It goes without saying that not all pregnancies are necessarily planned. This can also apply to dogs. When your dog develops the telltale signs of pregnancy (nesting behaviour, an enlargement of the mammary glands, weight gain), you'll need to take her to the vet. The pregnancy will be confirmed with a pet ultrasound, and while the impending arrival of puppies might be a surprise, it's important to be aware of complications that can mean that your dog is unable to carry the puppies to term.
Regular veterinary check-ups will be necessary once your dog's pregnancy has been confirmed. A pet ultrasound will be conducted during these appointments to chart the development of her puppies, and it's during these ultrasounds that any complications can be noted.
Sometimes the growth (or lack thereof) of the foetuses can indicate a developmental issue in the womb. When the ultrasound indicates that the puppies are not growing as expected, your dog might be affected by an opportunistic viral or bacterial infection that has resulted in embryonic death. As tragic as it is, the puppies have expired in the womb. Your dog might require surgery to remove the foetuses.
Occasionally, the ultrasound can indicate a type of reversal of the pregnancy. Again, this can be caused by an infection, and when the puppies have expired in the womb, resorption of the foetuses can occur. This is when the foetuses are actually broken down while in the womb, and absorbed back into the mother's body. The process is only possible in the early stages of pregnancy before bone formation has begun. Sometimes only partial resorption happens, leaving remnants of the foetuses in the womb. Again, surgery can be necessary to remove any expired puppies that have been subjected to partial resorption.
In some cases, particularly with younger dogs or dogs with an underlying medical condition, your vet might suggest that her health will be jeopardised by carrying the puppies to term. This can be despite the fact that the ultrasound indicates the normal development of the foetuses. In this instance, your vet might recommend that the pregnancy is terminated.
Even when you weren't planning for your dog to have puppies, a dog pregnancy is an exciting time. It's crucial that she sees the vet on a regular basis so that any abnormalities are quickly identified, as these can indicate an abnormal pregnancy which can require medical intervention.
For more information, contact a vet clinic that offers ultrasounds for pets.