Needing info on whelping puppies - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 09:08 AM Thread Starter
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Needing info on whelping puppies

I plan to breed my Vaby in the future and need some information on whelping puppies.

1)What should I be doing while she is ready to give birth? Should I stay out of it or help out somehow?
2)When should I start feeding her more? When she is pregnant or nursing?
3)If one of the puppies die, what has to be done with it?

Before breeding her I will do health testing, x-rays, DNA testing, etc. She has already had a breed survey and been to 2 sieger shows. I just need info on the 3 questions above or anything else I need to know about whelping pups.

Thanks
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 09:11 AM
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there is way way way way more to it than these 3 questions.....more than anyone can write in a simple post....get a good book or get on teh phone and talk to someone experienced....

One thing I will emphasize....do NOT let anyone tell you to give oxytocin without a vet seeing and x-raying the female...and have a good vet on call

Lee

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 11:49 AM
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You should assist someone with whelping first and talk to experienced people. I am concerned that your questions indicate lack of appreciation for the complexity of the process.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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RebelGSD,

I have some experience with animals giving birth as I have had 2 cats give birth to kittens. I know it may be different with GSDs though, so I plan to talk to my vet about it, get a book on it perhaps or talk to someone experienced (as wolfstraum suggested). My breeder gave me some information on this, but I needed to know a little more. Thanks for the suggestions everyone.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RebelGSD View Post
You should assist someone with whelping first and talk to experienced people. I am concerned that your questions indicate lack of appreciation for the complexity of the process.

Maybe... but maybe not. After all, EVERYONE had to have a first time.

And I would dispute that it's "complex". Dogs have been giving birth for millennia.



For the OP:
* generally I monitor VERY closely, but don't interfere unless there is something unusual going on.

* the only "help" I usually give is moving pups already born out of the way as one is in the process of being born. I let momma devote all of her attention to the new pup for a minute or two before putting the other pups back with her. And this is just for my sake - I'm sure momma and the pups don't "need" it.

* 99% of the rest of the help is just making sure momma doesn't lay on a pup. Actually, we do this 24hours for the first week...

* the suggestion that you have a vet "on standby" is a very, VERY good one. I have a very good relationship w/ my vet and usually call her when labor is imminent. That way if something does go wrong, you can get it dealt with right away.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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TxFig, thanks a lot!
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 08:07 PM
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I am not exactly inexperienced with whelping as I have had around a dozen litters in the last 10 years. I keep a couple of good books right next to me while I am whelping. Oh I have a couple that have whelping sections in them, and always while I am waiting, I get the book out so I can refer to it.

Do yourself a huge favor and buy yourself a book or two. They can't tell you everything, but it is nice to have them there. In preparation for the litter, I generally read the sections about pregnancy and whelping through.

While I haven't seen it all, I have done the hands-off approach, and let her turn and and do the job. And then when the puppy is out, I let her clean it, but I generally finish drying the puppy off and weigh it and put a piece of ric rack around its neck, and mark the vital statistics down in the book. Sometimes I wait until the second puppy to do this so that she is busy with the one while I am messing with the other. By puppy 3 or 4 she is beyond caring what I am doing on the table.

But sometimes hands-off doesn't work. Oh you're the cheer-leader, "Come on Puuuush" "Puuush the puppy out" "What a good girl you are, Push the puppy out." And you can open a can of Carnation Condensed Milk, or give her some white ice cream, and that sometimes will get her body contracting again. But sometimes you have to go in. Sometimes you have to check to see if the puppy is there, and just not coming out. You can help. You don't want to pull the puppy out, but you can help her to not lose whatever she has gained, but holding on to the puppy and kind of helping to ease it out. Been there and done that.

And then there is the time when you can feel the puppies head, and she just isn't giving birth to it, and you can't get up in there to help. I had to take Babs in for her last litter. One pup, large but not gigundo when born. But it was not coming out, and I figured I would lose it if I did not act, so I loaded her into the car, and I held her head while the vet and vet tech were able to work the puppy out the other end.

When I had my first litter, I had not talked to experienced breeders. I called the vet to let her know that we were whelping. And I did it on my own with no experience whelping anything. It is not rocket science. But I did read a number of books, and I had the vet on call if I ran into problems.

The biggest thing is to be calm for your bitch. She does not need other dogs running back and forth. She doesn't need children peeking their heads in. She does not need anyone hanging around that doesn't belong there. She needs you. And she needs you to be in control of yourself. To be confident, to be supportive, to be present, to be prepared.

It really is amazing, but they generally know everything they need to do. It is all instinct and they will get down to business and they will clean off the puppy and make it squeak, they will bite the umbilical cord and clean the puppy and let the puppy nurse -- biggie, this helps bring in the milk and can cause the contractions to continue if they have stopped. It is kind of like a shot of oxytocin.

Good luck with your puppies. Get a book. Get a couple.

Heidi Ho, Odie
Joy-Joy, Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by northgashepherds View Post
I plan to breed my Vaby in the future and need some information on whelping puppies.
First things first. You need to have the whelping area set up way in advance. It should be an area way from the hustle and bustle of the house but not completely isolated. The area must be 100% draft-free. You should have a heat lamp ready for when the puppies are born (puppies cannot regulate their body temp for the first 10 days or so - you need to provide a constant temp of around 85-90 degrees F.

The whelping surface should be waterproof and easy to clean and disinfect. During whelping you will need LOTS of towels. These will give the bitch traction for pushing and make it easier for cleanup as each pup is born.

Some people like to use a plastic swimming pool for a whelping box. I don't like them because they do not protect the puppies from being pressed up against the side of the box accidentally by the bitch and suffocated. Either build one or buy one.

I like the design of this one - plenty large, a rail for protecting the puppies from the sides of the box and seats for the humans:




I have, on hand, a scale (for weighing puppies), clamps (for clamping cords), blunt scissors (for cutting cords), Iodine (for disinfecting the ends of the cut cords), a small box with a heating pad in the bottom wrapped in a towel and a towel to cover the top of the box (for moving puppies too as mom starts the next labor - keeps them from getting stepped on) and paper and pen for writing down puppies time of birth, sex, colors, weight, any anomalies and to mark when the placenta passes.

Retained placentas are not common but can be a death sentence to a bitch.

A baby bulb syringe is handy to help remove fluid from the puppies nose and mouth.

Have a couple hand towels ready in case the puppy aspirates fluid and you need to 'swing them' to remove the fluids. It's much easier (and safer) to do this with the puppy wrapped in a small towel.

Also have your cell phone there with the vet (or E-vet) phone number ready to dial.

Have something for marking the puppies. Some people use different colored ribbon, some use non-toxic paint. Make sure to write the puppies 'color' on your documentation. Have enough unique colors ready for a dozen puppies (and hope to HECK you don't have that many).

You will also need a thermometer for taking your bitches temperature. A drop in temp will indicate labor is soon to start.


Now, on to your questions.

Quote:
1)What should I be doing while she is ready to give birth? Should I stay out of it or help out somehow?
I am ALWAYS right there in the thick of it. If my bitch doesn't want my help - I just watch to make sure everything is going ok, weigh and document each pup as it's born, move the puppies to the heat box while Mom is going through active labor and then move them back.


Quote:
2)When should I start feeding her more? When she is pregnant or nursing?
Towards the end of the pregnancy I start giving my bitches extra food. Mine have certain cravings - like wanting extra liver - so I induldge within reason. The REAL need for additional food is after bitch - when she starts nursing.

Quote:
3)If one of the puppies die, what has to be done with it?
That is completely up to you. Some people want to bury the pup, some want to have a necropsy to find out why the pup died.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 08:24 PM
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And more ...

Get a thermometer like this to keep in the whelping box so you can see the temp at all times:



As for hands on or off, more input ...

My Chinese Crested bitch likes to work on the placentas first and THEN tear open the sac and clean the pups. While she is eating the placenta I open the sac and remove it from the puppy. I prefer they get out of the fluid ASAP.

I also don't let her eat too many placentas as they tend to give a bitch loose stools. I would rather not have her running in and out of the whelping box to potty. It's hard on her and the pups. I tend to let her eat every other one.

If puppies aren't sounding off right away - usually squeaks - I take them and use a towel to gently but firmly rub them down. This usually makes them angry and they start crying. Once they do that I put them back with mom. You want to get all that fluid out of their lungs as quickly as possible.

If they don't start crying from that I will lightly (and then with more pressure) pinch their skin until they react.

Once they are out and cleaned up I make sure they get a good nursing on Mom. This gives them the valuable 'pre-milk' and helps stimulate the bitch to have more contractions.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2013, 08:42 PM
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Since we are having a whelping fest, I am going to discuss weighing the puppies. You have to mark them somehow because otherwise, you really can't be sure who's gained what. Yarn frazzles and gets really tight, and I never tried ribbon, but rick rack works really, really good. I agree with having 12 colors. You can use fatter rick rack for boys and skinnier for girls, then you don't need as much variety, but you still need it.

And a kitchen scale. You need to see how many ounces, how much of an ounce your pup is gaining or losing over time. I weigh them twice a day, but look at 24 hour loss/gain. The first day it is not abnormal for a loss, in fact it is common, the dam is providing colostrum and the pups do not seem to gain, will actually lose a litter. But by day two they should start gaining. They may not get back to their birth weight right away, but you need to see progress.

The big thing is that this job is gigantic on the bitch. If she has 5-7 puppies nursing, and they are gaining weight. She is doing good, and you need not trouble her or the puppies with the vet. If the puppies are dropping weight, if the bitch is not eating or drinking, you have a serious emergency. If a puppy is slow go, then you can sometimes interfere a little bit. You can put the little guy up on the back teets. You can make sure he gets his fair share. And sometimes you might decide to supplement. But you really can't do that without marking the weight gain/loss.

I plug it into an excel spreadsheet, and then I know who is gaining and how they are gaining in relation to their littermates. I graph it, and compare it to other litters I have had -- maybe that is the engineer coming out. Anyhow, puppies gaining weight is GOOD, it means your bitch is doing good.

Anyway, the kitchen scale is a huge deal.

Heidi Ho, Odie
Joy-Joy, Bear Cub, Hepsi-Pepsi
Cujo2, Karma Chameleon
Ramona the Pest, Kojak -- who loves you baby?
Tiny Tinnie, Susie's Uzzi, Kaiah -- The Baby Monster.
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