Archive for Tips on whelping
Begin to really watch for signs of labour on day 57, and arrange for your bitch to have an ultrasound that day if your vet has the equipment necessary to do this. Ultrasounds are very useful to determine the size of the pups just prior to delivery day.
Temperature-taking at least twice a day, 12 hours apart, is necessary starting on the 57th day. If your vet is not on call evenings, weekends or holidays, take a dry run to the nearest emergency clinic. Make sure your car is full of gas and ready at all times. If an emergency visit is needed, take your puppy box, blankets and a hot water bottle, and your bitch can ride in her crate.
The whelping box
Be sure to have all your supplies ready before whelping. I prefer a cardboard box beside my bed, which the bitch is introduced to a few days before the due date. For Toy breeds I use a heavy box with handles (the kind used for transporting fruit is my favourite) and I use clothes pegs to clip a blanket around the box to simulate a cave. One side of the box is lower so the bitch can come out.
Have a board cut the exact size of the box so you can wrap a blanket around it and underneath. Test out a heating pad on low to put into one corner of the box, wrapped in a pillowcase and hemmed to the blanket in the box, so pups do not crawl underneath it. Leave the heat on low for first three weeks, depending on room temperature, then at night for the next week or two.
Some say that the bitch’s milk will come down faster if her stomach is massaged for three days prior to labour, but I have not tried this. An oxytocin shot from the vet is helpful for milk. If a Caesarian section is necessary, milk does not always come down right away. Have a supply of puppy formula on hand, as well as syringes or pet nursers.
My rule for feeding mother is one meal per pup plus one meal for herself per day. I like to give her warm diluted goat’s milk for about three weeks after whelping, then graduate to water. Canned organic pumpkin (available in grocery stores) is useful for cases of loose stools; add just about one-half teaspoon to the bitch’s food.
For bathroom duties, a potty pen works very well for me. A small pen set up in my sunroom with piddle pads is helpful for nighttime.
As they grow
Be prepared for lack of sleep for about the first week. You will learn to catnap afternoons when pups are sleeping. A helper to tend to your other dogs during this time is very useful. I start weaning my pups around 3-1/2 weeks.
Handle the puppies frequently and enjoy every minute of having them. When you are exhibiting your own homebred dog in the Bred By Exhibitor class, you’ll find it so rewarding that you’ll forget about the stress you encountered. Good luck, it is all worth it!