A pregnant dog requires a lot of care and maintenance to prevent major problems from occurring. Working with a vet during this period is critical to reducing the chance of troubles. Giving birth is a natural process for dogs and in most cases, the delivery will be smooth and without any complication and your bitch will effortlessly handle it without any help.
However, the proceedings should be monitored as problems can still occur and early intervention could be the difference between life and death.
Whether this is your first time or have experience dealing with a whelping dog, collaborating with your vet can help you and the dog manage the process effectively.
Whelping is simply the process of female dogs giving birth to puppies, usually in a whelping box. Also known as a whelping pen, nesting box, or helping den, a whelping box is designed to safeguard the puppies during birth as well as early life by ensuring they are contained, and safe from the risk of smothering or crushing by the mother, and protected from harsh weather.
A good veterinarian should be there to offer advice from start to finish. But most importantly, a good vet should inform you of the potential problems during and post whelping so that you prepare for any eventuality.
If your bitch is pregnant, it is critical to have knowledge of when the puppies are due as well as how many are expected. A vet should have an x-ray of your dog a week before the due date to give a general approximation of the number of expected puppies. This way, you will know if something goes wrong before they are born.
But despite the possible problems that may necessitate veterinary intervention, most vets prefer the dog to whelp in a familiar environment at home. This is because your dog may be exposed to infectious bacteria and even have a spike in maternal stress in the vet clinic.
As mentioned earlier, whelping should be seamless and without involve a vet, but a good veterinarian should inform you of the potential problems lying ahead as well as causes and treatment.
Some of the potential problems during whelping include but are not limited to:
Dystocia is the most common problem experienced by dogs during whelping. It is a term that refers to when the bitch is not progressing as expected through labor because of an issue. The issue could be:-
The bread: Breeds that are susceptible to this condition include French bulldogs, British bulldogs, and boxers.
The size and shape of the pelvic canal: This is often affected by previous fractured pelvis or breed conformation and can make delivering puppies difficult. The head-to-pelvis ratio is often used to decide the size of the pelvic canal and the larger the head size compared to the pelvis the harder it will be for the mother-to-be dog to deliver puppies.
Size of the puppies: This is a common cause of dystocia and is when the puppy is a bit larger than normal, in which case it will not fit the pelvic canal. This is usually a common occurrence when there is only one pup in the litter.
Developmental flaws: In some cases, the pups may experience development faults that lead to ballooning of certain parts of the body, making birth difficult.
Position of the puppy: It is normal for a puppy to be born tail first or head first. However, you should be very concerned if the pup comes bottom first or sideways because it will stuck in the birth canal.
The demise of the pup in utero: In the unfortunate event that the puppy dies in utero, it can lead to unusual positioning which can impact the contraction of the uterine.
What makes a good vet for whelping?
Here are the minimum requirements for a veterinarian when it comes to whelping:
- Experience: How long has the vet been whelping? Although experience doesn’t always mean quality service, a good vet should have at least five years of whelping experience.
- Lower cases of C-section: Vets used in whelping should have a very low case of litters ending in C-section. By low, we mean below 3%.
- Blend of full-time and part-time members: A good vet team should have a good mixture of full-time and part-time professionals to help with whelping as well as raising the litter.
- Provide the soon-to-be momma dog with a loving and safe environment, including preparing a whelping box.
- Offer round-the-clock care for the whelping dog before her due date, post-labor, and beyond until she is home safely.
- Give the mother and the puppy a dose of deworming medicine (Pyrantel preferably) at two weeks, four weeks, as well as six weeks of age.
- Offer socializing training a couple of times a day to the pups.
- Remove declaws within 48 hours after delivery (this should be optional and the owner should make the call).
- Provide the best home for the puppies.
- Take care of the pups until they are ready to go home.
- Properly administer medications such as ergonovine or oxytocin to enhance uterine contractions when needed.
- Have cutting-edge equipment such as air sterilizer, oxygen concentrator, ultrasound machine, enough canister of oxygen, incubator, oxygen concentrator, and nebulizer just to mention a few.
Breeding a female dog is one of the best experiences of owning a pet. If you don’t have the experience or time to provide the best whelping services possible, you can contact vets used in whelping to provide specialized care to your female dog and its puppies.