Fetal Heart Rate Doppler

Fetal Heart Rate Doppler

Ultrasound doppler equipment has been used in human medicine for over 20 years to confirm pregnancy and document the ongoing development and well-being of the fetus.  The ultrasound doppler can also be used in veterinary obstetrics to confirm pregnancy and monitor the developing fetuses in all small mammals.  Use of ultrasound to detect fetal heart rates in canine and feline reproduction is becoming standard of practice for both the veterinarian and breeder.

Fetal heart rates are detectable around 5 weeks of gestation using the hand-held Elite doppler in dogs and cats. The doppler detects the motion of the beating heart; translating the motion into an audible heart beat, and digitally displayed heart rate.  Using the doppler throughout gestation allows the veterinarian or breeder to confirm pregnancy, determine the number of fetuses in the litter, as well as document their continued survival.  Monitoring fetal heart rates during the Whelping or Queening process will allow the breeder or veterinarian to detect fetuses that are stressed by the labor and may not survive.

 Determining the number of fetuses in each pregnancy is accomplished by geographical identification of each individual fetal heart rate.  Litter size is established by systematic examination of each side of the abdomen using the doppler equipment to detect individual heart rates.  In order to facilitate ultrasound penetration, the lower abdominal area must be clipped to the skin to remove all hair.  The litter size can be determined with very good accuracy by adding up the number of fetal heart rates detected on each side of the abdomen for a total number of fetuses.  Using the doppler to determine litter size may eliminate the need to do a routine X-ray.  The use of X-ray can be used as a secondary level of evaluation.

 Is it possible to be incorrect on the litter size using the doppler? The answer is yes.  Is it possible to be wrong on a fetal count with an x-ray or visual ultrasound?  The answer is also yes.  Can you perform an x-ray or visual ultrasound in the home? Not likely in most cases!  The small, easy to use design of the doppler makes it perfect for home or clinic use.  Home use allows the breeder to monitor fetal heart rates during deliveries, confirming the number of fetuses detected during the pre-labor screen. 

 A second benefit of fetal heart rate monitoring during labor is documentation of fetal well-being.  Systematic fetal heart rate monitoring in most cases will alert the breeder or veterinarian to fetuses not likely to survive through delivery.  Fetuses that are under stress from labor have specific variations to the normal fetal heart rate.  These variances are easily identifiable by the novice ultrasound user.  Early identification of problems will allow the breeder or veterinarian the opportunity to intervene with either the appropriate medication or a cesarean section before puppies or kittens are lost.

Fetal Heart Rate Doppler:
Buy your own doppler! Can be used to confirm pregnancy, and detect heart rates throughout the pregnancy and whelping. Can even be used on newborns and adults to check heart rates. Know that your bitch is pregnant and have a very good idea of how many puppies are in your litter.



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Veterinary Perinatal Specialties Inc.
9111 W. 38th Ave
Wheat Ridge, Colorado 80033

within Colorado: 303-423-3429
toll free:1-888-281-4867