Watching a dam give birth is an amazing experience. The first time anyone sees it, they are often hooked for life and want to experience it again and again. If the delivery goes easily and like clockwork, then it makes everyone eager to repeat the process. However, there are always deliveries that have oddities or complications and one of those is seeing a water sac but no puppy.
While it can be cause for concern, there are things that you should know about the water sac and the delivery of a puppy.
What is a Water Sac?
First, before we get into what to do when you see a water sac but no puppy, we should discuss what a water sac is. The water sac, also known as the amniotic sac, surrounds the fetal puppy in the womb.
Each puppy has its own amniotic sac and it is filled with amniotic fluid, the umbilical cord and the fetal side of the placenta. This sac keeps the puppy safe as he is developing.
When the puppy is born, the water sac looks like a shiny gray water balloon that is full with the amniotic fluid and the puppy.
When Do You See a Water Sac?
The only time that you should see a water sac is when the bitch is delivering her puppies. Generally, the water sac begins to push out of the vagina. This is where you see the gray surface of the sac. As the dam pushes, more of the sac is expelled from the body.
If it has not ruptured, you should see fluid filling the sac until a puppy starts to be pushed into it. If it is ruptured, you may see a gush of fluid, the water/amniotic fluids, and then a puppy.
Puppies can be born with the water sac intact or ruptured. If they are born in the sac, the mother dog, or breeder if she needs help, will rupture it and remove the sac from the puppies face. It is not uncommon for puppies to be born without the sac, or for it to burst as the mom is pushing. When it bursts, there is usually a straw color fluid that comes out.
Sac is Presenting But No Puppy: What to Do?
Now that we know how the water sac presents in a normal delivery; remembered a ruptured sac is perfectly normal as well, so don’t panic if a puppy is born without his sac, what happens if you see a water sac and no puppy.
First, is the amniotic sac completely delivered. If the answer is yes, we will go over that next. If it is not the case, then we have cause for concern.
As mentioned, the sac will often start to come out first. As mom pushes, more and more fluids fill the sac that is outside the body. Eventually, a puppy will slip into the sac and be pushed out of the vagina.
This process doesn’t take very much time. Often a few minutes for some bitches, although the average is between 10 to 30 minutes of pushing. The sac may go in and out a few times with pushing, coming out when the dam is straining and shrinking in size (going in slightly) when she stops straining.
However, if it takes longer than 30 minutes of active straining and you still only see the water sac but no puppy, you will need to contact your vet. This could mean that the puppy is stuck and the dam can’t get it out.
In this event, some vets will recommend that you check to see if there is a puppy stuck. To do this, you will need to wear surgical gloves and lubricate your fingers. Gently insert your finger beside the sac and feel around for the puppy. If you can, gently pull on the puppy with her contraction, as she pushes, to try to help the puppy out.
It is very important that you be extra careful while doing this. You can injure mom and the puppy easily and end up with an even bigger emergency.
If mom is not pushing and the water sac is hanging out of her with no puppy, you will be faced with the same emergency. Contact your vet and get her in with the vet immediately.
In these cases, the dam may be suffering from uterine inertia, which means her contractions have stalled or aren’t strong enough to push the puppies down and medical assistance will be required.
One thing I should end with is that if a dam has been pushing for 2 hours with nothing presenting, you should seek veterinarian assistance. If she has been pushing for 30 minutes to an hour with the sac present, you should also seek medical intervention. This is always a sign that something is wrong.
Water Sac Delivered Empty
As mentioned, one thing that can happen is that your dam will deliver an intact amniotic sac but it will be completely empty. This is not that uncommon and I think every breeder will see it at least once in their career.
Often, when a sac is delivered without a puppy in it, you will see a mass inside the sac. This is often a puppy that didn’t develop past a certain stage. It can be quite alarming and if you open it up, sometimes you can see an underdeveloped fetus in the sac.
There is no cause for alarm if you have one of these, but can always confirm with your vet to make sure that everything is okay with mom and puppies. Usually, the best option is to dispose of it like you would dispose of any other biological matter from the delivery.
Overall, when you see a water sac but no puppy, you only have to start worrying if mom is straining for a long period and no puppy comes out. If the delivery goes according to normal parameters, you should see the puppy in no time. Remember, if in doubt, contact your vet.