When to call your vet
We have discussed in depth the issue of ‘difficult labour’ (actually, we have belaboured the point in two separate columns), explaining what you can do at home to initially solve the problem. But there comes a time when the problem is obviously too difficult to handle. Do not try to be ‘macho’ and show off a dexterity which you may not possess. As ‘vexed’ as a vet might become at a client presenting a dystocia problem on, say, Easter Sunday (worse, on Easter Monday – vets are human too and want to be with their families), no vet worth his/her salt will turn away a bitch with labour difficulties. In fact, I firmly believe that it is better to ‘disturb’ your vet on a ‘false alarm’ (even if only to gain reassurance), than to delay in the hope that in time the situation will correct itself without help. Often the problem can be dealt with rather simply, if attended to at once. However, the same problem, when neglected, becomes complicated – often leading to an emergency operation.Something may be wrong when:
(i) A bitch goes into labour (serious straining) and does not deliver a puppy within two hours. Purposeful straining indicates a puppy is partly in the birth canal. It is a mistake to wait four or six hours as the mother would likely be exhausted, and normal delivery of the puppies may not be possible ‒ even when the initial cause of the dystocia problem is removed.
(ii) The bitch passes dark green or bloody fluid before the delivery of her first puppy. This indicates separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus, which means that the puppy is not getting oxygen from his mother. After the first puppy, green or bloody fluid emerging from the vagina is normal.
(iii) The membranes rupture and a puppy is not delivered in 30 minutes. The passage of yellow fluid means rupture of the water bag (amniotic sac) surrounding the puppy.
(iv) Labour stops and there are signs of restlessness, anxiety, weakness or fatigue. Usually, puppies come 15 minutes to two hours apart. Over three hours between puppies is a sign of trouble.
Next week I will share with you a text which I found to be most appropriate to the theme of assisting the mother dog to give birth to her puppies, if a ‘solvable’ difficulty presents itself.
The heading above reads “when to call your vet.” This leads perhaps to the advice about when not to disrupt your tired veterinarian’s life. I dare say that after more than 44 years of praxis, a book can be written on the subject.
I want to think that pet owners (relative to ascertaining information from vets at the most inappropriate times) do not begin by being selfish, nor do they have the desire to be uncaring about the vet’s need for rest and relaxation. Mostly, the companion animal owners call the vet because they are panicking. The ‘unfairness’ element creeps in when the dog has been ailing for a while, but the owner now suddenly realizes that his wait-and-see attitude towards his pet’s unwellness has not made matters better for the pet, or that his giving some ‘black and red’ capsules have not improved the situation. Instead ‘Rover’s’ condition has gotten visibly worse.
The moral of the story here is to contact your vet during his/her working hours the moment you notice that your pet is off colour and not its normal self. A sudden loss of appetite is perhaps the cardinal symptom that should alert you that your pet is ailing. If this inappetence is accompanied by vomiting and lethargy, then consider the matter serious and do not hope that the pet’s condition will get better on its own. May I also strongly suggest that you do not intervene by administering your own medicine; and do not believe anything your equally non-knowledgeable neighbour/friend advises you to do. You don’t know which medication to use, and you don’t know the dosage rates of the medication. Leave it to the professional. And I mean professional – the one that has been trained to deal with sick animals, not the quack out to make a quick buck.
All the best for the coming week!