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Whelping is the process of giving birth to puppies. Generally, the bitch (female breeding dog) is capable of giving birth on her own without any difficulty.
Breeding dogs is a time consuming, expensive, messy, and sometimes heartbreaking process! If the dog is showing the signs of pregnancy, then it is essential to know both the puppy’s due date and litter size.
Just like for humans, An ultrasound can give a clear picture of litter size; you’ll know of any problems about to arise before the birth of the young pups.
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As mentioned above, breeding is an expensive procedure along with the possibility of some problems like either a cesarean birth, difficulty accepting the puppies, or the puppies need to be nursed by hand, etc.
Female dogs seem to ‘get stuck’ between their instinctive behavior toward their puppies and the routine involved with human owners. This can result in several issues and should be considered before mating the female dog. Raising pups is also a time-consuming process and should be embarked upon with due considerations.
The process of giving birth to the puppies is known as whelping. Generally, the whelping mother is capable of giving birth on her own without any difficulty. Nevertheless, there certainly are times when you MUST intervene in the whelping process!
There are three different stages of whelping! So pay attention if this is your first litter so you can know what stage of whelping your dog is in so you can help her best!
There are 3 stages of whelping that you need to know about!
The first stage is when the uterus begins to contract and cause the cervix to dilate. Stage one can last 6 to 12 hours in the dog. Signs that you may see in the female are restlessness, panting, pacing, or “nesting” type behavior.
The bitch will become restless and will try to find a place to give birth to the puppies. This is where a Whelping Box Comes into Play!!! Also remember, that if this is your female’s First Litter, she most likely will be more freaked out! YOU BOTH NEED TO RELAX!
The body temperature of the female dog will go down from the normal a day before whelping. Therefore, it is crucial to check the temperature of the dog at regular intervals, several times a day to keep things under control.
Stages two and three alternate in the dog. Stage two is the passage of the puppy. Stage 3 is the passage of both fetal membranes and placenta. Because dogs typically have multiple puppies, the membranes from the preceding puppy are usually passed prior to the next puppy. Believe it or not, it’s common for the female dog to ingest the placentas and membranes!
Now with that being said, there is a chance that a pup will come out still in the Placentia sac! It’s not that uncommon. Normally, the sack is broken in the birthing process. Usually, if the pup is born and still in the sac, the mother will eat it off of the pup, but your pup is facing a dire emergency if the mother doesn’t do this for you.
YOU MUST REMOVE IT YOURSELF !!!
After whelping, check each puppy to make sure it is moving and breathing. You may have to help the puppies “latch on” to get the first nursing done. Also, make sure to have fresh food and water available for the dam at all times.
A green to reddish-brown discharge from the female dog is normal up to three weeks, until and unless no foul smell comes from the release.
The relaxed behavior of the bitch will let you know whelping is over and she will rest along with her puppies. The bitch will nurse the puppies when the labor is over.
However, it is necessary to check that all the pups get nursed immediately after being suctioned and cleaned. If a c-section has been done, try to get the pups suckling as soon as mom is in recovery. The first milk is known as colostrum and is very vital for the puppies in providing them immunity against several diseases.
It is vital to check the puppies regularly to make sure that they are suckling and are warm and satisfied. If the puppy is crying or feeling cold, then the puppy should be kept on the inguinal teats (THE TEATS CLOSEST TO YOUR PUPS REAR LEGS) and then get the keen observation regularly.
Warming the puppies is very important, but special care is necessary while using heating lamps or heating pads.
Heating pads like the “Whitney Pet Heating Pad” are an awesome way to help your pups warm when they are in the “Puppy Bin”.
BUT, you have to cover the pad!! I take a blanket and wrap the pad to ENSURE the puppies don’t come into direct contact with the pad it’s self (EVEN IF THE PAD HAS A COVER!)
I also recommend leaving about half the bin unheated so that way the pup will move if it gets too hot (which has advert side effects we try to avoid like constipation and dehydration)
Heat lamps are another way to keep the pups warm, but just like heating pads, YOU MUST TAKE SPECIAL CARE, AND SET UP PROPERLY.
We Mostly use our heat lamps in the whelping box rather than heating pads during the warmer months! The placement of the heat lamp is very important! You don’t want it too close to the floor (can quickly overheat that section of flooring or just be too hot for the pups), but you also don’t want it too far away because then it would merely turn into a light source.
Depending on the height of the whelping box, you may be able to just attach the light to the side of it, or you may have to attach to a wall or get a stand.
Whichever position you choose, Use your hand and check the area of coverage to ensure it not too cold or too hot!
AND PLEASE KEEP THE CORD OUT OF REACH!
Inspection of the mammary glands of the bitch is critical to observe the presence of milk, any kind of abnormal swelling, redness, or pain which could mean she has mastitis!
Weighing puppies is mandatory at birth and after that. The puppies may lose some weight on day one; however, will gain weight after that and will double their body weight after 10-14 days, some breeds will double their weight in the first week.
Providing high-quality food to the dog is very important especially during the gestation period. Alter the diet of the dog to the high-quality puppy food before the dog gets mated keep the dog on this food throughout pregnancy and lactation.
The food intake of the dog shouldn’t be altered during two-thirds of the pregnancy. If high-quality food is there for the dog, then no minerals or vitamins supplements are required to add in the dog’s diet. However, many vets and breeders recommend a prenatal vitamin. Our choice is Oxy Mate by Breeder’s Edge.
Food intake should increase after pregnancy 6th week by increasing small meals frequently. The food intake will increase 1.5 times as compared to the average level and it increases 2.5-3 times after whelping especially if the dog has a large litter.
The delicate process of having a litter of puppies can sometimes turn into a stressful condition if the mom rejects one or all the puppies after whelping. Apart from rejecting, the mother may try to kill the pups sometimes as well. There are several reasons due to which the mother either refuses or even kill her puppies.
These reasons are: –
It is essential to be conscious of the changes in the demeanor and health of the dogs, especially when there is a mother dog with the litter of pups. Any condition that can affect the ability of the puppies to drink the milk is fatal for them if not treated.
Mastitis is an uncommon (more common in some breeds) condition in dogs as compared to the other livestock animals like cows, goats, sheep, etc. Mastitis is more in the female dogs that are nursing the young ones. However, there are some chances that it occurs in the female that are not mated. It is harrowing conditions, and proper treatment must be applied to get rid of this condition.
It is very important to check the mammary gland of the nursing mother dog one to two times a day to monitor the signs of any changes in the mammary gland. This checking of the mammary gland will allow you to catch the mastitis in the early stages; otherwise, it will be a significant concern for the mom, puppies, and the owner.
· Express the mammary glands twice daily to monitor the milk quality.
· Note any alteration in the texture of the mammary glands or teats
· Feel the temperature of the mammary gland, i.e. either they are hot or cold
· Note the sensitivity of the mammary glands, i.e. reaction of the bitch upon touching
· The mammary glands may become discolored in mastitis so note the color of the mammary glands.
· Teats of the mother dog will become red and inflamed.
· Ulcers may develop in the later stage of mastitis, so observe the teats regularly.
· Observe any secretion of pus or blood along with the milk as it is one of the indications of mastitis in dogs.
Treatment of mastitis depends on the severity of the disease. The vet will recommend the usage of antibiotics along with the application of warm compresses on the glands affected by mastitis. These warm compresses will encourage the milk flow.
Draining of the glands is required if the infection persists for some time. This draining requires an aesthetic approach, and the bitch will be on intravenous fluid therapy. However, in advance cases of mastitis, the veterinarian will recommend a mastectomy, i.e. entirely removing the glands. This mastectomy is rarely done as there are more chances of mastitis recovery with the medications.
To examine the dehydration status of the pups, use the forefinger and thumb for pinching a bit of coat on the back of the head. If the pups are hydrated, then the skin will go back as it releases. However, the skin of the dehydrated pups will not spring back quickly. In highly dehydrated pups, the skin doesn’t spring back entirely.
The dog’s poop is not the sole indicator of the puppy’s health. However, it is one of the few things that you can witness every day. The poop of the puppy can vary from one day to the other. The few things that you should monitor in the puppy’s stool or how a healthy puppy’s stool should like to include the following factors: –
The color of the healthy puppy stool should be brown. There may be several shades of brown and it can range between medium brown to milk chocolate brownish. The brown color of the stool indicates that the entire nutrients from the food are well absorbed and the puppy is well hydrated.
Generally, the puppy passes the stool one to two times a day, and the frequency of stool should be the same every day. Some puppies may pass the stool four times a day. However, even for those puppies, the key is the consistent passing of the stool. If the pooping number increase then there may be some health issue with the puppy.
The healthy puppy should pass a relatively firm stool that should come in the form of segments. The segments should be one to two inches long. If the poop is not coming in segments or coming as a single soft piece, then it indicates the presence of moisture. The puppy’s body is not absorbing water.
On the other hand, if the poop is coming in smaller pallets, then there are chances of constipation. The exact consistency depends on the type of diet. The stool may be moist if the puppies are nursing the female dog.
The puppy starts gaining weight from the very first day. The puppy will every day gain weight of approximately 10-15% of the weight on day one. However, a simple thumb rule is that the puppy of the small breed will gain weight of five ounces per week and the puppy of large breeds will gain weight of two and a half pounds per week. Anything more than the above-mentioned ratio will develop obesity in the puppies.
Some female dogs may hurt the young ones by mistake or become aggressive towards them. Therefore, it is vital to keep an eye on the dog and puppies for the first few weeks. To help the bitches that become aggressive or don’t want to feed the young ones, place the whelping box in the area where there are low light and full silence.
Remove the pets of that room and keep other pets away from the area where the whelping box is placed. A little voice from other pets can make the new mother dog more anxious and she can become aggressive towards her puppies, and can even kill them.
Avoid introducing too many people to the female dog as it can also make the mom aggressive towards her puppies or stop nursing them. Make sure that the bitch has enough space in the whelping box to move around to avoid any accidental death of the puppies.
Sometimes the mother is not feeling well, and she will stop showing interest in her puppies. Due to health issues, she will avoid feeding them. These health issues can be due to retained placenta. Thus, it is necessary to contact the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Sometimes the female dog is unable to nurse the pups as she may not have enough milk to nurse the whole litter. There can be dehydration in the mother dog. Therefore, try to provide the mother with some lukewarm water along with some chicken broth as the salt in the chicken broth may enhance her thirst.
Even after all the steps get failed, and the mother is still not nursing the pups, then manual assistance from you can encourage the mother to nurse the puppies. Put the pups up towards the mammary glands of the mother and permit the puppies to nurse themselves.
It is necessary to provide some extra care for the mother dog after the whelping. The mother needs to be hydrated and fed correctly to ensure that her puppies will remain healthy. For the mother dog to produce high-quality milk for the puppies, she requires a high-quality diet that consists of a high level of protein, calcium, and fats. Allow and encourage the momma to drink as much water as she wants it is also essential for the mother that is nursing her puppies.
It is essential to add some calcium to the homemade feed and it is vital to add calcium in a balanced commercial diet, especially for the puppies of large breed dogs and pregnant female dogs. However, adding too much calcium in the homemade feed will reduce the nutritional value of the food and can cause eclampsia if given to much. Excess calcium is to be avoided while pregnant.
Providing a higher quantity of the calcium to the bitches during pregnancy produces some fatal effects on the bitches and puppies. High calcium will cause congenital disabilities in puppies. It is useful to add calcium after the whelping as lactation requires a large amount of calcium. We highly suggest working with your vet as t quantity and frequency that is best for ‘your’ breed/dog.
Once the bitch becomes pregnant, then she should have well-balanced and high-quality feed throughout the processes of pregnancy to fulfill the nutritional requirement of the bitch. The diet should contain a high amount of carbohydrates and a low level of fiber content to make sure that female dogs have sufficient energy intake.
An adequate level of calcium, i.e. between 1-1.8% and phosphorous between 0.8-1.6 % is important during the pregnancy for sufficient production of milk by the mother dog. However, the usage of calcium supplements during pregnancy will increase the chances of eclampsia (a disease in which there is a rapid drop in the calcium level)
The higher level of calcium can cause congenital disabilities in puppies. However, the lactation process needs long term calcium for adequate production of the milk. Heavy milker dogs are more prone to be deficient in calcium. Therefore, it is essential to provide them with calcium supplements until weaning.
We use Breeder’s Edge Oxy Momma.
However, providing only calcium will make the problem worse. It is crucial to balance calcium with phosphorus. The addition of vitamin D will help absorption and vitamin C will aid in getting the calcium out of the bones. These nutrients are suitable for the female nursing dog, and with the puppy food, the mother will get all the essential nutrients.
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