Dog Whelping or Birth Guide: Information on the birthing process, including post care of the newborn puppies, possible complications, and much more.
Definition of Birth
The birth of puppies, also called the “whelping” of a litter, involves a complex chain of events medically referred to as “parturition.” Parturition is triggered by an even more complex cascade of hormonal changes that encourages the uterus of a pregnant female to expel its contents. Late in pregnancy, when the hormonal systems of the fetuses are relatively mature, the adrenal glands of the puppies and their mother start secreting lots of corticosteroids (so-called “stress hormones”). This causes the placenta’s that are attached to each fetus by its umbilical cord to release a hormone called prostaglandin F2 alpha (PF2). PF2 causes the mother’s ovaries to stop producing progesterone, a hormone that is essential to sustaining her pregnancy. As a result, the mother’s previously tightly-closed cervix relaxes, softens, opens and allows the puppies to exit through the birth canal and come out into the big bold world.
Breeders should be familiar with the general principles about managing newborns and should be able to recognize the difference between normal and abnormal puppies.Normal neonates won’t need heroic efforts to sustain them. The breeder should make sure that they are breathing normally, check for cleft palates and hare lips, record their birth weight, keep their nursery between 80 and 90 degrees and make sure that they are suckling strongly. All puppies should nurse vigorously within
Postpartum care of the dam is extremely important. As soon as she is finished whelping, all soiled material should be removed from the whelping box and replaced by clean, soft bedding. This should be done several times a day as necessary to keep everyone clean and fresh. The mom should be gently cleaned with a warm damp cloth to remove any evidence of blood, fetal fluids or placental tissues. Good hygiene reduces the risk of
There are three recognized stages of labor in domestic dogs, although some authorities combine stages II and III. Before a dog enters labor, her temperature typically drops. A dog’s temperature normally is somewhere between 101 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. About 24 hours before labor begins, the female’s temperature usually drops below 100 degrees. It can fluxuate for a day or two, but when it stays low – often between 97 and 99.5 degrees – labor
Many breeders rarely encounter whelping problems, while others face them fairly frequently. Breeders of brachycephalic breeds – those with broad skulls and flat faces, like Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers – have problems so often that many routinely schedule cesarean sections before their dogs go into labor. “Dystocia” is the medical term for a difficult birth. Knowledgeable breeders and veterinarians have made some broad generalizations about whelping:Here are some of the more common