• English Bulldog Breeding - Chapter 7: Choosing the Right Veterinarian

    I really wish that my mentors would have told me more about choosing the right veterinarian. Please read my story below so you can interview your vet properly to see if they are properly trained in giving the correct amount of anesthesia during a c-section. As you read my story below, you will understand more why I have composed this particular list of questions for you to use when you interview vets for the c-section procedure.

    Remember, your mamma, or dam, as well as her pups, are in the hands of this person. You should be able to trust them 100% with the life of your bulldog and her offspring. You have come this far, so it is up to you to find a fantastic vet to be the backbone of your litter.

    1.) How many English Bulldog clients does the vet have? (you should be looking for any term meaning a lot, a response such as "they have bulldog clients" is not acceptable)

    2.) Will you be able to view the pups being born? (Most fancy vets hospitals won't, so look for private practices. Not all people can watch but knowing they allow you to is good)

    3.) What type of anesthesia do they use? (Gas down induction with isoflourane)

    4.) How many successful c-sections has the vet performed? (50+) would be nice.

    5.) What was the live birth/surviving puppy percentage? (80% or higher)

    Our very first litter was a disaster. My heart shattered into pieces, and to this day I can remember almost each moment. This is why knowing more about the c-section and the best protocols is something you must know as a breeder, because your vet is going to be at least half or more of the reason you will be a great breeder in the future. Ever great breeder has an outstanding veterinarian!

    I did have a great veterinarian when I started breeding. He was a renowned vet in the field, and always gave my pets the best. I trusted him. His vet hospital was fancy and many times he even cut our bill when we were on hard times. I had been his client for 10 years. However on the week Molly was due he was going to be out of town in Las Vegas for a huge Veterinarian convention. He was also one of the speakers so he told me he was leaving us in good hands with another vet at the office.

    I was getting ancy and impatient, I was sure Molly was in labor. She did have a big gooey discharge. However she was not pushing or in contracting. I did not realize it then but with experience comes knowledge, and my lack of experience and my thirst of anticipation made me make poor choices that day.

    The backup doctor was not working this day either. However, another young veterinarian was eager to help us. We will call her Vet #3 for the sake of explaining the rest of our story.

    We should have waited. Molly was not contracting yet, but she was very close to her due date, and since we lived an hour away we didn't want to drive all the way home just to turn around.

    Vet #3 wanted to do the c section. She was eager and pretty much talked us into going ahead with the procedure that day. Never did I question her experience performing a c-section. I just figured all vets who say they can do it are trained to do it. Except for my concern with her surgical experience with bulldogs (I did know that risk), she assured me she had done several surgeries on English Bulldogs and knew what she was doing.

    It took 40 minutes for them to prep her before they called us back to watch through a glass window. Then the nightmare began. There was about 8 technicians, all wearing their hair nets, robes and gloves, the whole set up was beyond clean and professional.

    Vet #3 and her assistant worked slowly to remove the puppies and the placental sacks from each puppy. There were several vet techs on hand waiting to revive the puppies. There was one tech watching over and observing Molly. Dr. G first removed the horns from Molly and laid them out carefully. I remember watching this and thinking to myself “boy she really is doing a good job at being careful, and taking her time to not hurt the puppies coming out”. I was indeed, impressed. I cannot remember if it was in between puppies 1-2, 2-3 or 3-4 but she spent a lot of time somewhere in there. It seemed to take a very long time to remove each puppy. The vet tech was attending to a puppy for a couple of minutes before even getting ready with a towel to get the next puppy. And then when she had towel in hand, she continued to wait. I cannot say exactly how much time, but I would guess it was around 5 minutes or more between the removal of each puppy.

    We were so excited, the moment we had waited 16 years for had arrived, and it was not 4 puppies, (which is what we saw on the ultrasound) but it was seven! We were in tears of joy. We had wanted to breed a litter of English Bulldogs since we got our first one right after we were married. We never had one healthy enough to breed, so we always had them spayed until we got Molly, who has never had any health issues.

    The vet techs were still working on the puppies and we did not hear any crying. Then no one was looking us in the eye. You begin to know something is not right, but then I am an optimist so I would not even let my mind go that way. One of the techs brought us out 1 of the puppies, and said “I know you really want to see one of them.” It was a darling little girl. We gave her back to the tech so she could get into the warm box. Shortly after that we heard “Eight?!” and cheering. We did not understand.

    Time had gone to about 45 mins to an hour now since we walked back there, and Molly’s uterus was still being cleaned and laying on top of her body. The vet tech brought out the box with our two puppies, as they did finally get another one revived. This was the first and second born. She told us that the other puppies were having a hard time breathing due to too much anesthesia, and this was common in bulldogs. She then told us not too worry, they were still working on them.

    We were then distracted a little of course by our two puppies. I think this is probably when puppy #8 came out. I counted seven, the vet's assistant told us seven (she held up seven fingers in the air and then made the “stop” “no more” or “done” command, but somehow or another we ended up with two white puppies in the end. Something was being hidden and we knew it, and my husband and I even looked at each other saying “was there 7 or 8 puppies?”

    Finally, an hour and half later give or take, the assistant comes out while they are finishing Molly and informs us that the rest of the puppies died. They all had heartbeats when they were born but they could not revive them. She then asked us if the male we bred Molly with had any genetic problems.

    This offended us, and especially my husband, because it seemed like an accusation that “genetics” was to blame for the death of our puppies. We were already wise to anesthesia poisoning that the other vet tech had pointed out at this point, so to have her come out and point fingers was just absolutely unjustified. It was a way to place the blame of the dead puppies on us, not them.

    We informed her that he was of Ch. Bloodlines and we paid $1500 to use him, and he was already a proven father with pups. She then asked if we wanted to have the puppies cremated or disposed of. I told her that I wanted to see them. She brought them out to us, and I said a prayer over their little tiny souls, as they were so beautiful and they looked so healthy! I could not believe this was happening. I told her that I wanted to take them home and give them a proper burial.

    It was now time to tend to Molly. They told us we would be there for a while, so I told my husband to go get us something to eat. We had not eaten all day and when I get upset I want to eat, even though I do not eat very much of it, it is just something to calm me. I went and sat by Molly in the holding cage. They put out blankets for her. I was starting to worry about the puppies because they were not on a heating pad, they just had a lamp on them. I remember taking one of them out to hold them with my warm hands and the tech suggested I put her in my shirt. I pet molly and waited for her to wake up. They took her tube out. Vet #3 came out to talk to me and told me she was sorry. She did not know why they died. “This sometimes just happens with bulldogs” was all I heard from her and her vet tech.

    Molly did not come out of anesthesia well. We were there with her for about 4-5 hours, they would not discharge us from the facility. I think they were trying to get in contact with someone to find out what to do. Finally they let us go home and my witch hunt began. For the next weeks while I was raising the two baby puppies, I could not think straight, I cried and cried. I called every vet from coast to coast, talked with 10 different breeders. They all said the same thing. Too much anesthesia.

    Eventually the admin of the hospital watched the video and the time frame it took compared to some c-section videos on YouTube, where all puppies were delivered in about 10 minutes. Also that Molly was anesthetized for 19 minutes before they even started the operation, so the puppies were already to drugged to wake up. Except for the first two born, who had 5-10 minutes less anesthesia than the rest.

    My heart was so broken, and of course I fell in love with our two puppies, Yuna and Tidus. This is when I met my vet. I spoke with him and he told me that he had delivered hundreds of bulldog puppies, and that Propofol is a lung depressant, so he only uses Isoflurane and a little bit of sedative, and masks the mom down so that the puppies get as little anesthesia as possible. Eventually we kept both Yuna and Tidus, our miracle babies. They were very lucky to survive.

    I have seen this same story happen to other people on social media. They also had too much anesthesia or the wrong kind.

    Another time my vet was not available- we had to go to Banfield vets, and they did the exact same thing. He got the puppies out quickly, but I am not sure how long the mom was out beforehand, and he did also use Propofol. They called me in for help as they were understaffed and I told them I had experience. Three pups were born, blood was everywhere Puppies were dying in my hands- they would not wake up. It was horrifying. We did revive 3 after much time (30+ minutes at least), but I am sure they were gone at one point. Very lucky to have survived. Only two were lost in the end, but it shouldn't have been that way. They died do to too much anesthesia. To make it worse, my mamma and her puppies were so drugged when we got home that we could not even feed them from her, they would not wake up and eat for 8 hours, plus her milk was likely tainted. I slept next to her because she was so out of it, drool was pouring out of her mouth for 24 hours. Finally we were able to start feeding the pups on their mom the NEXT DAY!

    Bottom Line: Only isoflurane (gas) anesethia for c-section deliveries. If the vet your are interviewing does it any other way, find a different vet. They may need to use something to help calm down your mom a little, that is okay- just make sure they do not use propofol as an induction. Since using propofol is a standard protocol for c-sections in all veterinary medicine, you will find it is hard to find a vet who doesn't use it.

    Here is a video of a c-section from the very start. As you can see my new vet is swift and careful, and the first puppy is born in 10 minutes from the time the mom is put under, compared to 30-40 from the first c-section.

    We have had litters up to 9 puppies, and ever since I chose Doctor Ferguson, we have brought them all home. I have also included some video of baby Yuna and Tidus

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