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Pregnancy Termination for Dogs

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    History

    • In the past, there were few options available to dog owners who found themselves wishing to abort their female's pregnancy. The choices were allowing her to continue with the pregnancy, spaying, or the administration of a drug called estradiol cypionate.

      Estradiol cypionate is a type of synthetic estrogen that has a longer life within the body than naturally occurring estrogen. Estradiol cypionate causes many complications when used in dogs. These complications can include pyometra, a life-threatening infection of the uterus, and aplastic anemia, or a condition affecting bone marrow's ability to produce new blood cells to replace old ones. Because of the risks involved, estradiol cypionate is rarely, if ever, used anymore in the termination of canine pregnancies.

    Considerations

    • It is important to speak to your veterinarian first to determine whether or not your dog is actually pregnant. Nearly half of all bitches seen for pregnancy termination are not pregnant. Confirming the pregnancy early allows you and your dog's veterinarian to discuss options, avoid needless treatment and minimize the risks that are associated with terminating an advanced pregnancy.

      When undergoing the process of mismating, especially when the bitch is in an advanced stage of pregnancy, you may observe the discharge of the fetuses as well as their byproducts.

    Pharmaceutical Termination

    • Prostaglandins are the modern choice of pharmaceutical for use in canine abortions. Prostaglandins are synthetic hormones that are administered to the dog by subcutaneous injection. Multiple doses of the drug are given to the dog over a period of five to seven days. This hormone stimulates contractions of the uterus and causes the mother to expel the products of conception.

      Common side effects of prostaglandin treatment include vomiting, diarrhea and excessive urination. While uncommon, cardiovascular collapse is a side effect of prostaglandin treatment. Thus an IV tube is inserted in the initial phases of treatment in case fluid therapy or other drugs are necessary.

    Ergot-Derived Pharmaceuticals

    • Cabergoline, or a similar drug such as bromocriptine, is also used to pharmaceutically terminate canine pregnancies. These drugs, which are derived from the ergot family of fungi, allow the naturally occurring chemical dopamine to be produced in large quantities. This results in a decline of the hormone progesterone, which in turn will lead to a loss of pregnancy. These drugs are generally considered to have few side effects; however, stomach upset and vomiting are possible.

    Prevention and Surgical Termination

    • The only sure method of eliminating the chance of an unwanted pregnancy in a dog is to have her spayed. Spaying, or the removal of the ovaries and/or uterus, will ensure that a dog cannot be bred. This is a common surgery that carries few risks to the animal, and may offer some health benefits as the animal grows older. Spaying is the only surgical option to discontinue an unwanted pregnancy.

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