Introduction: How to Care for a Pregnant-whelping Female Dog
We have decided to breed our dog, so I have also decided to share some information we got from our breed mentor and our vet. Before I get any comments about irresponsible breeding may I please tell you that our dog is microchipped, KC registered, has had all health checks/screenings and we have a male with the same to breed her with.
Anyway to continue with my introduction I'd like to share some information with you!
Step 1: Dietary Needs
A female dog shouldn't be fed puppy food until the pups are born, until that point the bitch should be fed a high quality dog food with enough nutrients, and as few fillers as possible. I like royal canin for feeding my bitch/new born puppies, but it may not be the best out there, just personal preference.
The bitch will need to be fed more food whilst pregnant, in week 6, food should be upped by 10%. In week 7, up it again by 10% and split the food into two meals, in week 8 add an extra 10% in week 8 and feed this between the two meals. After whelping there should be food always available to the mother (a small amount in the bowl at all times)
If your vet reccomends, add vitamin supliments to the diet *NOTE only do this if reccomended by your vet*
Apologies for the picture!!!
Step 2: Exercise
A pregnant bitch may walk as normal in the first 3 weeks of pregnancy, but thereafter, walking should be enough, and light jogging(?). You need to keep the dam fit so that she is able to whelp the puppies. when the puppies are 4 weeks old you can take the dam for a ten minute walk daily as well as the regular bathroom breakes. When the pups are 6 weeks old you can take your dam for longer walks and at 8 weeks you should be able to walk her as normal.
It important that a dam gets regular exercise during prenancy so that she is able to whelp and care for the pups properly.
Step 3: Preparing for the Birth
Roughly 15 days before the birth, you should start taking the dams temperature (rectal), this helps determine when the birth will be. The dams temperature will drop within the 24 hours before leighbour begins. 10 days before the due date you should set up the whelping box/area. You can buy a whelping box, or you can build one. Or you can just have a whelping room/area.
As long as the room is safe and theres no dangers.
For a whelping area/room, put an old sheet down, and under one side, put an electric blanket and leave it on low. Put duct tape around the wire because puppies like to chew!
Please note that the photos have nothing to do with the writing, I;ll get some better photos soon!
Step 4: The Birth
2 weeks before the due date, go to your vet for a health check, and find out if the vet will be able to help you if there are complications and if they aren't ask where you should go.
You should prepare for the birth and make sure you have some things put by:
- a scale big enough to weigh the puppies
- allot of old cloth squared to touch the pups with
- latex gloves for the event that you need to assist birth (if the bitch can get a pup half out, you may need to pull a little if it remains there for long)
- warm water to wash the dams rear after all of the puppies are born
- some string and scissors (in case the dam doesnt bite the umbilical cord right, if it isnt removed, she will pull it off and this can cause hernia type things)
- boiling water do sterilise the scissors
Before birth you should cut and file your nails smooth because you may need to assist delivery.
The dam may not remove the sack properly, particularly if this is her first litter so you may need to pull the sack away from the face. If the bitch doesn't stimulate the puppy to breathe, then you will need to rub the puppy roughly with an old clean wash cloth (with nothing on it), if this fails then lay the puppy in cupped hands so that the pups head is on your fingertips, grip the puppy well and raise it above your head, rapidly lower the pup to in front of you. then continue to rub. If these fail, check for a heartbeat, if there is no heartbeat, there is nothing else you can do, the dead pup must be disposed of as soon as possible. If there is a hearbeat then you should repeat the steps i mentioned before.
Step 5: After Birth Care
After the dam has delivered all of the pups, you should take her outsude to relieve herself and offer her a drink. She may not want food right now, but water is important, also offer her milk. Get an old wash cloth and soak it in warm water and clean the dam's rear a little.
The puppies will be feeding constantly and will need the mother to stimulate them to relieve themselves for the first little while, so expect the dam to stay with the pups as much as possible and only leave them for food/water and bathroom breaks. Only the main person in the dam's life should handle the pups and be present during birth, other family members may visit but shouldn't handle the pups and visits should only be breif.
Keep lighting dim in the room, the pups eyes aren't yet fully developed and full light may be too drastic for them. The dam should be eating the same as she was in the week before birth. Food should always be available for a bitch whilst she is feeding the pups, as should water.
If one pup is being pushed away from the dams teats by stronger pups, then every two hours you should allow that pup 5 minutes of feeding whilst you remove the other pups. (the pup will be able to latch between time, but not for long time periods)
Step 6: Cautions
Puppies have been known to drown in water bowls, when they reach 4 weeks provide them with a wide, shallow dish, and be sure that the dams water is above the ground so that it is our of reach of pups.
If you have a larger breed of dog, be careful that the dam doesn't lay on the pups and crush them, this has been known to happen.
Step 7: 1-4 Week Old Puppy Care
The puppys calws should be cut every week, only taking the sharp edge off! if you cut too far up the pup can bleed to death so only cut a TINY bit off of the tip. Puppies claws are extremely sharp at this age and the dam will wean them early if their claws irritate her.
During the pups second week, they will begin to hear sounds, and their eyes may begin to open. Towards the end of week 2 the pups will begin to releive themselves without the help of the mother.
By week three the pups eyes should be open fully and they will be able to hear, they will start to interact with eachother and discover that they can make noise (growling/puppy barking) at this age the pups are much more interesting and fun, other people can visit for longer and stroke the pups. At the end of this week, you can grind some meat up and give it to the pups cold about a pea sized amount a time, one pea sized ball of meat per day. Put a shallow water dish down at this point.
The floor around your whelping box should be covered with newspaper and pups should be allowed to roam around a small area, a cat toy or two is often fun to watch pups play with at this point, remove the whelping box and just use a sheet with an electric blanket under half of it now. You will need to clean the area every hour as pups will now be urinating and deficating on their own. twice a day, mop the floor underneath. The dam will now nurse the pups while standing. At this age you can soak some small puppy biscuits in water to feed them, this is the beginning of weaning. Only feed 1 tea spoon of soaked food per puppy to start with, put it in one bowl and just let them find it on their own. You'll need to trim the hair around their rectal area, and clean their rear with warm water and an old cloth.
Step 8: 5-7 Week Puppy Care
this week you can up the ammount of soaked puppy food you feed them 2 tablespoons per puppy. This week the pups will decifer a "pecking order" there will be allot more growling, but it's nothing to worry about. Try to find a more heavy weight bowl or the puppies will drag it around and sloosh water everywhere (although the slooshing shouldn't be a problem due to the newspaper) At this age, allow the dam to have an escape from the pups, they only need her about every hour and a half now, so let her come into the rest of the family if she wants, or let her sleep away from the puppies, everyone needs a rest from time to time!! At this age, you can create a small safe area of your garden (caged, no escapes please!) and let the pups out for 10 SUPERVISED minutes a day. any family member should be handling the pups at this point.
This week you can give more puppy food, still soaked but 3-5 tablespoons per pup and the ground meat should be added too (pea sized amount per pup) you can add a little un-soaked food in this week (a very small amount) The dam will only check the pups 4 times a day at this point but will still nurse them when she visits, try to keep her with them for a longer time then she would like, but her leaving them is no big deal. Move the pups into an area with higher people traffic (kitchen, family room etc) at this age, let people visit the pups (friends etc)important for socialicing the pups. This is also a great time for potential owners to visit the pups. Let the dam supervise but keep an eye on her. From this age till 9 weeks, you can bathe them weekly, and should groom them daily.
At this time, reduce the dams food back to the normal amount she was fed prior to pregnancy, and exercise as you did before pregnancy. Wean the pups at this age:
keep the dam away from the pups for 8 hours overnight, and then 4 hours in the morning, then let the pups suckle from her.
Make the next visitsixteen hours later, then 20 hours, then twenty-four hours.
Wait thirty-six hours and allow her back with the pups, then wait another forty-- four hours.
The next time dam see's the pups should be 48 hours later, by now the milk should be dry and she should have stopped producing it. Once the milk has dried up, the dam may play with the pups, discipline them, and go outside with them, she will be teaching them basic manners etc. Stop soaking the puppy food in water unless its absolutely necesary, but they should be eating 100% puppy food at this point.