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Symptoms & Signs of Abortion in Dogs


Identifying the symptoms and signs of Abortion in dogs is the first step to knowing if your dog requires medical attention. Diseases and symptoms can vary, so it’s always best to consult your veterinarian if you notice any of the following symptoms.

Effects of Abortion – From The Dog’s Point of View

Abortions are not all that common in companion dogs. When they do happen, abortions usually occur during the last few weeks of the bitch’s pregnancy, although they certainly can occur earlier. Fastidious bitches may actually eat any placental or fetal tissues that they expel as part of their normal hygienic activities, especially if the abortion happens early in their pregnancy when those tissues are undifferentiated. This can make early abortions extremely difficult for owners to detect. Bitches understandably may become lethargic and depressed after aborting their puppies. They will need lots of extra time, attention and love from their owners to get them through this traumatic experience.

Symptoms of Abortion – What The Owner Sees

The signs of abortion can be difficult for even the most attentive of owners to detect. Usually, there is nothing obvious in the house or yard to suggest that an abortion has happened. Bitches often lick and swallow the aborted placental and fetal tissues as part of their normal grooming, especially when the abortion occurs early in their pregnancy. A more common reproductive abnormality in domestic dogs is reabsorption of puppies, where the bitch’s body actually absorbs the fetal and placental tissue, leaving no sign that puppies ever were present. Reabsorption can happen even after a pregnancy has been confirmed by an abdominal ultrasound and/or by radiography (X-rays). When puppies are reabsorbed, they literally just disappear. No fetuses or fetal or placental tissues are ever expelled through the birth canal.

Sometimes, owners do see signs of an abortion that has happened to their pregnant bitch. Recognizable signs of abortion may include one or more of the following:
  • Failure to whelp on time (the average gestation period in dogs is 63 days, although puppies can be born 5 or more days before or after that period)
  • Vaginal discharge – usually profuse with an abortion; dark greenish to black; thick; purulent (containing pus); sometimes may be thin and bloody
  • Strong foul odor coming from the vulva
  • Loss of appetite (inappetence; anorexia)
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Restlessness; listlessness; general malaise
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Delivery of lifeless puppies
  • Passage of dark, bloody placental and/or fetal tissue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Behavioral changes
  • Dogs at Increased Risk
Malnourished females have a greatly increased risk of aborting their puppies, as do elderly bitches and those that have some sort of systemic illness or disease. Pregnant females with internal or external parasitic infestations also have an increased chance of aborting their litters.
Special NotesWhile abortions are relatively rare in domestic dogs, they can go unnoticed by even the most attentive of owners. However, the bitch will still suffer the emotional and physical consequences of what she has gone through and will need lots of love and attention to restore her confidence and happiness in life.
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