You may have came here by accident or maybe you were looking for information. This post is different than than my previous posts and is geared more to other breeders or people inexperienced with delivering puppies. About 10 years ago we got into breeding dogs. In the past few years we have ri-invested much more time in it. We’ve learned many things that we feel is necessary. Even in the years we took off from breeding, we’ve helped with many of my in-laws litters eich we gained valuable information. So the following tips will help those looking for what they may need when whelping a female and beyond.
What to expect and need:
So you’ve recently discovered that your fur member is pregnant. She may be in a state where she no longer eats as much as she normally does. That will subside. Her apetite will eventually increase. Around 4-5 weeks of age you can gradually increase your girls food to 1 ½ times her normal amount. You can also feed her puppy food to increase her calorie content. The food content should be at least 29 percent protein and 17 percent fat with adequate amounts of calcium. AKC and others suggest only increasing food amount by 15-25%. I recommend higher amounts as I’ve seen my girls well underweight even increasing 50%. Many breeders free feed once the puppies are born.
We do feed a balanced diet, but sometimes I also give my girls “Bitch Pills”. Your food may not have the correct necessary food requirements, and you may also choose to supplement it with certain vitamins. I find Bitch Pills at amazon and or Revival Animal Health.
Not all my girls like these pills. They are fairly large and I have to break them up into pieces to give the pills to them. There are other companies you could go with. Personally I don’t see the pills as a necessity if you are meeting recommended dietary guidelines. My girls are very important to me personally, so I make sure my girls are as healthy as possible. Anyone breeding their girl should too.
63 days is the average time for a pregnancy. A females normal temperature will hover over 100 degrees farenheit. Around 24-36 hours prior to giving birth her temperature will spike to around 101.5. Then immediately it will drop. When the temperature drops below 98 degrees the puppies will arrive in a matter of hours. Mine generally always give birth to the first puppy within 12 hours of surpassing 98 degrees. Now a thermometer is also not a must to buy, but it is handy when trying to narrow down a time of birth. We use a digital thermometer similar to the one linked. Glass thermometers may be more accurate, but personally I don’t like using them.
Your female will soon start contractions. At the onset of contractions we give our girls calsorb.
It helps with consistent contractions similar to how Pitocin acts in humans. We also give them about an inch squirt between puppies. I personally believe in calsorb as it helps keep contractions consistent and continual. In a sense it can make the labor faster. Tina’s labor generally lasts around 12 hours without it, and 6 hours with it. As a back up you could use vanilla ice cream. It’s high in calcium, and your dog will love it. However, it’s not as effective.
Also between contractions we give our girls nutracal. It helps give them extra energy that will be burned during the birthing process. The link says it’s for puppies, but works for the mom while pushing out her pups. I think this is a must, as the health of the mom is vital.
During the actual delivery of each puppy, the sack will need to broken by either your girl or your self. I know many people don’t intervene at all and let the mom do everything. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. My current process is to help the mom break the sack and cut the umbilical cord. I also use a hemostat, forceps, or Kelly clamp to stop the bleeding.
I clamp about a centimeter from the chest, maybe more. I clamp for about 2 minutes. The bleeding should stop by then and you can remove it. I do know many who use a powder to stop the bleeding but I’ve never had to use it. I know many don’t even clamp or do anything in this process, however as a word of caution you should always have a clamp on hand.
With Willow’s first litter I had one puppy come out with the sac unattached. Literally the umbilical cord was shooting blood on the wall. If I didn’t have a clamp or some way of stopping the bleeding, the puppy would have died. In those cases it’s a must to use some sort of clamp, or the puppy will die.
We used to tie the umbilical cords with string rather than clamp, but I don’t do that anymore. It sometimes is difficult to tie a thread around an umbilical cord anyway. I just clamp, cut, and remove, and done. The rest of the cord falls off in around 3 days. I allow our moms to eat 5 of the sacs, and through the rest away. Don’t be alarmed with the mom’s poop. The stools will be tarry black because of eating the sacs.
Another must is a bulb suction. I get bulb suctions for preemie’s. It’s necessary to remove fluid from the nose and throat just in case too much fluid is stuck inside their airway. It will help your puppy to breath rather than suffocate. If you don’t hear a puppy crying or making noise when they come out you’ll need to suction. The nose will be too small but just try and pull it out the best you can with the suction. The throat is a lot easier. Rubbing the puppy will also spark them to move. The bulb suction I have is easy to clean, but I’m not all to happy about it as it does come apart too easy. Make sure to always press the suction from the rear and never from the sides.
Many people like to identify their puppies once they are born. There are many options to use. I know many people who use Velcro collars. I personally don’t use Velcro, although I do make my own out of parachute chord. I bought a bunch of different colors and just use a sliding knot on both ends. A lot of people use the velcro ones though.
I personally don’t put the colors on till around 2 weeks. I know many put them on almost when they are born. It’s a matter of preference. Some don’t ever put them on. I do use collars to monitor each puppies growth. That way I can pay attention to ones who may be on the smaller side.
When the puppies are beginning to eat their first foods around 3 weeks of age you might consider using a milk replacement with water and puppy food. It helps with transition from mums milk to food. It can also be given to mum to increase her calcium intake while nursing. It is a must to have on hand in case of an emergency and your girl can’t nurse.
Things to prepare ahead of time:
We can’t forget the whelping box. There are many ways to create a whelping box. You can place pieces of wood together. You can use wire cages. There are endless ways of creating a safe space for your new puppy family. The most important thing is to create bumpers in the box so that the puppies don’t get crushed by their mom. I’ve seen dozens of puppies die from other breeders who don’t use bumpers. Learn from their mistakes. The following are whelp boxes I love.
My most favorite box is Jonart. It’s an expensive box by far. It’s easy to clean, break down, however as mentioned very expensive. So if you are going to do this say once, then it’s not going to be useful for you.
This is a close second for me: Warwick Whelp Box. This is from England so the shipping is going to be more. The other is just as nice though.
As a cheaper possibility you could use this playpen. You’ll just need to figure out a way to put a bumper in it. We personally have a puppy room that is totally devoted to the puppies birth and growth. We also own a couple play fences to cordon off certain areas of the room and house. This is the playpen fence we have.
Every box needs to be lined with something that can be kept clean. I have 4 of these whelp pads. It allows me to change the bedding twice a day, and not have to wash clothes every day. I almost see this as a must for keeping the whelp box clean and helping keep your pups healthy and happy. I’ve tried others options, but this has been the most successful. I know some who use medical chux.
Other things not to forget:
One of the most important things I stress with every family that takes a puppy home with them is to register their microchips. I microchip every puppy at week 4. Many breeders opt to have their vet do it, but you can save hundreds of dollars doing it yourself. You can buy chips from many different companies. We use AKC Reunite chips now. We’ve also used AVID chips in the past. AVID chips are a bit easier to insert, but AVID has begun charging extra fees to people that I think are unnecessary. I stress microchips because I don’t want any of my dogs to become a statistic at the pound because a dog runs away. Other breeders see it as a cost and think it’s not necessary, but I think it is very important. Those who adopt a puppy from me know that as well. If you plan on having multiple litters it will be essential to have a microchip reader. We use a Halo reader as it recognizes almost all chips that exist.
You can get a ultrasound at 4 weeks. I’ve had some vets say they can’t do it that early. I literally told a tech “can I use your machine”. The vet did it anyway and confirmed the pregnancy. Any trained vet can confirm a pregnancy that early. Why do we check for confirmation? There are a couple reasons, one being that I don’t want to unnecessarily give me girls extra food with higher amounts of calories causing excess weight gain. Two, it helps with finding proper puppy parents by going through our puppy waitlist. The one time I didn’t confirm a pregnancy my girl had a false pregnancy and gained 10 pounds. She’s now in a unhealthy weight and is still loosing weight.
You can also opt for a ultrasound or x-ray around day 50-53. X-rays I feel are more accurate as I have realized most vets are not training extensively to use their ultrasounds and miss puppies. That’s partly why I wait to day 53 on x-ray because it’s a more definitive result on puppy count waiting. At 50 days puppy bones begin to ossify. Waiting a couple days increase the effectiveness of an x-ray. I don’t always do an ultrasound or x-ray this late though. I generally do it in a pregnancy which I think is high risk and I need to know how many puppies are inside. Say a labor has been going on for an extended period of time, I can plan a c-section to help with the remaining puppies. If it isn’t a high risk pregnancy, then I definitely don’t see the need for subjecting puppies to unneeded radiation.
Anyway, we hope these tips are useful. I know there are more things that could be mentioned. As the time comes I’ll probably make changes. Here’s to happy and healthy puppies.