BIRTH PROBLEMS

When your pet gives birth this should be a happy event and not one associated with endless problems. The difficulty some owners have when watching their pet produce a litter and suckle them is knowing how to recognise a problem when it arises. Unless you are aware of some of the pitfalls that Mother Nature can produce, it may be difficult to judge when to step in to rectify them.

The process of birth itself may not run quite as smoothly as hoped. Cats generally suffer fewer problems than dogs. In both species however, if the female is particularly small or undersized then the pelvis might not be large enough to allow easy delivery of the babies. ( Consequently it is wise to only have them mated when they are full-sized ).

Is my pet is in difficulty ?

If your queen or bitch has been contracting for a few hours without delivering any young - she may have a problem. 

 

Signs of difficulty giving birth need to be understood if your pet is to be helped in the right way. The womb itself has two 'horns' and foetuses will implant in both horns, normally leaving the cervis uninvolved. When labour begins, if the mother is obviously having contractions for several hours and no babies have been delivered, there may be one of two explanations : either the pelvis is too small to allow delivery, or the first foetus has moved sideways to block the cervix crossways and its head is in the wrong position.

 

This unfortunate situation will mean that the litter cannot be delivered naturally. The mother should be exmained by a vet a this point to establish whether there are signs of a foetus head in the birth canal. If so, then the birth process can be helped along by an injection of the hormone which causes the uterus to contract - oxytocin. If not, then an X-ray or ultrasound examination will confirm the presence of a foetus right at the cervix and your pet may require a caesarian section to deliver the litter. 

The situation you encounter might be very different however, if only one or two young are born and you know there are more to come. The mother may stop having contractions and there will be more young inside that should be born but haven't. 

I think there's more babies inside !

Sometimes only one or two young are born. This happens more frequently in first-time pregnancies. However, this does not mean to say there are no more inside the mother. 

 

If you had your pet scanned while pregnant, and several babies were seen, then you will know how many to expect. If your pet was not scanned - you will have to rely on Mother Nature to tell you when the birth process is finished. 

If your animal has stopped having contractions and seems content with the young delivered up to that point, an examination by a vet should reveal whether any more young are to be expected. An oxytocin injection may be necessary to help finish the process.

Does my pet need a caesar ?

Sadly, if your pet has babies trapped inside the womb which cannot for some reason be delivered naturally, then a veterinary examination should indicate if a caesarian section is necessary. Babies left in the womb after the birth process has largely 'finished' will die and begin to putrefy. The mother will become ill and stop eating and feeding the live young she may have already. 

"If the female is particularly small or undersized then the pelvis might not be large enought to allow easy delivery.  Good advice is to only mate your pet when they have reached full size.

If your queen or bitch has been contracting for a few hours without delivering any young - she may have a problem.

© 2017 Dr. Chris Furley  I The Henley Veterinary Consultant I    Privacy