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Retained Afterbirth in Dogs

Retained Placenta in Dogs

In dogs, a situation known as retained placenta, or retained afterbirth, arises when the placenta, the sac enveloping an unborn puppy, fails to be expelled from the mother’s uterus along with the puppy.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of retained placenta in dogs may include:

  • Green discharge from the vulva that persists
  • Fever (present in some cases)
  • Systemic disease (observed in some cases)


Retained placenta in dogs occurs when the placenta remains in the uterus instead of being expelled during or shortly after the birth of the puppy.


A diagnosis of retained placenta in dogs is often supported by a recent history of birth along with physical examination findings such as green discharge from the vulva. Your veterinarian might suggest routine blood tests, although these results could appear normal. Vaginal cytology might also be advised. X-rays and/or ultrasound of the uterus may be necessary. In certain instances, exploratory surgery might be required.


To address retained placenta in dogs, oxytocin might be administered to help expel the retained placenta, with calcium gluconate possibly given beforehand. If medical intervention using oxytocin proves ineffective, surgery may be required to remove the retained placenta from the uterus. In cases where breeding is not planned, ovariohysterectomy (spaying) might be recommended. Additionally, if the placenta is not expelled or removed, acute metritis (uterine inflammation) may develop and require treatment.

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