Helping for whelping | Daily News


Helping for whelping

Whelping is the process of a dog giving birth to puppies, and, luckily, the vast majority of bitches will have their pups without any help from you or anyone else. In fact, you may be able to just sit back and watch the entire process.

Identify dogs near to whelping

A visit to the veterinarian for x-rays or scaning about 60 days into your dog’s pregnancy can be helpful, as it will determine the number of puppies you should expect her to deliver.

Using a thermometer to help you guess when the pups are on the way. Some bitches’ temperature will drop a degree or so below their normal range (101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit) a few hours prior to whelping, while others don’t. Therefore record temperature every two hourly in last two days of pregnancy.

Typically, the first sign that the puppies are soon to come is the bitch’s lack of interest in food about 24 hours before whelping. Following this, she will lick at her vulva and have slight abdominal cramping. As the birthing time approaches, the abdominal contractions become more frequent about every half hour. All of a sudden you may notice a shiny, grayish sac drooping through the vulva; it looks like a gray water balloon. The bitch may even walk around with this hanging out and will often open the “water sac,” letting all the clear fluid run out. The pup(s) is now on the way!

In most cases the pup will be delivered within an hour of the presentation of the “water sac,” since it is an indication that the pup(s) is in the pelvic canal. The first puppy is usually the most difficult for the bitch to pass, and she may strain quite hard and even moan a bit.

Once the pup passes through the pelvic canal and into our world it will be covered in a thin membrane that looks like plastic wrap. If the bitch does not lick and nip this membrane away from the puppy right away, and most do, you should remove it so the pup can breathe. The pup has about six minutes of “grace period” before it must breathe, otherwise brain damage or death will occur. Give the mother several second to remove this membrane; if she doesn’t, you have to do it.

There is no real benefit for the bitch to eat all the afterbirths so discard them if you wish. In fact, some dogs can get digestive upsets from consuming a large number of afterbirths. Ultimately, it’s your choice whether or not you want your bitch to eat the afterbirth.

Now that the membrane is removed and the umbilical cord should be tied about an inch away from the pup by you. Licking and cleaning the new pup is the bitch’s first order of business. If she ignores the pup, you can take a clean towel and rub the puppy dry; this will stimulate it to breath and it will protest a bit.

While cleaning the new pup the bitch will probably start the process over and present another one. Introduce the first pup to the nipple.

In any litter the entire process of whelping can take from two to twenty hours. The bitch may have three pups in the first hour, take a break for three or four hours, have a few more, take a break, have one, take a break and finish up sometime the next day. Have food and water available for her

Whelping problems

However, if a bitch is really straining, with contractions coming every minute or so and no pup is presented within half an hour, get the veterinarian. During the whelping process, it is also common for the mother to vomit, defecate, and urinate frequently.

Sometimes the litter will be so large, either due to the number or size of the pups. That is a problem called Uterine Inertia. In these situations the bitch will fail in weak attempts to pass the pups. She may not even show any visible contractions.

Most common problems post whelping

Most post-whelping problems are seen within the first few hours after whelping.

Milk fever:- Sometimes conditions occur that mean the bitch is unable to feed her pups, and they will have to be hand reared and fed milk replacer. It is important that if this is the case that the puppies receive colostrum to ensure they have a good immune system.

Haemorrhage:- If your bitch experiences a heavy significant flow of blood any time after whelping, call your vet immediately. This is a very serious emergency.

Retained Placenta and Pups:- Signs of retained placentas or puppies may follow whelping immediately, or several days later.

Metritis:- This means inflammation of the uterus (womb), and is usually associated with infection. Uterine infections are emergencies that can be fatal if not treated quickly. Metritis sometimes follows after long or difficult labor.

Mastitis:- This refers to swelling, inflammation, and infection of the mammary gland and is typically caused by three kinds of bacteria: E. coli, Staphylococcus, or Streptococcus. Mastitis is most often seen in dogs during the first two weeks after delivery.

Maternal damage to puppies:- In rare cases, the bitch can cause damage to her own puppies. In some cases, this is accidental - the mother tends to eat the placenta and sometimes goes a bit too far and can cause damage to the puppy’s umbilical area. In other cases, the mother can bite or eat her puppies. Therefore it is wise to observe the mother carefully for the first few days after birth. If she does this, it is not a good idea to breed from her again, and she should be spayed as soon as the vet deems it possible.

(The writer is a Veterinary Surgeon and holds B.V.Sc; M.Sc Poultry Science; Master of Public Administration and Management)

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