Labor & Delivery
Most breeders hope for an uneventful pregnancy that results in a smooth delivery of a healthy, full sized litter. Recognizing the signs and stages of labor can help avert problems and meet these expectations. Intervening early, rather than too late, is important if labor and delivery are not normal.
Some signs that your dog is getting ready to deliver:
- The female dog’s body temperature will drop from the normal 102 degrees to about 98 degrees.
- The female will quit eating. (I like to monitor this one closely. She should begin delivery within 48 hours after she stops eating.)
- Licking in the genital area
- Restlessness & vomiting
These are all normal signs going into labor.
So that brings the next question. How do we know if we have a problem labor? Every labor is unique, but black discharge and excessive amounts of bleeding are serious concerns. If you see any of these, you should consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
After the first puppy is born, your female should have a puppy about every 30 to 60 minutes. Calcium is critical at this point.
Newborn Puppy Care
With a first-time mother especially, we recommend checking the puppies every few hours to make sure they are all suckling and are warm and content. Any puppies that are crying or appear cold should be placed on the inguinal (hind) teats and checked frequently to make sure they are not being pushed away by the other puppies. The teats between the hind legs generally give the most milk.
Make sure puppies are kept warm. Newborn puppies cannot maintain their own body temperature and need to be kept warm! Larger litters (over 8) may need to be split and rotated every two hours.
A colostrum supplement such as ASAP Puppy can be a life saver in situations when a puppy needs more energy, but remember, a puppy must be warm (rectal temp. of at least 95 degrees) before using any supplements.
During the first two weeks of life, before their eyes open, puppies should feed and sleep for at least 90% of the time. If you are weighing the puppies regularly (once a day), there should be a consistent increase in weight. If any of the puppies appear restless or noisy, this may indicate a lack of nourishment or an infection in the female’s milk.
If the mother does not produce milk or her milk is infected, the puppies will not be properly nourished. Puppies that are not being fed enough milk will cry constantly and fail to gain weight. If this occurs, an entire litter can die within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Total milk replacement feeding either via a foster mother or with milk replacer products is necessary in these circumstances. Zeniquin may be helpful to treat infection if given in time. If you suspect infected milk, pull the puppy right away and supplement with milk replacer in a bottle or tube.
Weight loss in a puppy is a cause for concern. Therefore, if it’s a first time mom, keep careful records of your newborn puppies’ weights. Your puppies should gain 10% of their body weight daily. Weighing your puppies can seem like a daunting task, but it is the BEST way to diagnosis potential problems. Weight charts and newborn ID collars can be bought at King’s Pet or your local pet store.