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Ultrasonographic analysis of fetal gastrointestinal motility during the peripartum period in the dog

Milani, Chiara, Artusi, Elisa, Drigo, Michele, Mateus, Luisa, Siena, Giulia, Gelli, Donatella, Falomo, Maria Elena, Romagnoli, Stefano
Animal reproduction science 2020 v.219 pp. 106514
abdomen, bitches, blood serum, body temperature, data collection, fetus, heart rate, parturition, peristalsis, pregnancy, progesterone, ultrasonography
The aim of this study was to investigate fetal gastrointestinal motility (FGM) of dogs using ultrasonic imaging and its association with vaginal and rectal temperature, serum progesterone concentrations and fetal heart rate. Pregnant bitches were examined after day 54 of gestation and there were determinations of vaginal and rectal temperature and serum progesterone concentrations. The fetal abdomen was evaluated for 30 s using longitudinal and transversal assessments, and FGM was scored as 0 (no peristalsis) or 1 (evident peristalsis). Number of fetuses with a 1 or 0 score were determined for each bitch (number and the percentage of fetuses with FGM). A total of 135 FGM measurements were recorded. There was FGM in 0/3, 0/6, 1/6 (16.7 %), 3/20 (15 %), 5/18 (27.3 %), 18/28 (64.3 %), 12/17 (70.6 %), 14/22 (63.6 %), 6/9 (66.7 %), 4/6 (66.7 %) fetuses from day -9 until 0 preceding parturition, respectively. In the last 5 days before parturition, 63.3 % of fetuses had FGM. Vaginal and rectal temperature were strongly and positively correlated (P < 0.001). Vaginal temperature was positively correlated with progesterone concentrations and fetal heart rate (P < 0.01), and there was a small negative correlation with FGM (r = −0.331, P < 0.05). Due to ease of data collection, the assessment of FGM is a valuable procedure for evaluation of fetal maturity in dogs. Vaginal and rectal temperatures are reliable variables to be assessed during the last week of pregnancy for estimating the time of parturition.