During my Theriogenology rotation, I got called in for an emergency at one in the morning on a Thursday evening. Emergencies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday tend to be more common than the other days of the week, so I was not surprised. In retrospect, I should have taken another night of the week as my on-call night! Regardless, there I was answering my phone at 1 in the morning in an incoherent slur of speech and somehow deciphering what the clinician had to say to me. I heard “C section” and something about a dog. Oh well, here we go!
I rolled into the clinic and headed straight for the emergency room. I found the patient quickly, as well as some of my classmates working the late night shift. The dog was on the exam table, standing, and seemingly stable despite supposedly being in labor for 12 hours. I inspected the dog, confirming that she was not in a very critical state other than being exhausted from her efforts. We suspected that one puppy was stuck in her pelvis and that was why she was unsuccessful in delivering her litter. I ultrasounded her abdomen and could find 2 of the puppies, but was unsure if there were more in there or if the ultrasound was simply revealing the same 2 puppies to me in different orientations. I checked their fetal heart rates and they were around 180, which is considered OK for fetuses. If they experience enough stress to negatively impact them, the heart rate will drop. This good news meant we might be getting some live puppies out of this surgery!
The surgery went by very quickly and resulted in 3 live puppies. We made an assembly line of people to collect the puppies as they were taken out of the dog. We then rubbed then and suctioned fluid out of their lungs and pharynxes so that they could start to take their first breaths. Within a few minutes, we had a few wriggling, screaming pups! We took the puppies to a warm container that is specifically made for keeping puppies at a good temperature that they like, like 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If they get too cold, they can be at risk for diseases like canine herpesvirus one. With the puppies safe and mom in the recovery room, I caught a few minutes of sleep before we would have to make sure each puppy started to nurse.