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Date:   14 February, 2010  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pig & rabbits.

Toa Payoh Vets Clinical Research
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OXYTOCIN INJECTION AND WAIT OR CAESAREAN SECTION?
UTERINE INERTIA IN A MINIATURE SCHNAUZER
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written:
14 February, 2010

 
If the female dog can't give birth naturally, give an injection of oxytocin and see what happens.  This is fine in theory and in lectures.

In private practice, the owner wants a good outcome when he brings in a barrel-shaped Miniature Schnauzer that had difficulty in giving birth to the vet for Caesarean section. With a fully distended abdomen, the Schnauzer is likely to have 5 or 6 puppies. In this case, an X-ray by a vet said 4 puppies but the owner did not bring the X-ray.

Now, what the owner wants is that he gets all puppies alive and ensure that the dam is safe. Oxytocin may or may not work.

If it does not work, there is a long delay which may result in a dead pup or two. If it works, the first pup may be delivered but not every of the 5 pups. A Caesarean section will still be needed and one of the pups may have died in the interim period. 

Therefore, in theory, your lecturer advises oxytocin injection to wait and see. Oxytocin does work in some cases but you have to wait. Assuming that the first pup is born 30 minutes after the oxytocin injection, it does not mean that the second pup will follow. If the second pup is born naturally, the 3rd pup may be too big to follow or the dam may be too weak to contract. A few hours will have passed by. The remaining pups go into distress as the dam stops contracting due to uterine inertia.

When an elective Caesarean section is performed by then, one pup may have died. So what? As a vet, you have nothing to lose but your reputation. Some vets don't care about their reputation because deaths are part and parcel of veterinary practice.     

In this particular case, at the 6lst day of pregnancy and rectal temperature of 37.1 deg C, I would do an elective Caesarean section. No mucking around with oxytocin to wait and see. It was obvious from the barrel-shaped abdomen that the dam had large pups (X-ray by the owner's first vet said 4 pups).

This case was not my case and therefore the judgment to wait after oxytocin injection or do a Caesarean section would be the other vet's judgment. I was an observer. It was Chinese New Year's Eve and my day off as it was also a Saturday. A blue sky, white clouds sunny day that meant doing other things to give myself a break from the daily work. 

I did not have a car and taxis would be hard to flag down since most people in Singapore seemed to have closed in the afternoon. The vet in charge decided on a Caesarean section. It was such a bright sunshine afternoon and the lighting would be excellent for beautiful puppy photography. So, I hitched a motor bike ride from Mr Goose to transport me to the other vet practice so that I could take some good pictures of new born puppies. I love taking pictures of neonate puppies. They represent new life.

For the past 20 years, I had never had to ride a bike. I may be a senior citizen but I am still kicking and alive. So I rode pillion behind Mr Goose who is a careful man. His small red bike chugged along as if groaning under my weight. His bike is similar to the ones I show in the picture below. Nothing fanciful as a BMW or Harley Davidson motorcycle.
 

I put my hands on his shoulders in case I fell off. I hoped for the best. Bike accidents are common in Singapore as motorcycles collide into other vehicles or vice versa. Here I was taking a calculated risk that no other cars would bang me from the side or behind.

Mr Goose had one or two minor accidents in the past 10 years and that was considered an excellent safety record. So, I trusted him. So, I had to strain my right hip to get onto the back seat. My backpack with my camera took up some space and so we went down the expressway. Cars whizzed by. I kept my fingers crossed and onto the shoulders of Mr Goose. I tried to maintain an upright posture as he swerved and turn to reach the practice. 

The wind from Mr Groove's helmet whistled into my helmeted ears. The afternoon sky was blue. White cotton clouds dotted the sky and bright sunshine radiated downwards as I enjoyed the fresh breeze. Fortunately, it was not a rainy day and we arrived safely.

All 5 puppies were delivered by Caesarean section by the vet. I took a few pictures. This was a day full of happy memories for of a Chinese New Year's Eve on a very rare instance when I got onto a motor bike.

Births of new pups are always wonderful. New born pups are hard to photograph.  The evening sunshine was what I wanted to get a good picture. Now it was up to my expertise to produce some for readers. I did not have to use Photoshop to touch up. There were some of my favourite pictures. I hope the readers enjoy them and wish all a Happy Chinese New Year 2010. 

I am quite sure that the family of 5 Miniature Schnauzer pups must be having a very happy New Year too. I don't know them nor did I meet them as this was not my case.  Senior citizens do not need to behave and walk as if they have one foot in the grave. Be alive. Think alive. Old age does not mean impending death. Live life as if every day is our last day on earth. We are not youthful but we should feel brand new and share our experiences with the young ones.  Today is Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day. I hope you have a good holiday.

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