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Canine Reproduction


Getting ready to whelp a litter should not be stressful but even experienced dog breeders run into unexpected delivery problems when whelping puppies so before you call the vet...





Sherry L. Shivley, Top Journalist Award Winner


Her delivery date is drawing near and you're excited about the new puppies and nervous about whelping a litter.


Ready For Whelping

You’ve done all the right things, proving the Breed Standard, health testing, researched bloodlines, selected the perfect male. Then your bitch was wormed, vaccinated, and Brucellosis tested before she was introduced to her Romeo.


They did the Doggie Tango, and in 63 days, you should have beautiful pups to carry on your bloodline in the living room and show ring. Here is a newborn Boxer puppy.


Day 10 comes along, and she throws up breakfast and refuses to eat. That’s a good sign that she is pregnant! On Day 21 you check and her gums are pale, that means the pups are implanting in her uterus. All is going as planned.


On Day 30 you wake up and realize you have nothing ready for whelping new puppies! You quickly grab your phone and start doing research and making notes. Essentials are a sturdy whelping box you can disinfect after each use. Some expand so you can add on a play and potty area as the pups get mobile. Some people, about to become a “dog breeder”, buy PVC raised beds from hardware stores and make their own whelping bed, using stick down floor tiles on the floor to prevent fluid leakage. Many use paper pellets or equine alfalfa pellets for litter, as growing puppies will eat wood chips.


A large litter box with one side cut down and smoothed for easy entry is a great way for new puppies to learn potty training.


Around Day 60-61, your Vet can do an X Ray to determine how many pups you should be expecting if that is a concern to you. The skeletons do not calcify until day 60, so any other testing is a guessing game.


Be sure to have the your veterinarian’s number handy, also the number for your area emergency clinic. Most births are trouble free. Sometimes the ride to the Vet will start things moving along. Be prepared for whelping the litter!


Assembling Your Whelping Kit

You can order whelping supplies and then can make your own whelping kit by buying a tool box with lift out shelves. In it you should have scissors for cutting umbilical cords and opening packages. You’ll need hemostats for clamping cords, unwaxed dental floss for tying cords, if needed.


Include surgical gloves, trash bags, KY Jelly, notebook and pens, thermometer, scale, preemie bottles, wedge shaped cosmetic sponges or natural sponges. (If newborn puppies will not nurse from a bottle, they may suck from a sponge.) In your whelping kit is a good place for Puppy Milk Replacer, Nose suction bulb, and 20-50CC syringes to give bitch fluids if she refuses to drink.


Boosters For The Dam Or New Puppies

Making a slurry of Pedialyte and sugar will keep her energy up when she is laboring. For small dogs give 10 cc, large dogs 20cc and giant dogs 30cc. Another energy stimulant is Dark Karo Syrup or Liver water (made by boiling liver and saving the water). Some Vets are hesitant to give Dexamethasone to us for home use, so in the case of a newborn puppy that is not vigorous, give a bit of liver water and syrup on the tongue for energy.


Liquid Calcium, ice cream, or plain yogurt helps keep the contractions coming during labor and to keep the bitch calm. Pediatric gas drops just in case.


Bitches will birth one horn of the uterus, have a rest, then produce pups from the other horn. If she is expecting 8 pups, has 3 and labor stops or is non-productive, it is time to call the Vet if she is straining and nothing is happening.


Doing the Wheelbarrow-walk with her may help reposition the pup. Here’s how, move her into an area away from the pups she has delivered, pick up her hind legs and walk her a few steps on the front. Also, taking a towel and the bitch outside to potty has helped move things along. The towel is to pick up and dry the pup while heading back to the house with Mom.


After-Whelping Tips

For the dam: a whole cabbage with leaves removed, and frozen to place on inflamed nipples, to help prevent mastitis. Small nail clippers to keep tiny nails from scratching Moms tummy, Fenugreek if milk doesn’t come in as fast as it should. For the new puppies: Heating pad made specifically for new puppies, lots of towels and blankets, Royal Canin Puppy Mousse to mix with milk as they get older and are ready to try something chewy.


I hope I have helped you gather a few essentials together in your Whelping Kit and your store of knowledge about whelping puppies. Pass it along as you get prepared! EST 1998   1805



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