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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Evaluation of Canine Neonatal Health by Breeders: A Prospective Questionnaire Study on the Association between Neonatal Scores (Modified APGAR), Parturition, Birth Weight, Growth, and Puppy Mortality

Axner, Eva; Axelsson, Rebecca; Hermansson, Ulrika

Abstract

Simple Summary Puppy mortality is a widespread problem in small animal medicine. Apgar scoring, adapted for puppies performed by trained veterinary staff, was previously shown to be useful in identifying newborn puppies with an increased risk of mortality. The majority of puppies, however, are born in a home or kennel environment. In most whelpings, early evaluations and interventions are performed by the breeder. Therefore, we wanted to evaluate if a modified Apgar protocol for neonatal monitoring would be usable by breeders in a home environment. Our aim was to evaluate potential associations between neonatal scores, delivery times, birth weights, growth rates, and puppy mortality. Twenty-one bitches gave birth to 113 puppies by vaginal delivery. Neonatal scores were related to puppy mortality. Puppies with low neonatal scores had a longer expulsion interval and lower viability. Mortality was higher in puppies with a low relative birthweight. Puppies with a negative growth rate the first two days after parturition did not have a significantly higher risk of mortality in this study. Our results indicate that a modified and simplified neonatal scoring, performed by breeders approximately 5 min after birth, could be useful to identify puppies at risk of mortality.Abstract Mortality of neonatal puppies is a widespread problem in small animal medicine. Neonatal monitoring, according to standardized protocols, can be useful for identifying puppies that are at risk of mortality. Prompt intervention on weak puppies could increase survival rates. Apgar scoring adapted for puppies has been demonstrated to be associated with mortality and is usually performed by trained veterinary staff. The majority of puppies, however, are born in a home or kennel environment and not at a veterinary clinic. Our aims were, therefore, to evaluate if a modified protocol for neonatal monitoring would be usable by breeders in a home environment. We wanted to evaluate potential associations between modified Apgar scores, birth weights, delivery times, growth rates, and puppy mortality. Modified Apgar scores were related to the viability of live-born puppies (p < 0.0013). The viability and expulsion time of each puppy were significantly related (p = 0.010 with all puppies included and p = 0.038 with only live-born puppies included). Viability was significantly related to relative birthweight (p < 0.01). Puppies with a negative growth rate the first two days after parturition did not have a significantly higher risk of mortality. In conclusion, a modified and simplified Apgar scoring performed by breeders approximately 5 min after birth was associated with puppy mortality.

Keywords

Apgar; dog; inter-pup interval; neonatal; reproduction

Published in

Animals
2023, Volume: 13, number: 23, article number: 3605
Publisher: MDPI