Dystocia in dogs and cats
Dystocia is a medical term for difficult birth or failure to progress in labour through the genital tract without outside help. Dystocia is a particularly common condition. It is of utmost importance to be able to recognise it in order to treat it early. Delay in identifying and treating it places the baby animals and the mother at risk.
Various criteria that help us identify dystocia are:
– The mother shows no signs of going into labour although “it is around that time”. The limit is 70-72 days after mating. It must be stressed that particularly in female dogs there is a drop in body temperature by 1 degree Celsius 24-36 hours before going into labour. If the temperature drops and the dog shows no signs of going into labour in the next 24-36 hours, then we have a case of dystocia.
– There are foetal fluids in the vagina 2-3 hours earlier but there are no signs of giving birth
– Intense contractions and effort on the part of the mother for 20-30 minutes without resulting in birth.
– Labour lasts for more than 4-6 hours without birth.
The patient’s history is of great assistance in diagnosing dystocia, especially if the mother has experienced dystocia in the past or its pelvis is narrower, as is the case, for instance, in a history of pelvic fractures.
It is useful to have our veterinarian’s emergency telephone number to contact him/her in case of worrying signs. The panic of a pet owner with no previous experience in the birth process can lead to wrong conclusions, so it is best to consult your vet.