Pregnant bitches usually react on instinct and get through the birthing process without problems. Owners must know how to help her to ensure the well-being of both mothers and puppies.
1. Take the bitch to the veterinarian for an examination. Make an appointment with your veterinarian so she can examine the bitch, confirm the pregnancy and see if there are any complications
2. Provide a place for her litter. A week before the bitch is expected to give birth, prepare a home for her to make her litter. Provide her with the space she needs by placing her on a bed, in a towel or blanket-lined crate.
Choose a secluded area, such as a separate room, where she can enjoy privacy and quiet.
3. Place food and water near the kennel. Put some food and water near the kennel to make it easy for the bitch to access these resources and eat and drink without leaving the puppy.
4. Feed the pregnant bitch puppy food. Pregnant bitches should eat good quality puppy food rich in protein and calcium to help prepare their bodies to produce plenty of milk.
Let the bitch eat puppy food until the puppies are weaned.
Monitor the bitch’s labor and postpartum condition
1. Keep a close eye on your bitch’s condition while she is in labor. If your presence does not make her anxious, you may want to keep a good eye on her while she is in labor. Don’t hesitate. Like a woman in labor, a bitch will feel pain during contractions. This is a necessary process.
Many puppies are born in the middle of the night (while you sleep). As you get closer to your due date, make it a habit to check the status of your bitch every time you wake up.
2. Make sure the bitch cleans the puppies right away. The bitch will clean the newborn puppies immediately. Give her a minute or two to chew through the sac and then lick the puppies clean. If the bitch takes longer than that and still can’t get it right, you can step in and help take off the sac and dry the puppy vigorously to stimulate breathing.
If necessary, you can carefully tie the umbilical cord in a knot about 2.5 cm from the puppy and cut it with clean scissors.
3. Make sure the mother feeds the puppies. The puppy must drink milk within 1 to 3 hours of birth. You may need to place it in front of the mother’s nipple and gently express a small amount of milk so that it understands what to do.
Puppy does not want to drink milk? The mother dog does not want to feed the puppy? The puppy most likely has a problem, such as a cleft palate. Open the puppy’s mouth and observe the upper wall of the mouth. It should be intact, with no holes or fissures that continue into the sinuses. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian.
If the puppy cannot suckle breast milk but is otherwise healthy, you may need to feed it dog formula by tube or bottle.
4. Count the number of puppies. After the puppies are born, count the total number of puppies the mother has given birth to make it easier for you to keep track of the number of puppies.
5. Don’t remove the placenta right away. The bitch may want to eat the placenta, which is not harmful to her. You do not need to remove the placentas immediately. Only throw them in the trash if the bitch won’t eat them.
Sometimes the bitch may vomit after eating the placenta.
Each puppy has its placenta.
6. Keep the room warm. Puppies can’t regulate their body temperature very well yet, and you need to keep them warm. Keep one part of the whelping box at 29 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit) for the first few days after birth. After that, you can lower the temperature to 24 to 27 degrees Celsius (75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit).
Place a heat lamp in one corner of the whelping box to make it warmer. Puppies with colds don’t move well. Make sure the room is friendly, and the puppy is snuggled up to the mother and other puppies.
7. Take the bitch and puppies to the veterinary clinic for an examination. Make an appointment to see the vet and have her check the bitch to ensure she is recovering well, and the puppies are healthy.
8. Don’t let other dogs near the mother and puppies. If you have a father dog, ensure he stays in a different room from the mother and puppies. Don’t let other dogs in the house disturb the mother and puppies, either. Adult dogs may fight and hurt the puppies. The mother dog can become incredibly aggressive to protect the puppies. This is normal behavior; you should not punish her for her instincts.
Female dogs can also act defensively and aggressively toward people, so don’t let the kids bother the puppies.
9. Do not bathe the bitch immediately after giving birth. Unless it is filthy, only bathe it with a mild oatmeal shampoo after a few weeks. Rinse the body well, and don’t leave residues the puppy could come into contact with while suckling the mother’s milk.
Caring for the mother dog
1. Feed the mother dog puppy food. A nursing mother dog needs to eat a good quality puppy food rich in protein and calcium so that she can produce a lot of milk. She needs to eat until the puppies are weaned.
A bitch can eat as much as she wants, sometimes as much as four times the amount she ate before she was pregnant. Don’t worry about the bitch overeating because she needs a lot of calories to produce milk.
Note that the bitch may not eat much for the first 24 to 48 hours after giving birth.
2. Do not give calcium supplements to the mother dog. Do not give her more calcium without asking your veterinarian. Taking too much calcium can cause whelping fever.
Lactation fever results from a significant decrease in blood calcium and usually occurs 2 to 3 weeks after whelping. The bitch’s muscles begin to become stiff and may tremble. Low blood calcium can also cause convulsions.
If you suspect your bitch has lactation fever, take her to the veterinarian immediately.
3. Let the mother dog make her schedule. During the first 2 to 4 weeks, the mother is busy caring for and monitoring her puppies. She does not want to be too far away from the puppy. She must stay with the puppies, keep them warm, feed them and clean them. Only take her away for 5 to 10 minutes to go to the bathroom.
4. Trim the long hair. If the bitch has a long coat, you can help her trim the hair around her tail, hind legs, and mammary glands after she has given birth to her puppies to maintain hygiene.
If unsure or do not have the proper utensils, you can have your pet groomer or veterinarian trim the hair.
5. Check the mammary glands of nursing bitches daily. A bitch’s mammary glands can become infected (mastitis) and quickly evolve into something severe. Red (or purple), hardened, hot, or sore mammary glands are a problem. Sometimes, mastitis can even lead to death in nursing bitches.
If you suspect a bitch has mastitis, take her to the vet immediately. In short, always act quickly (even if you must go to the emergency department of your vet)
6. The mother dog will have a vaginal discharge. A few weeks after a mother dog gives birth (up to 8 weeks), there will be vaginal discharge. This is normal. The release is brownish-red in color and appears to be sticky. Occasionally it will have a slight odor.
If the discharge is yellow, green, or gray, or if it smells bad, take your dog to the vet. His uterus may be infected.
Caring for a newborn puppy
1. Monitor the condition of puppies that are still being breastfed. Ensure the puppy is breastfed every few hours for the first few weeks. It should eat at least every 2 to 4 hours. Healthy, happy puppies sleep all the time; if they cry all the time, they may not get enough nutrition. Check to ensure their bellies are round and their coats are clean, which means they are well cared for.
Try putting them on an electronic scale to ensure they gain weight daily. Puppies should double their importance in the first week.
Don’t ignore puppies that are thinner or less active than other puppies. Take it to the vet immediately. He may need to take supplements or receive additional help.
Observe the puppy for any abnormalities. If all puppies are thriving after the first few days, but one is particularly skinny, it is likely that he is not eating enough or has some other problem. Take the puppy to the veterinary clinic immediately for an examination. Newborn puppies, like newborn babies, are susceptible to illness and dehydration.
3. Keep the whelping box clean. The closed crate will become dirtier as puppies grow more extensive and flexible. Clean the trunk at least two to three times a day to keep it clean.
4. Touch the puppies to socialize them. Puppies must undergo a healthy socialization process to get to know this new world, including becoming familiar with humans. Hold the puppy several times a day. Let them get used to having all parts of their body touched so that they won’t feel strange when they grow up.
5. Wait until the puppy is 8 weeks old before giving it to someone else. If you plan to sell or give your puppy to someone else, it’s best to wait until it’s 8 weeks old before giving it to its new owner. In some places (such as California), selling or giving away a puppy that is less than 8 weeks old is illegal.
Puppies should be completely weaned and ready to eat dog food before they are given to their new homes.
It is recommended that puppies be dewormed and vaccinated before they are sent away. Consult your veterinarian and follow her advice.