Your female dog has gone through her pregnancy well and now the time for whelping approaches, a couple of days prior to whelping her pups she will generally stop eating and start to ‘nest’ in her whelping box.
If you are confident enough to read your dog’s temperature then do so, it will probably read below 100 degrees. You will discover that your dog is restless and extremely fidgety and that she will wish to go to the toilet more frequently than normal. Do not be alarmed if she vomits or if she has any episodes of diarrhoea as this is perfectly normal.
You might observe her water bag break; the liquid can take on the appearance of urine as it is usually tinged yellow. Your dog will clean up after herself and it is important that whilst you are on hand for her that you do not make a nuisance of yourself and find yourself in her way.
A sign that her contractions have started is her panting this will mean that whelping is approaching quickly. Most owners that are new to the whole whelping procedure naturally expect their dog to lie down and deliver the puppies in that position but I am afraid your dog will probably have other ideas! She might well lie down but some prefer to circle or stand still when giving birth to their puppies.
When the puppies are born their ‘mum’ will clean them off and also bite off the umbilical cord she will then proceed to vigorously lick the pups as this then stimulates the tiny puppy to breathe but not only this the licking also improves the puppy’s circulation.
Once the pup is free from the umbilical cord the dog will generally consume the placenta as this is rich in nutrients and will not harm her.
Now you might have to take a deep breath and help her out if necessary, if any of the puppies are not removed from their amniotic sac within 30 seconds then you will need to remove them yourself. You might also need to sever the umbilical cord yourself too, using a hemostat is the best way and to simply clamp it off; it will not take long for it to work and then cut the rest of the cord away with sterile scissors.
If a puppy is not breathing well then you may have to rub it fairly vigorously by using a soft towel, during the rubbing process ensure that you keep its face at a slightly lower level than its body; the gravity will help. Make sure that there is no fluid left inside the puppy’s nose or its mouth.
This article has only really touched on the basics of whelping and as always you should seek the assistance of a vet and generally the vet you would have been visiting with your pregnant female dog will be on hand for you when required.
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