Back in early July we were eagerly awaiting news of one of our clients dogs. Her two Brussels Griffons, Leia and Chewie had been bred and the puppies were imminent. We were awaiting their arrival and for her owner to call us with the good news. However, instead we received a phone call that Leia had been in labour for a few hours with no puppies arriving. Dr. Tanya Lovelock was on that day and asked for Leia to be brought straight down. When she arrived she was given a full examination and it was noted that although she was in labour her contractions were quite weak.
In order to try and induce the labour she was injected with oxytocin. This drug stimulates uterine contractions. Approximately 30 minutes after this we were thrilled to see one healthy puppy, a little boy, emerge. Another 30 minutes later another one, a little girl was born. After this it was evident that Leia was very tired and unable to continue with labour any further. Due to this Dr. Tanya made the decision that a caesarean needed to be performed. We knew from a previous ultrasound performed that there were a minimum of 3 puppies.
It is important minimise the amount of time the mum is under anaesthetic. This puts as little strain as possible on her and her pups. Dr. Tanya, with the help of Nurse Rebecca, first placed Leia on intravenous fluids. They then clipped and did an initial scrub while Leia was still conscious. Once she was fully prepared, she was induced and rushed into the surgery. She was placed on a 'bair hugger' which is a forced air warming blanket. This helped us to maintain Leia's temperature during surgery. When patients are under anaesthesia they lose the ability to maintain their own body temperature. Rebecca then performed another clean on the surgical site while Dr. Tanya scrubbed for surgery.
In the meantime, Nurse Lindsay kept the first two puppies warm by placing them in a heated whelping box with additional heat packs. Additional heat packs were also on hand for when the other puppy or puppies were born.
Back in surgery Dr. Tanya began the procedure. It was all hands on deck and within minutes the first puppy was pulled from Leia. This was handed to Lindsay who proceeded to tear open the placenta, clamp off the umbilical cord and begin to gently, but vigorously rub the pup. Only seconds later Dr. Tanya pulled a second and then a third puppy from Leia and handed them off to other nurses. In total from the caesarean, two girls and a boy were born within a minute or so. All were stimulated and placed on heat packs and covered with blankets. This brought our count up to 5 healthy puppies for little Leia and proud father (although he didn't know it yet,) Chewie.
Dr. Tanya's focus was always on Leia and within a few more minutes she had stitched up her incision and begun to wake her up. In a surgery such as this there needs to be constant communication and coordination between the Veterinarian, nurse in charge of the anaesthetic and additional nursing staff. All in all, Leia and her pups had 5 staff members assist in her surgery.
Once Leia was awake she was placed in the whelping box along with her five puppies. The nurses assisted in getting the puppies to start suckling and eventually all of them were feeding. Leia was sent home that evening.
We were lucky enough to see Leia and her puppies again in early August. All 5 of them had grown in leaps and bounds and mum and pups looked great. We cannot wait to see them continue to grow! Well done to Leia for being a fantastic mum. And to her human mum, for countless sleepless nights!