The call came in at 11:00 p.m.... My advice: Go to the vet NOW, no matter the cost!
cenario: Septic dam almost dies on day six.
All seemed so good for the first five days. But, then???
This is what happens if you leave your dam alone to whelp. You just do not know if all the placentas came out. This dam was NOT left alone but she had one puppy unwitnessed.... Silently, while we were sleeping RIGHT beside her. The remaining litter was delivered with the placentas. But the ONE sneaky puppy was born, and mom had the sac off, and the pup was breathing, cord clamped, and no placenta. (We assumed she ate it when we woke up to a puppy cry, which is quite exciting.) Some dams deliver silently. A retained placenta is not always a problem, but it can turn very, very serious, very, very fast.
Here is the story
Dam delivers her puppies on a Thursday...
Thursday, we call this Day 1
Friday all is normal and fine, Day 2
Saturday all is fine and great, Day 3
Sunday fine, pups gaining, Day 4
Dew claws are removed from the puppies. The vet is happy with everything, BUT... Sunday at night, the dam didn't want to eat her dinner, which is not normal, but not a concern at this time.
Monday the pups are fine, Day 5
Concern: The dam is still not eating, but she is drinking. We try some better foods, and she still refuses? Hmmmm?
Tuesday, the pups are fine, BUT the dam is not!! Day 6
She has now stopped drinking, as well as continuing to refuse food. As the day progresses, she becomes lethargic. We try offering pure chicken, and she refuses that. Something is wrong. By midnight we are in EXTREME worry that she won't make it to morning. She has suddenly become a totally different dog. Looks like she is going to die. She is a total rag doll and fading. Dam syndrome... We are amazed how fast she has turned on us. We make a midnight emergency vet call. We will NOT wait until morning. She is immediately given antibiotics BEFORE tests are run. There is no time to wait. She is not dehydrated, as we had been syringing water into her, but she is put on IV and given a few different proteins by the vet.
Wednesday, Day 7. She remains at the vet all day on antibiotics without a lot of progress.
Thursday, Day 8. The vet gives the okay to go home. She has come around. PHEW !!!!!
Pups have been hand-fed puppy milk replacer for the last few days, every two hours and are doing great. They have gained weight in their mom’s absence.
DIAGNOSIS: The dam went septic!! Canine septic shock—retained the placenta (acute) leading to uterine infection toxicity.
And oh my, you cannot imagine how fast your dam will die. Septic means producing sepsis, which is infection by pathogenic micro-organisms.
The prognosis (outcome) for animals with a retained placenta varies, depending on the length of time that the placenta has been retained and the speed with which veterinary care is sought. Acute infection of the uterus can develop if the placenta is not passed. If infection does not develop, the prognosis for future successful pregnancies is good. If infection does occur, the animal's ability to become pregnant again is fair to poor. Treatment is a must for recovery.
Other things that can happen
Subinvolution of placental sites: where the placental sites do not degenerate and serosanguineous drainage is noted at 7-12 weeks postpartum. It usually occurs in dogs 2 1/2 years old, with the first or second litter.
Metritis: usually occurs at postpartum and is associated with a retained fetus or placenta. Signs: anorexia, depression, vomiting, vaginal discharge, fever, mastitis. Usually occurs immediately postpartum.
Metritis is an inflammation of the uterus. This uterine disease is similar to pyometra, but it has some differences. Unlike pyometra, metritis is most often a bacterial uterine infection that develops in the immediate post partum (after giving birth) period and occasionally after abortion or breeding. It is most often associated with retained fetuses or placentas.
Although this section is based on a whelping of an English Mastiff, it also contains good general whelping information on large-breed dogs. You can find more whelping information in the links above. The links below tell the story of Sassy, an English Mastiff. Sassy has a wonderful temperament. She loves humans and adores children. An all-around mild mannered, wonderful Mastiff, Sassy, however, is not the best mother toward her puppies. She is not rejecting them; she will nurse them when a human places them on her to feed, however she will not clean the pups or pay any attention to them. It is as if they are not her puppies. This litter is getting mom’s milk with major human interaction, manually giving each and every pup what they need. In return, the pups will be super socialized and will make remarkable pets, however the work involved is astounding. It takes one dedicated breeder to keep this situation healthy. Thankfully this litter has just that. Read the links below to get the full story. The pages within include a wealth of information that everyone can appreciate and benefit from.