How Dystocia is Diagnosed
When presented with a pregnant bitch who is in labor but is obviously having a difficult time delivering her puppies, the veterinarian will quickly take a thorough reproductive history from the owner, including the dates that the bitch was bred, a history of her past litters and deliveries (if any), a general medical history and whether any ovulation timing was performed prior to mating. A prompt physical examination may be unremarkable or may reveal symptoms such as restlessness, fatigue, muscle tremors or other signs of visible distress. A blood sample will probably be drawn and evaluated for circulating levels of glucose, electrolytes, protein and ionized calcium.
The veterinary team will assess whether the bitch is properly hydrated and whether she is anemic. Anemia is a reduction below normal in the number of circulating red blood cells or in the quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. Abdominal ultrasound and/or radiographs (X-rays) may be taken to assess the viability of the puppies, litter size and the size and position of the puppies inside the uterus and birth canal.
More advanced diagnostic techniques include monitoring the strength and frequency of uterine contractions using specialized medical instruments.