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Canine Dystocia data from UK emergency vet practices

O'Neill et al have published an open access paper on the risks of canine dystocia (difficulty giving birth) and how it is managed. The source data is from 50 VetsNow emergency clinics in the UK, covering 701 bitches. The reported prevalence of dystocia in an emergency caseload was just under 4%.

The most common reasons for dystocia were fetal malposition (35%) and fetal-maternal disproportion (31%). For bitches that had previously been bred from, 39% had previously had either dystocia or a CS.

Our own DachsLife 2018 survey found dystocia rates between 1% and 6% for the different Dachshund varieties. A previous VetCompass study found Miniature Dachshunds to be 8 times more likely to have dystocia than the base-comparison crossbred bitches. There was no data on Standard Dachshunds in that paper.

Caesarean sections (CS) were performed in 341 cases (49%). The study included 12 Miniature Dachshunds, of which half had caesarean sections. This rate of CS was not statistically significantly different from the base rate found in crossbred bitches (45%). Nearly one third of bitches that had a CS were also spayed at the same time. None of the CS were reported as "elective", suggesting they were done as a response to a perceived problem during whelping. Kennel Club data in our Breed Health and Conservation Plan on CS reported to the KC by vets showed rates between 3% and 42% across the 6 Dachshund varieties. These include elective and non-elective CS.

Oxytocin was administered to 54% of dystocic bitches and calcium gluconate was given to 12% of cases. A third of bitches given oxytocin subsequently had a CS. Just under 2% of bitches died while under emergerncy care. Shockingly, 5 out of 8 bitches that were euthanised, had this done because the owner was concerned about the cost of a caesarean section. Those bitches covered by insurance were 2.5 times more likely to have a CS than those that were uninsured.

73% of bitches completed their puppy delivery at the emergency vet practice, 23% returned home to continue whelping and 4% were kept in for continued clinical management.

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