feathering was not giving me any contractions. He agreed that I should give my girl an Oxytosin shot in her leg muscle.

The result of the shot was contractions, but still there was no puppy. I managed to get a hold of the foot of the puppy and I pulled it. Unfortunately that is when I was 100% sure my girl needed a cesarean section. I had ONE foot, no sac and the other foot was going off to the side making an anchor. This foot showed death with a very white flesh tone. A dead puppy is a hard puppy to push out, as they crumple into a blob and do not slide out easily.

I was off to the vet in a hurry to interrupt their lunch hour. On arrival the vet also tried to grasp the puppy's foot and pull her out, but agreed very quickly that she needed to be sectioned. This needed to be done quickly if we hoped to save the other puppies that were not able to come out because they were being blocked by the dead pup.

Dead Puppy wrapped in the sac

The remaining three puppies were very full of fluids. They were drowning, but they were revived and we were able to get them pinked up.

From what the vet said the problem pup had passed away a few days ago and was blocking the birth canal. There was absolutely no way my girl would have been able to give birth naturally. What could have been a very sad ending was a very JOYOUS occasion knowing the remaining puppies were saved and are now thriving. I am lucky to have a vet who knows about whelping puppies because not all do. Most vets would have told me to wait and not have recognized that it was an emergency. Had I waited it would have been a disaster. Time was ticking for my babies. When I got to the vet they were ready for my dog with the operation table, knock out meds and shaver, etc... What if they had not been? What if they made me wait? I am glad I knew how to take temperatures, do the internal, and that I had a general understanding of breeding, thanks to all the reading I did on this website. But I still felt horrible thinking back that I should have gone to the vet sooner, but thankful that it was not too late. Had I waited a few more hours all of my precious puppies would have been dead and possibly my female mommy as well. Thinking back I wonder if the vet did tell me to wait, would I have listened? I guess my bottom-line advice is if you want to breed your dog make sure you keep in mind that not all vets are experts in whelping. If you are not an expert at least make sure you find yourself a mentor who is. Your dog's life may depend on it.

Story courtesy of a Maltipoo breeder in the USA,© Dog Breed Info Center® All Rights Reserved

Whelping: Close-to-Textbook Case