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Note temperature drop, refusal to eat, digging, panting, possible vaginal bubble as progressive signs of impending birth so check your birthing supplies and…


September 4, 2018

Sherry L. Shivley, Journalist Award Winner


Prepare to greet newborn puppies but try not to interfere with what should be a natural process. Anywhere from 3 days to a week from her delivery day, your bitch may start digging in her whelping box, and panting.


Experts believe that like humans, dogs have Braxton Hicks contractions which makes her aware that she needs to get her area ready for her pups. Having mild contractions, just as in a human, is uncomfortable, and makes your bitch pant. Start charting her temperature for that drop signaling whelping is imminent.


One day she will not want to eat. If her temperature has dropped below 100 degrees F, this is your signal that you need to call work and tell them you won’t be in!


When she becomes a Velcro Dog, and sticks to you where ever you go, she is in the first stage of labor. She will do more digging and panting, while her cervix does its job of thinning and opening. The contractions are what helps this process. It cannot be hurried, so please don’t pull out the ii oxytocin, a bonding hormone (instant information).


Once you see a fluid filled bubble, you will know that the cervix is close to being fully opened but don’t interfere. Don’t hover, unusual actions can stress her and could even delay delivery. Unless your bitch is pushing, she is not ready to deliver.


Once Mom starts pushing, she is in Stage Two. Some experienced breeders advise not to feed her but you can give her things to help keep her strength up, broth, cooked chicken, beef, anything she will eat at this time. Keep the fluids coming with Pedialyte to prevent dehydration. Mixing some sugar with Pedialyte and squirting it with a syringe in her mouth will give the bitch a little extra energy after each puppy.


Once she has produced a puppy, you can start giving calcium. NOT BEFORE! If you give calcium before labor or before she produces a pup, the parathyroid does not release calcium into the body when needed for lactation, causing a life threatening situation called ECLAMPSIA.


Depending on litter size, calcium can be essential for your bitch during nursing-she is producing a ton of milk for those little milk maggots!  Calcium will help prevent eclampsia and or any nervous aggression toward her pups.


The amount of calcium some breeders recommend during or after whelping is:

For small breeds- 600-800mg of oral calcium per dose, large breeds, 1000-2000mg per dose and for giant breeds such as Great Danes 2000mg per dose. I do not recommend you use Calcium Gluconate which is IV or Sub Q. Oral Calcium is much better, such as Citrical. I found liquid Citrical with Vitamin D at Walmart. If your bitch still acts aggressive toward her pups- growling, snapping, not wanting to be with them, up the dosage for a couple of days until she gets it into her system.


As each pup is born, clamp the cord, and dip into Betadine. Hold the pups head down to drain fluids, and suction nose and mouth, dry with a towel, and give to your bitch to clean and nurse. You can allow your bitch to eat the afterbirth- it is full of nutrients. It can also cause horrible diarrhea. It is up to you whether or not you want her to consume it.


Sometimes a pup may get stuck- Using the Wheel Barrow with her and see if the pup will slide back then into proper position. Grasp your bitches hind legs, standing her on her front legs, stand this way or walk her a few steps for about 15 minutes, the put her back in the box. Sometimes this allows a puppy in a poor position to move into a better birth position. Also taking her out to potty can help move things along. Having an empty bowel or bladder gives her room for the pups.


A whelping pause happens when the pups from the first uterine horn have been born, and the pups from the second horn begin working their way into the world. A pause can last 5 minutes or as long as 48 hours. No one knows why dogs have pauses this long, but it could be one of the pups is immature, and needs time to finish growing in that 48 hours. It is normal, and should not cause panic.


Always look to the mother for your cue- If she is eating, sleeping and nursing the pups, she is getting ready for round two. If she is panting, crying, digging, and frantic she either needs more calcium or she is in trouble and needs a visit to the Vet.


Oxytocin can cause separation of placentas from the uterine walls, causing harm to your unborn pups. Avoid it at all costs unless your bitch has not cleaned.


If your bitch is taking a while, you might want to put your pups in a warm, clean box after nursing to protect them from their mother as she moves around to give birth. Be sure to put them back on her to nurse, and keep them warm!


If your bitch is not producing much milk after her colostrum has been consumed, giving some Fenugreek in her meals helps produce milk. If her nipples are hot, hard, and the pups are having a hard time latching on, be sure to milk those down, and put your most vigorous nursers on them. If they continue to swell, and are hard, milk them out, use warm compresses, and frozen cabbage leaves on the affected nipples. If they continue to be a problem, a trip to the Vet for antibiotics is advised before mastitis sets in. Do not let pups nurse from an infected gland.


Most bitches whelp with no trouble, but once in a while they need help. Being attentive to your girl and her pups, helps prevent many small problems.  For more whelping information see Birthing Puppies EST 2002 ©   1808



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