**The following post was written by Myra Savant Harris, and she has provided permission to cross-post. She is the author of some great breeding/whelping/puppy rearing handbooks! Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org for any follow-up questions.
I thought it was quite informative and wanted to share. If you have any stories about whelping experiences, including decisions to section or not, or if you don’t agree with what she says it would be great to share so others can learn!**
GREEN DISCHARGE IN A PREGNANT BITCH
I’ve been noticing some posts lately about the green discharge that is common with whelping. I know I’ve written other documents about it and covered it in a book as far back as 2003 but still the rumors about what it is….and what it isn’t persist. So, I’ll put this down in writing and I’m going to hope that you’ll be able to print it off and keep it with your other whelping information.
Your puppies are each encased in little individual sacs of amniotic fluid. Each of them has a placenta that they wear around their mid section like a tight, wide belt. It looks like a donut once you dissect it but surprisingly tight around their mid sections, over their umbilical cord site. The interior of that placenta is a murky shade of dark green. The exterior is quite red. We rarely see the interior of the placenta; the part that is right next to the puppy because when the placentas come out they are encased in the tissues from the amniotic tissue and are kind of like an inside out latex glove that you have stripped off from your hand.
That little amniotic sac has two layers. The first layer breaks first and releases a green tinged fluid that is kind of liquid and also kind of mucus like. At this point, you would see a little green tinged fluid or a green tinged bubble of fluid at the vulva. Not a big deal. Your puppy is still encased in the second amniotic sac and safe and sound. The green color is only from the interior portion of the placenta. As labor progresses, the puppies, who are ready now to be born will come out of that outer sacks and the green discharge will be there. Green is not meconium. Green is not a sign of fetal distress. Green is nothing but the color of the portion of the placenta that is next to the puppy’s skin. IT MEANS NOTHING. It can be dark enough to dye a white puppy green for several days.
In the human, meconium (contents of the large intestine) is green and it signals potential problems for the human baby because it means that at some point in the gestation…maybe frequently during the gestation, that baby has gone in to a coma-like state; not fallen asleep but much more ominous than that. So in a HUMAN delivery, we have to worry about two things when we see green: 1) Will the baby inhale it immediately after birth when it cries (it is filled with bacteria and solid matter) and 2) What the heck has been going on with that baby’s brain/neurological system to make it lapse into coma?
In a canine delivery, the color you would need to make note of is MUSTARD YELLOW, usually in the amniotic fluid itself and thick. This is meconium. This is a very good and reliable sign that the puppy may well not make it. When you see thick mustard yellow in the amniotic fluid the chance that this puppy will live past a few days is small and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it. A section would certainly do nothing. The problem is of long standing. Green is normal in the canine delivery and means…. your bitch is whelping, and mustard yellow is meconium but by the time you see the yellow, you are already weeks late in helping that baby.
It is really, really important that you realize that a decreased heart rate in a puppy….actually has no real meaning unless it is very low and very sustained. Lowered fetal heart rates are actually a part of the delivery process and, unless you know exactly how to coordinate the decreased heart rate in conjunction with the timing of the contraction….in other words, you know when the heart rate lowers in conjunction with the contraction…the information is useless to you. You would never, ever want to do a section on a mom based solely on a temp drop, a decreased heart rate or green discharge. NEVER EVER. Why? Because those signs (particularly the temp drop which is worse than useless) do not by themselves have any particularly meaning. Ever. Many things cause decreased heart rate in a neonate. Head compression, cord compression, placenta compression….none of which spells Emergency.
If you can once and for all accept that green discharge is nothing but a sign of whelping you will be more relaxed. If you learn that there is no need to run to the vet because you saw green discharge you will avoid a lot of sections. AND if those of you who start recommending running off in a panic to see a vet because of a green bubble or green discharge will encourage instead a systematic assessment of the bitch, we’ll all rest easier.
Edited to add: If you see discharge even up to 5-6 days prior to the delivery, the chances are very good that you have a dead puppy, or an impending premature delivery of the litter. Sometimes with the dead puppy, moms just dilates enough to pass the dead puppy and then goes on to hold on to the rest of her litter until closer to due date and other times, mom will proceed to delivery the entire litter because her body dictated that it was time for her to deliver the dead puppy and once she starts… she keeps on delivering the rest even if they are premature.