Yapper is having puppies!

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 16, 2011

Excitement buzzes through the center. Yapper has had the first of six puppies. She is in for protective custody, because she has valuable puppies and the new owner has not delivered puppies before. Besides it is cold outside.

Yapper was bred 62 and 60 days ago, so the puppies are due today or day after tomorrow. When I came in this morning, I looked at her and “knew” that she would deliver today. There are three stages of labor, and something told me that she was in stage I labor.

Normally, stage I labor has behavioral changes like anxiety or restlessness. There may be panting, anorexia, vomiting and shivering. Yapper was not doing any of these things, but neither did she greet me on my morning rounds. Stage I labor lasts for 6 – 12 hours and uterine contractions are not detectable externally, but the cervix dilates completely.

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Stage II labor is the active portion of labor. The fetus is expelled to become a puppy. There are visible uterine contractions and straining.

The first puppy should be delivered within 1-2 hours of the onset of stage II labor. After a puppy is delivered, she may have a resting period. Resting can last up to four hours, but active straining should result in another puppy in five to 30 minutes.

Two pups can be delivered in rapid succession, especially with a large litter. (If there is more than four hours between puppies or active straining for more than 30 to 60 minutes, there may be a problem.)

Stage III labor is the expulsion of the placenta. This usually is five to 15 minutes after the puppy comes out. (Neither puppies nor placentas should be pulled.) Multiple placentas may follow the delivery of pups if they are whelped in a short period of time. The greenish fluid is normal. It is called lochia and is associated with placental separation.

But Yapper is having a problem. The second puppy’s sac is out for 30 minutes without a puppy. As long as the sac is unbroken, the puppy is still getting nutrition from mom and we have time.

But this is officially a dystocia or difficult birth. (And here I thought they all were!) Uterine inertia is when the uterus doesn’t contract anymore. If it is because of a blockage or pelvic canal that is too small, surgery is the only option.

In Yapper’s case we took X-rays yesterday and documented six puppies and a large enough pelvic canal. But inertia can be caused by only having one puppy, too many puppies stretching the uterus, stress/anxiety or metabolic problems.

Low calcium is a common problem due to improper diet. Yapper eats a high quality proper diet, so in her case, the low calcium was due to her small size and the number and size of the puppies.

She got some calcium/phosphorus injections and later some oxytocin to stimulate contractions.

That got us puppy number 2 and before that one was out of the sac, puppy number 3. But after more injections and more waiting, Tyler and I are waiting and still no puppies. Yapper seems happy in her resting phase. And if everything is normal, we wait. I saw one cat go for 2 days between kittens.

No matter how long I do this job, I think I will always revere the miracle of birth.

Tonight I share that joy with a young man starting toward this career. He will remember this night forever. I know, because I still remember my first time I helped bring a new life into the world.

By the way, Yapper delivered all six of her puppies, with only a little extra help.

MJ Wixsom