Basic Puppy Care
House Training Your Puppy
Crate Training Your Puppy
Puppy's First Bath
Cooking for Your Dog
Traveling with Your Puppy by Plane
Traveling with Your Puppy by Car
Traveling With Your Dog by Car
Traveling With Your Dog by Plane
Should I Breed my Dog?
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Dog Birth Basics
By John Parsons
Please note: As it pertains to the written breeding and whelping information on this page and in consideration of those who might not
be familiar with the language of dogs, we will be substituting the words "Dog" or "Mother" or "Female" for the words "Bitch" and "Dam"
in all of the following references to our female canines. While this may not be understood or kindly accepted by certain professional
dog breeders or enthusiasts, I feel the need to consider the sensibilities of the general
public, and most especially those of the young children who may be visiting this site, as part of our ongoing concern and obligation
to them to responsibly use language that will be easily understood and accepted. We hope our well-meaning intent will be received in
the respectable spirit in which it is meant by all who read this. - John
Canine Mother Care
Excellent mother-care of your pregnant female canine should begin long before breeding as a continual cycle of superior care. Quality nutrition, exercise, health checks and grooming are part of the ongoing process that keeps your female healthy and happy.
Meticulous attention to the well being of your female will keep you tuned in to her emotional health as well. You need to really know your dog and be very observant, especially during pregnancy. Her emotional health is as important a consideration during pregnancy as her general physical health.
Once your female is bred, the time will pass very quickly. Every single day counts so pay good attention to her personal needs of grooming, diet and health care. A healthy mom will be much more likely to have healthy puppies. By the same token, a contented mom will also be much more likely to be a good mother. Give your expectant mom all of the attention she needs and then spoil her with extra!
A few weeks before her due date, be sure to bathe her and groom the hair away from her nipples. Don't wait more than half way into her pregnancy to do this because it will only make her more uncomfortable the farther along she is. Groom her before her pregnancy becomes cumbersome.
In the days just before labor, your female will have to urinate more frequently. She will be experiencing increased pressure on her bladder, the closer she gets to labor, as her puppies grow inside her. Don't ever make her wait to go outside. Give her every opportunity to relieve herself - try to think of it even before she does. She will also likely have a mucous discharge from her vagina as well. That is normal.
You'll probably notice her wanting more of your attention. She needs reassurance. Some dogs need extra attention more than others. If you have a first time mom, she will probably demonstrate a desire for your attention even more. Don't overlook this. Pet her, reassure her. We cuddle our moms and pet them and give them lots of praise.
We find rocking chairs particularly good for these moments! Never overwhelm your dog, give her what she needs but don't impose on her "space" if she wants to be left alone.
Anxiety is very bad for a mom during late pregnancy. So, we discourage well meaning attention from visitors who our dogs do not know. New sounds, smells and unfamiliar people can cause the female to feel insecure in the last few days of pregnancy.
Concerning meals, you may have to feed her smaller amounts more frequently to be sure she is eating enough in a day. Pay attention to this, excellent nutrition is vital to her and her unborn puppies so don't overlook it. Her stomach is being squished by her growing babies and she will not be inclined to eat large amounts at a time.
Offer Frequent Nourishing Snacks Especially During Late Pregnancy
Make her meals smaller and really yummy (we combine both wet and dry dog food together and make a nice warm gravy with an egg, milk and water - they can't resist it!!). We always say, "do whatever it takes". We even cook a whole turkey or a leg of lamb when necessary to entice our moms to eat really well, especially if it looks like one is not gaining enough weight. We feel that there is no such thing as going over board. Excellent nutrition is the foundation for excellent health, especially during pregnancy, healthy puppies and a long healthy life! Keep clean water available at all times.
We feel that milk and eggs are excellent nutritional supplements. We raise dairy goats, sheep and chickens and supplement the diet of all of our dogs with fresh goat milk, cooked lamb and eggs. If you are concerned that milk will make your dog scour (have diarrhea), add only a little to their diet at first and slowly increase it to a cup or two a day. Cow milk seems to cause much more digestive irritation to dogs (and humans!) than goat milk does. Goat milk is simply easier to digest. We prefer to supplement only with whole, unpasteurized goat milk. All of our puppies are weaned with goat milk as a small supplement to their diets and we have great success with it. It gives our dogs beautiful, soft, shinny, healthy coats too!
You will need:
* Several clean towels
* Surgical Scissors (sharp/blunt preferred)
* Hydrogen peroxide (for blood stain clean-up)
* Warm birthing area
* Heating pad (for later use with newborn puppies as needed)
* Powdered infant canine formula
* Animal Baby bottle (just in case)
* Calm attitude
When labor begins you will note restlessness in your female. She will probably have spent the days immediately before the onset of labor much less inclined to leave her area as she begins to make a "nest" for her comming babies, and more shy about the approach of strangers. As her contractions become regular and more intense, she will dig a lot in her area to create a "cradle" for her babies. She will turn herself around a great deal too, trying to find a comfortable spot.
Most of our moms find that "spot" only on our laps and refuse to settle anywhere else! So, armed with lots of fresh clean towels, we take shifts with a laboring mom. With our small dogs, this becomes a cozy cuddle on the couch (we put a plastic shower curtain under the blanket we lay on with layers of towels under the mom!). With our larger dogs, only the floor will do (cozy in the winter in front of the fire!).
Such moments are so tender and fascinating! But, no matter where your female whelps, be sure not to crowd her. Some females really, really guard their privacy and might not want your attention no matter how well intended or gently it is offered. Every one is different and to each her own!
As birth begins, your female will begin to push. As the puppy descends and comes through the birth canal and begins to crown.
You may notice this as a darkish bubble beginning to protrude from her vagina. This is the puppy enclosed in the amniotic sac. Leave this alone. DON'T attempt to rupture the sack at this point!
There is no need to interfere or rush things. She may push just to this point and then take a few seconds rest. She might even stand up again and dig a little before lying back down. This is normal, don't interfere. Birthing slowly is the most healthy way for the baby to come out. The mothers tender vaginal tissues won't tear and the baby's arrival won't be traumatic. Slow and steady is just the way birth was meant to be!
We do not allow strangers or well-meaning friends to attend puppy births. Despite the fact that birth is the most natural of body functions in all species (including humans!), most people are generally not familiar enough with it or adequately educated about birth to make their attendance safe and meaningful. Too often people fear birth and grossly misinterpret it as a crisis needing rescue management. Then they tend to project that anxiety onto the birth environment and even panic. Panic leads to unwarranted manhandling and interventions, and those interventions can lead to the death of the puppy (puppies) and even the mom. Dogs are so very, very sensitive to emotional sensations. They accurately read even well hidden human intentions. Anything other than the familiar energies of family members (and sincere loving and un meddlesome encouragement) just does not belong in the canine birth environment. If you want to share the birth of your puppies, take a video of it and pass it around. That keeps inexperienced viewers at a safe vantage point!
The mom will usually push slowly and carefully so the baby does not explode out like a cannon ball. Remember, she knows what to do. Just feel glad that she is sharing this intimate event with you. Don't get excited or interfere with the process. Stay calm and QUIET - talk as little as possible. The less you excite her, the more accurate her instincts will be and the better job she will do doing what comes naturally!
At about this point, (when most if not all of the baby is out) it would be appropriate to rupture the membranes (carefully pinch it with your fingernail) and clear them away from the baby and wipe the newborns face off a bit. We recommend this action and do it ourselves at all births, though occassionally it ruptures on its own as the pup is being born. We don't like to wait if the puppy is born in the sack, we remove it right away and suggest you do too.
The timing and necessity of assistance is really determined by individual circumstance and best interpreted by experienced attendants. There are so many variables. The rule of thumb is that most experienced canine mothers would have birthed their puppies without any help or attention from anyone. Certainly dogs in the wild do - but there is generally no way to assess the viable outcomes (live puppies) from those (wild dog) births so in my opinion (Casey's), the natural abilities and outcomes of the births of wild dogs is not a fair argument or reasonable comparison for the management of domestic dog births. With domestic dogs, the fact is, skilled assistance is sometimes necessary and can be very important - even vital to a positive, optimal outcome. If you are going to breed dogs, you should commit yourself to the constant study of canine birth and be willing at all times, day or night, to attend the births of all of your females. Talk to Vets and experienced dog breeders and learn all that you can.
That is an absolute rule of responsible management.
The examples of when your assistance could become necessary are many. Such as in the case of a new mom who might greatly benefit from well timed help and comfort when she finds labor and birth confusing. This happens sometimes. One of our moms resented the discomfort of labor so much she orphaned an entire litter! We were able to foster the pups to a mother with a maternal instinct that was so strong she would have adopted anything and did - even kittens once!!!! (See graphic below at the end of page)
Or your help could be required in the case of a mom (experienced or not) birthing a large litter, who might become overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of her puppies during birth - gentle assistance in such a case becomes very, very warranted.
Another example would be fast births. Normally, puppies are born at intervals of an hour or so. This is natures way of allowing sufficient time for the mom to clean the newborn, get him started and warm him up (with lots and lots of licking and nudging), as well as clean up herself and her birth area and ready all for the arrival of the next pup. But occasionally puppies come too quickly for the mom to keep up with and track of. It is part of the unfortunate complication imposed on dogs by humans who have, for decades, been breeding them for production and large litter numbers (to equal higher profits). Too often dogs are turned into commercial producers, literal birth machines. Unfortunately, large litters can be a complication unto themselves.
Remember, there is a big difference between responsible, well timed assistance and "fear management". No matter what happens during a birth, make your assisted maneuvers well thought out and steady. Don't rush and don't let anyone else get their knickers all in a twist in an attempt to be a saviour. Don't be clumsy either (unleashed emotions and excitement causes clumsiness). Stay quiet, calm and measured in all your ministrations. Allow yourself to be open to what is going on at all times so you can work in harmony with the moment. Birth is normal - that fact is the ultimate truth.
I am not saying that birth is not an emotional time, it really truly is - you even might find yourself brushing aside a tear. And I am certainly not saying that puppy deaths do not occur either; unfortunately, sometimes they do and it hurts. Sadly, birthing mothers even die (though very, very, very rarely), and that is a terrible tragedy. It's just important that those who might be considering breeding dogs, or any other animal, be willing to apply themselves to all of the aspects involved with a reasonable and dedicated heart and mind. Be balanced.
O.K., back to birth!
Once the membranes are pulled away from the newborn, the mom will begin cleaning her baby herself. Within a moment or two the placenta will be birthed. We prefer to cut the umbilical cord (about 1 inch from the baby) instead of allowing the mom to tear it away. It helps prevent umbilical hernias especially with our Shih-Tzus. The mom will eat the whole placenta very quickly. This is a very good supplement for her so allow her to. If our little dogs have more than 3 pups, we remove the rest of the placentas ourselves.
Once the pups are all born, make sure you let mom go outside to relieve herself. She probably will not feel the urge to urinate
immediately after birthing even if her bladder is full . She also will need gentle encouragement to leave her pups, you may actually
have to insist and carry her outdoors and stay with her while she does her duty - and she will! Give her lots of praise and have a nice
bowl of nourishing food specially prepared and waiting for her. Remember, give her plenty of fresh water too, she is going to get
thirsty making milk for her puppies!
A Beautiful Canine Breech Birth!
Our Lady, a beautiful white Toy Poodle, birthed a lovely litter of two and the first born was a breech! She did a wonderful job and
her puppies were beautiful, big fat healthy butterballs!