Among one of the complications that may affect the bitch after birth is the issue of retained placentas. The placenta plays a vital role during pregnancy, connecting the puppies to the mother's dog uterine wall. It is thanks to the placenta that the puppies are supplied with oxygen and food and that their waste products are disposed of.
When puppies are born the placenta is no longer needed, therefore it is expulsed from the mother dog's body. Generally, this occurs withing 15 minutes from the time each puppy is delivered. Each puppy should have one placenta, therefore, it is important to count the numbers of placentas expelled to ensure none of them is retained inside the mother.
Cases of retained placentas are quite uncommon in dogs, however there appears to be a predisposition in toy breeds. Generally, it is mostly seen in large litters and sometimes in difficult deliveries.
The main issue is that it may be dififcult for the breeders to count the placentas, because mother dogs instinctively will ingest them after they are expelled. It is beleived that the placentas will provide mother dog with extra energy that will help her go through the first days of nursing the pups. The cosumption of such placentas is the reason why some mother dogs develop soft stools for a few days after birth.
Retained placentas have the potential to cause uterine infections and toxicity, therefore a mother dog exhibiting signs of illness or that have not expelled all the placentas shuold be seen by a vet promptly.
Symptoms Suggesting a Retained placenta
Normally after birth, the mother will develop a greenish-black discharge that will gradually become an odorless reddish-brown within 48 hours.The main symptoms suggesting a retained placenta consists therefore, of the following:
-Development of green, fetid vaginal discharge for more than 24 hours after giving birth
-Loss of appetite
-Sometimes a retained placenta may be felt as an abdominal mass
Treatment for retained placenta
Treatment consists of an injection of oxytocin, a special medication that causes contraction of the uterus which will help the mother expel the retained placenta. If there is an infection of the uterus a spay surgery may be recommended.Prevention of Retained Placenta While there is no way of preventing retained placentas in dogs, owners must keep a close eye on the placentas being expelled after each puppy is born and should watch the bitch carefully for possibly ingesting them. While it may be difficult to keep count of the placentas in very large litters, it is certainly worth the effort for priceless piece of mind.