Just as it is with humans, a miscarriage for your dog can be a traumatic experience. Unfortunately, unlike humans, she won’t be able to tell you what’s wrong. Spontaneous abortions can occur for a number of reasons at any point in your dog’s pregnancy. So, to best help your dog in this difficult time, it is important you know the symptoms of a canine miscarriage in order to get her the medical attention she needs.
What is a Miscarriage?
Depending on when it occurs in your dog’s pregnancy, a miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion or reabsorption of one or more of the litter. This happens suddenly and is irreversible, though the mother typically makes a full recovery. Some veterinarians may be able to help your pet carry the rest of her litter to term if they were not all affected by the miscarriage, though the prognosis is usually poor for any remaining fetuses.
Causes of A Dog Miscarriage
Unfortunately, there are a number of things that can result in your dog miscarrying her litter. Depending on the cause, certain breeds are more prone to a miscarriage compared to others. In addition, malnourished dogs have an increased risk of miscarriage as they do not have the nutrients needed to support a pregnancy. The causes of canine miscarriage include:
- Bacterial, Viral, or Parasitic Infections
- Hormonal Imbalance
- Nutritional Deficiencies
- Fetal Defects
- Endocrine Disorders (i.e. Cushing’s Disease)
- Genetic Defects
- Medication Reactions
The most common cause of canine miscarriage is the result of hormonal imbalances, although any of the above can have adverse effects on a dog’s pregnancy.
Dog Miscarriage Signs And Symptoms
If a spontaneous reabsorption occurs early in your dog’s 63-day gestation period, it is possible that she will exhibit no signs or symptoms that it is has taken place. However, a late stage abortion will result in noticeable symptoms so it is up to you as her owner to keep a watchful eye for any changes. The most common symptom of a miscarriage is abnormal and abundant vaginal bleeding or discharge. The color of the discharge tends to be between deep green or black with a thick texture that may contain pus. Although, it can sometimes be bloody and thin. The important thing to note is that the volume of blood or discharge will be substantial. In some cases, you may even find the expelled fetus.
Other signs that your dog has experienced a miscarriage include stomach pain, weight loss, fever, dehydration, restlessness, lethargy, decreased energy levels, diarrhea, vomiting, and shifts in behavior that may indicate canine depression.
Diagnosis & Treatment
If you suspect that your dog has miscarried all or some of her litter, you should seek out veterinary care immediately. Your vet will evaluate the presence and health of fetuses using palpation, radiography, and ultrasounds. X-rays and ultrasounds can be particularly useful when identifying the contents of your dog’s uterus and to assess the viability of any remaining fetuses. Additional tests may be needed to determine if there was an underlying condition which caused the miscarriage. From these tests, your veterinarian will be able to tell if further treatment is required.
Once the vet has determined the cause of the miscarriage, they will devise a dog miscarriage treatment plan to help your pet return to full health. First, if any fetuses were deemed to be viable, your vet will help your pet carry them to term. Otherwise, your vet can ensure that your dog has expelled all pregnancy-related tissues with an ultrasound to avoid further complications. If the miscarriage was the result of an infection, your vet may prescribe antibiotics for your dog.
During recovery, you will need to make sure your dog rests and remains hydrated. Most canines show some signs of depression after a miscarriage and will require a quiet place to rest during their recovery. You should continue to monitor vaginal discharge over the days following a miscarriage and notify your vet if anything unusual occurs. As your dog recovers, the discharge will cease and after some time she should return to her normal self.
A dog’s pregnancy is a delicate thing and you will need to ensure that you are providing your pup with all she needs to successfully carry her litter to term. Unfortunately, in some cases, there is nothing you can do to prevent the cause of your dog’s miscarriage. In those scenarios, simply being there for your pet and getting her the appropriate medical attention is all you can do.
“Miscarriage in Dogs.” PetMD, Accessed 9 Oct. 2018. www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/reproductive/c_dg_spontaneous_abortion_pregnancy_loss.
“Miscarriage in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost.” WagWalking, 30 Sept. 2015, Accessed 9 Oct. 2018. www.wagwalking.com/condition/miscarriage.
Millburn, Naomi. “Signs of a Dog Miscarriage.” Cuteness.com, 9 Feb. 2017, Accessed 9 Oct. 2018. www.cuteness.com/article/signs-dog-miscarriage.