Breeders Club

Potential Problems

Breeding from your bitch isn’t without risk. Below you will find details of some of the issues you may face.

Breeders Club

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Infertility problems can arise from:

  • Breeding management – for example, different bitches come into heat at different intervals. If you miss the vital moment it will be too late
  • Diet – overweight or underweight females may have problems conceiving and giving birth
  • Genetic issues
  • Physical problems such as abnormalities of the uterus
  • Cystic ovaries
  • Bacterial (eg Brucellosis) or viral infections.

Ways of tackling infertility include:

  • Knowing the animals, recording their cycles and observing for signs of oestrus
  • Using cross breeding to raise hybrid vigour
  • Veterinary examination of animals
  • Fertility treatments such as superovulation.

Dystocia – problems giving birth, can have several causes:

  • Problems with the pelvic canal – for example, if the pelvis is too narrow, either from birth or as a result of an injury. If this is the case a caesarean section is likely to be the only treatment possible.
  • The size of the offspring – for example, in bulldogs the puppies’ heads are often too large to be born naturally – again, a caesarean section is necessary.
  • The position of the offspring – most mammals are born head first or rear legs first. If they are not in the correct position, this can cause problems. A vet may be able to reposition them.
  • Uterine intertia – this is where the uterus is not able to contract and push the puppy out. This can happen particularly if the mother is exhausted. Your vet will need to give an injection to stimulate contractions.
  • Prolonged labour can also reduce blood sugar or calcium levels – a vet can give dextrose or calcium injections.

Post partum problems

After birth, the female is at risk from several possible problems. These include uterine prolapse, eclampsia, mastitis and uterine infections.
It is important to have the mother and puppies examined by your vet within 48 hours of birth. The vet will check the mother to make sure there is no infection and that she is producing sufficient milk. The puppies will also be examined to make sure there are no birth defects such as cleft palates.

Uterine prolapse is where the uterus protrudes from the vulva. It is rare in most smaller mammals but is an emergency when it occurs.

• The main symptom is the uterus protruding from the vulva
• Treatment will depend on a vet’s diagnosis. In some cases it is possible to save the uterus; in others, a hysterectomy is needed.

Eclampsia is a potentially fatal illness. It is caused by a shortage of calcium, resulting perhaps from milk production or poor nutrition.

• Symptoms include nervousness, restlessness, stiffness of gait and a lack of maternal instincts. This can develop to a fever, muscle spasms, seizures and not being able to stand. They usually occur during the three weeks after birth
• A vet is required and treatment is usually a calcium injection followed by oral calcium supplements.

Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary glands. It can be caused by an infection.

• Symptoms include soreness, pain, redness and hardness of the glands and a lack of maternal instincts.
• Veterinary treatment depends on the symptoms but can include antibiotics for infections. The puppies can continue to nurse if the milk remains normal.

Uterine infections such as metritis or pyometra are inflammations of the uterus, which may be caused by a retained placenta.

• Symptoms include fever, foul-smelling discharge from the vagina, loss of appetite, listlessness, reduced milk production and a lack of maternal instincts. They usually occur during the first week after birth.
• Veterinary treatment is necessary and includes injections and fluid therapy.
A vaginal discharge can also be caused if the uterus does not repair itself quickly after birth. This condition will usually clear up naturally but it is wise to check with a vet in case metritis or another condition is the cause.

Neonatal defects

An inherited defect is a disease or disorder that is inherited genetically.

A congenital defect is a condition that is present at birth, as a result of hereditary or environmental factors.

An umbilical hernia is an opening in the muscle wall where the umbilicus (belly button) is located. The hernia sometimes allows the abdominal contents to pass through the opening. Most umbilical hernias in dogs are probably inherited and they occur in some breeds more than others.

Cleft palate is an abnormal opening in the roof of the mouth. It is the result of failure of the two sides of the palate (roof of the mouth) to come together and fuse during embryonic development. A cleft palate results in an opening between the nasal passages and the mouth. It is most often a congenital disorder, likely inherited.

Undershot/overshot jaws: In an undershot mouth, the lower jaw is visibly longer than the upper jaw. Overshot is the opposite of undershot, the top jaw is physically longer than the lower jaw. This can affect the mouth’s function as an overshot mouth usually indicates a weakness in the lower jaw.

Entropion is a genetic condition in which a portion of the eyelid is inverted or folded inward. This can cause an eyelash or hair to irritate and scratch the surface of the eye, leading to corneal ulceration.

Ectropion is a condition where the eyelid is turned outwards away from the eyeball. Because of this, exposure to environmental irritants and bacterial infection can result in ongoing, recurrent conjunctivitis.

Hip dysplasia is a common inherited problem of dogs. It is associated with abnormal joint structure and a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue and ligaments that would normally support the hip joint. Most dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips but due to their genetic makeup, the soft tissues that surround the joint develop abnormally causing subluxation and osteoarthritis.

Septicaemia is commonly caused by environmental contamination, as a result of the area where the bitch and puppies are kept not being kept clean. This can cause umbilical cord, eye and skin infections. Good hygiene of the neonates’ environment is vital.

Why should I register?

1. Week by week updates on your dog’s pregnancy

2. Expert advice on all aspects of dog breeding

3. Enjoy discount rewards on Burgess products

Register now

Have a question?

If you have a question, please email us or call us on 0800 413 969. Our dedicated consumer care team are available to answer any questions you may have. If you are concerned about the immediate health of your pet, please seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.

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