How Long Will My Dog Bleed After Having Puppies? 8 Preventive Measures to Keep Your Dog Healthy
A dog’s vaginal discharge after whelping makes inexperienced owners nervous. But this is a normal physiological process that accompanies postpartum. In order not to worry in vain and not to make your dog nervous, you should know what kind of discharge is normal and in which cases you should immediately seek medical help.
What happens to your dog’s body during pregnancy and after birth?
During pregnancy, a female dog’s body undergoes serious changes. Not only the shape of the body changes but also the qualitative composition and volume of blood, the hormonal balance and bone structure. Whelping is marked by rapid changes in the body – the uterus involution, the lactation period and further hormonal changes.
Vaginal bleeding after whelping is normal. It indicates the first stages of purification of the body. Dog owners should carefully observe their pets and their offspring, noting any changes in the behavior and health. This will allow you to timely detect any possible inflammatory processes in the genitals after delivery and to avoid serious complications.
It’s necessary to correctly interpret the symptoms that accompany vaginal bleeding. The discharge may be natural (lochia) and pathological (with admixtures of pus, large amounts of mucus, and unpleasant odor).
Normally, a pregnant bitch may continue to have bloody, mucous or blood-tinged secretions (lochia) from the birth canal for 3 to 6 weeks. Gradually, the amount of discharge should decrease and finally stop altogether. However, the process of natural uterine cleansing must be monitored, so as not to miss the alarming symptoms of pathology if there are any. Normally, vaginal discharge changes its consistency and color. For the first few days after whelping, normal lochia may look like this:
- Grayish or light green discharge of dense consistency with flecks of the remaining amniotic fluid and fragments of the placenta coming out of the uterine cavity. The smell of the discharge shouldn’t be gross.
- Dark, almost black colored lochia without a putrid odor is also considered normal. The dark color of the mucus is due to coagulated blood from the capillaries, which flows out when the placenta retreats.
- Dark mucus with a brownish or greenish tinge is lymph and traces of blood in the amniotic fluid and mucus.
If the lochia isn’t too abundant and has normal consistency and odor, there’s no need to be alarmed. Bleeding may be accompanied for the first few days by a subfebrile body temperature and diarrhea, which usually ends in 1-2 days.
You might be alarmed by your dog’s strange behavior – she begins to act as if hours before labor:
- leaves the nesting box;
- digging in the bedding;
- breathing heavily and intermittently.
Some confuse this behavior with the symptoms of milk fever – eclampsia. But the real reason for this is your dog’s discomfort caused by uterine contractions and irritation of the sensitive nipples when feeding the pups.
As a rule, this condition passes on its own, but you can consult a veterinarian for reassurance. They would normally giver a dog some mild sedative and painkillers in a dosage that depends on the size of the pet. Concerns should be raised if the lochia become more profuse or its smell gets very unpleasant.
If you notice that bleeding gets more intense, watch your pup more closely. If there’s a large amount of blood in the discharge, consult a veterinarian for help.
In order to monitor the color and amount of secretions from the uterus during the involution, it’s recommended that a white cloth or disposable waterproof sheets be placed in the dog’s nesting box. This will allow you to keep track of all types of discharge and have an objective clinical picture.
Normally, a few days after whelping the color of the discharge changes from black-green and reddish to brown. At the end of the third week, the discharge should become pale pink and mucous. At the end of the uterus cleansing process, the lochia become clear and shortly stop altogether.
The size of the female, the number of pups and the breed predisposition directly affect the amount and duration of the discharge.
Hidden threat: things to watch out for
Postpartum discharge deserves special attention from the owner. Its quantity, consistency and color may indicate the development of pathologies during the postpartum period.
The following types of uterine secretions should alert you:
- Mucous, mostly watery discharge with large amounts of blood.
- Thick green discharge or mucus with pus and blood (brown-red mucus).
- Strong-smelling discharge with a mixture of pus and blood.
- The appearance of scarlet blood with clots.
- Liquid brown mucus with a pungent, unpleasant odor.
You should also be concerned about discharge that lasts more than a month after whelping. In case of pathology, uterine bleeding will be accompanied by general depressed state of the animal, refusal to eat, hyperthermia, or respiratory disorders (shortness of breath).
Most females, even if they are not feeling well, continue to actively care for and feed their pups. This in turn leads to dangerous complications.
The danger of the postpartum period lies in the fact that the inner layers of the uterus are not completely cleared. Dead fetuses, remnants of the placenta or afterbirth might remain inside. The cervix closes and doesn’t allow large particles of tissue to pass through. Left in the cavity of the organ, they start decaying.
A watery, abundant discharge indicates that the afterbirth hasn’t fully detached from the uterus. In this case, it’s necessary to take your dog to the veterinary clinic urgently because the remains of the placenta prevent the uterus from contracting properly, provoking the development of inflammation. Early diagnosis will help avoid surgical intervention. A pathology can be eliminated with medication therapy.
Black discharge in the first 24-48 hours after whelping is considered natural but only if it doesn’t have a pungent smell. Otherwise, it indicates that there’s still placenta or a dead fetus in the uterus. Left in the uterine cavity, tissues start decaying and provoke general intoxication of the body. A dog becomes lethargic, starts vomiting and there’s an increase in body temperature.
In the absence of skilled care, a bitch might die of sepsis. Pathology can be eliminated by surgery with the further prescription of a course of restorative therapy.
Profuse brown discharge with streaks of blood or bright scarlet color indicates bleeding in the uterine cavity. The duration of bleeding negatively affects the overall condition of the dog’s body weakened by pregnancy and whelping. Dogs quickly lose vitality and die as a result of heavy blood loss.
Bloody discharge indicates the development of necrotic processes in the uterus that might take place due to the remains of placenta that weren’t fully withdrawn from the uterus. The condition requires immediate medical intervention. If not treated promptly, dogs will develop necrosis, blood infection, the accumulation of large amounts of pus in the cavity and, as a consequence, the rupture of the uterine walls. Necrosis can also develop in case of a dead fetus remaining in the uterus.
The development of acute metritis is a latent threat to the health of a female dog. This pathology develops in the walls of the uterus against the background of infection of the birth canal. This can occur during the improper delivery or immediately afterwards.
Metritis is associated with a retention of fetal membranes, afterbirth, or fetuses in the uterine cavity for more than 24 hours. Metritis can be caused by bacterial pathogens entering the genital system from the intestinal tract or the urinary tract through the bloodstream. If metritis develops, the discharge will have a characteristic pungent repulsive odor and a dirty brownish color.
Physiologically, the cervix is closed and serves as a kind of protective barrier against the entry of various pathogenic microflora into the uterine cavity. Before whelping and during heat, the cervix opens, which might cause various pathogens penetration into the uterus, which can lead to multiple health issues.
In order to avoid complications during whelping, it’s necessary to closely monitor the process. It’s advisable to call a veterinarian or have the number of the nearest veterinary clinic on hand. If complications develop, it’s important to seek qualified help as soon as possible.
It’s possible to avoid inflammation during labor and postpartum period by following a number of rules:
- Keep the bedding in the nesting box clean (remove dirty sheets in a timely manner).
- Bathe and wipe your dog dry at least once a day.
- Disinfect a lactating dog’s teats with weak solution of furacin (if necessary).
- Keep an eye on the number of pups and the exit of afterbirth (it’s better to write this information down so that you have a clear idea later).
- Don’t prevent your dog from licking herself. Her saliva contains enzymes that help coagulate blood and have a disinfectant effect.
- Douching with a warm solution of synthomycin emulsion should be done once a week to avoid uterine congestion.
- Make sure your dog doesn’t feel too cold or too hot.
- Take the dog out to relieve its needs sparingly – she shouldn’t be allowed to move actively or take long walks.
During the first few hours after the last puppy comes out, your dog shouldn’t be allowed to leave the nesting box. A bowl of clean water and food should be placed next to it. Rarely do females feel hungry after giving birth, so refusal to eat even on schedule shouldn’t alarm you. The amount of urine should be monitored as well. In case of suspicious symptoms, don’t hesitate to call a veterinarian.
Following all the preventive measures mentioned above during postpartum will reduce the risk of infection and complications.