Pregnancy and Whelping
Bitches can whelp (give birth) 55 – 70 days after mating. In general, the expected date of whelping is around 63 days after the last mating. More accurate prediction can be made if your bitch’s cycle is monitored by vaginal smear or blood testing.
Is my bitch about to go into labour ?
Many bitches will hyperventilate, Vomit and the uterus tone increased just before delivery of the pups.
Does my pregnant bitch need an elective Caesarean Section?
The veterinarian will see that the cervix is dilated , if the water has broken and if she is already contracting to help decide.
Does my bitch need an emergency C section ?
If a pup is stuck, if the uterus is not contracting , if the placenta has broken, if the first pup is dead and read on …you veterinarian will decide!
We encourage owners to discuss the whelping with us before the birth and to monitor whelping bitches as follows:
- Let us know weeks in advance of the due date.
- Pregnant bitches should be fed a premium diet but, in general, do not feed bitches extra calcium during pregnancy as this is suspected to increase the risk of hypocalcaemia (low blood calcium) after the birth when the puppies are suckling.
- We recommend a veterinary check up around a week before whelping.
- Start recording the temperature of the bitch 53 days after the last mating 3 times a day at 8-hour intervals and record the temperature.
- The bitch’s rectal temperature generally decreases by about 1 oC from 12 – 24 hours prior to birth. Ideally the bitch should be observed “full time” from the first decrease in temperature until the birth process is complete.
- Observe and record your bitch’s nesting behaviour before the birth.
- If more than 24 hours has passed since the drop in temperature and your bitch has not started straining or given birth to a pup, CALL US!
- If there is a bloody green or black discharge before the birth of the first pup, CALL US!
- If the bitch has strained for more than 30 minutes without delivery of a pup, CALL US!
- If more than 4 hours have passed and you think there is still another pup to come, CALL US!
- After birth the bitch is generally peaceful and cares for the pups.
- If not required earlier, we recommend a routine veterinary check when you believe that all puppies have been delivered.
- After the birth we recommend calcium supplementation to the lactating mother.
- Cut the hair around the nipples and vulva in longhaired bitches, this is more hygienic and facilitates access by the pups.
- Do not supplement calcium during pregnancy but feed premium foods in increased amounts. Calcium should be supplemented during lactation.
- Keep the pups in a warm environment.
- Rear dew claws (if present) should be removed at 3-5 days.
- Puppies’ eyes should open around day 14. If they do not, see us immediately, especially if there is any discharge.
- Ears open about the same time.
- Pups will only pass stool or urine when they are stimulated by the bitch licking their bottoms. If you are hand feeding baby puppies it is important wipe their bottoms with moistened cotton wool to stimulate urination and passing stool.