Most of the time delivering puppies is incident-free and pretty simple, but sometimes things can get complicated. We always recommend having someone around that has delivered puppies before. You definitely need to talk to your Albuquerque vet about what to expect when delivering and what to watch out for. The biggest thing to remember is that the mama dog knows what to due and you should trust her instincts.
Signs Your Dog is Going into Labor
It has been roughly 64 days and you know your dog is likely ready to give birth. Here are some signs to look for that will let you know she is ready.
- She may become restless. This means she will get up and sit down and move around a lot.
- She will stop eating 24 hours before labor.
- She may start pawing at her bedding to “prepare her nest”.
- She will lick her vulva.
- She may vomit
- She may have mucus discharge.
If you notice these signs you want to make sure you have your supplies on hand:
- Whelping box (see our blog post on setting up your whelping box)
- A laundry basket with a heating pad and blanket
- Clean towels
- Sterile scissors
- Rubber gloves
- antiseptic solution or iodine
- dental floss
Delivering the Puppies
You have your supplies on hand, You are now ready to deliver those puppies. The first thing you will see is a grayish colored sac drop out of her vulva. When you see that you know a puppy is coming. Usually, the first puppy will appear within an hour of the sac dropping. If more than an hour has passed after she has dropped the sac and no puppy has arrived, you should call your veterinarian to find out if you need to bring her into the clinic. After the first puppy is born the other puppies will usually come fairly quickly. Most of the time you will have a puppy coming every 30 minutes but it can take up to 2 hours. This is why it is good to be in contact with your vet so they can help you identify if your mama dog is having difficulty with the labor,
When Labor Goes Wrong
The mama dog is going to do most of the work but there are some things you should look for to determine if she needs your help.
- She does not remove the membrane. Puppies are born inside a membrane. This needs to be removed within 6 minutes or the puppy will suffocate. The mama dog should do this immediately. If she does not, you will have to remove the membrane, To remove the membrane you just need to rub the puppy with a towel. The membrane will come off easily.
- She does not lick her puppy. To stimulate breathing the mama dog will lick her puppy. This gets the puppy breathing and crying. If she does not do this you will want to rub the puppy robustly with a towel until it starts to breathe on its own.
- She doesn’t chew the umbilical cord. The mama dog should chew through the umbilical cord of each puppy. If she does not do this you will have to cut the cord. Use your sterilized scissors to cut the cord. You want to leave an inch of the cord on the puppy’s belly. You will use dental floss to tie the cord. TIP: It is better to crush the cord than get a clean cut. This will reduce the bleeding. After you tie off the cord you want to dip the end of the cord in your iodine to sterilize it.
- She continues to have contractions after all the puppies are delivered. Knowing how many puppies your mama dog is having is important. This way you can know when she is done giving birth, If you are not sure, you can ask your vet what the maximum number of puppies your breed of dog will have. Another way to figure that out is to count the number of nipples she has. A dog typically won’t have more puppies than she has nipples. If you see that your mama dog is having contractions for longer than two hours but no puppies are coming, or you know that all the puppies have been delivered, you need to call the vet.
After the Birth
The first thing after the birth is afterbirth, aka, the placenta. After each puppy is born a placenta should be passed. It should come out within 15 minutes of the puppy being born. It will look like a blob with a blackish-greenish color. You can throw out the placenta. If the mama dog eats the placenta that is not a problem. Some people recommend not letting her eat more than 2 but there are different thoughts on this. Talk to your vet about what is considered ok. Make sure that you have an equal number of afterbirths and puppies, so you will want to keep count. Sometimes the placenta does not come out after the puppy. She should push out any remaining placenta after all the puppies are born. However, if she does not then that placenta will need to be removed by your vet because it will make her sick. This is why it is important to keep count so when it is all said and done you can make sure that all puppies and all placentae came out.
After the puppy is born put it in the basket with the heating pad and blanket. The mama will be looking for her pup so make sure that she can see it in the basket. The puppies will want to nurse immediately after birth, but keeping them in the basket until the birthing is finished will keep them safe from getting crushed by her.
After all the puppies are born you need to take the mama dog outside to pee, otherwise, she will pee in the whelping box. If she does pee in the whelping box, it is not a big deal, just change out the blankets and puppy pad for a new one so the box is clean again. After she has peed, bring in the puppies so they can begin nursing. You should watch to make sure all the puppies are nursing and that they are getting enough milk. If she rejects a puppy or can’t provide enough milk then you will need to do it. You can tell if the puppies are not getting enough milk because they will be complaining, restless, and sucking at everything. If you need to feed them you can get puppy bottles and milk at a pet supply store. Do not use milk from your fridge, it is not the right kind of milk. They need puppy formula which has the proper supplements.
If you notice the puppies are lethargic but seem to be well-fed, then they are cold. Put them back in the basket with the heating pad to warm them up. During the first few days of their life, you want to see them steadily gaining weight. The best way to tell if they are is by weighing them every day, We suggest using a food scale as that will be more accurate than most human scales. Many people tie ribbons of different colors on the puppies so they can tell them apart and track their weight.
Time for the Vet
Within 48 hours of giving birth, you need to take the mama dog to the vet. She needs to be checked for complications or injuries.
When your puppies are 8 weeks old you need to bring them in to start their series of puppy booster vaccinations.
So after all that…CONGRATULATIONS! Whelping is an exciting time for a dog owner. I am sure you will love every one of your brand new puppies.