It’s possible you will be sheltering a pregnant bitch. An abortion can be done up to 4 weeks before the due date. In countries like Curacao where there is a large dog surplus it is recommended to visit a vet and discuss the possibility of abortion when taking in a pregnant stray or rescue dog. This will prevent another undesired litter being born. If the bitch is too far along and abortion is no longer possible, the following sections contain important information to help you care for the mother dog. Please see the menu link for information on caring for new born puppies.
Pregnant bitches need more food than non pregnant dogs. The puppies have to grow and they take food from their mother. Unregarded if the mother dog gets enough food or not the puppies will keep on growing inside her. To keep the mother dog healthy or to restore her health she is allowed several meals a day. Three to four portions a day is not irregular. You can also decide to provide unlimited food during this time. Meaning you just keep the bowl filled at all times and the dog chooses when she want to eat. If you are caring for a dog that hasn’t eaten for a long time and is malnourished, start of by feeding several times a day so she doesn’t overeat and upset het intestines. It is recommended to feed a pregnant bitch puppy kibble because this contains more nutrients and is easily digestible.
Create a quiet place for the mother dog to give birth. A place where other dogs can’t approach her. Make sure the environment is clean. This advice always makes me smile because puppies are being born in the strangest places on Curacao and it always turns out well. But the more hygienic the environment the less risk of the mother or her puppies catching an infection.
You can monitor the bitch’s temperature; if it lowers you can expect her to give birth within 6 to 12 hours. At the time when these pictures were taken I allowed the bitch to completely handle the birth. I didn’t help her clean the puppies, I didn’t cut the cords and I didn’t place the pups at the nipple.
Meexy (the mother dog pictured) did everything by herself perfectly; helping her would have been more of a disturbance. I did stay with her during the labor, offered her water and sweetly encouraged her. It is very important to be well prepared for the birth. Read up and make sure you are prepared for what is coming. For example make sure you know how soon after each other puppies are usually born. Discus everything with your veterinarian and have an emergency contact ready in case something does go wrong.
An informative website about the medical aspects of dog pregnancy is dierenkliniek sleeuwijk or Klaver4dieren. (both in Dutch). Also very useful is the drachtkalender (pregnancy calendar, Dutch) where you can monitor what is happening.
But spending a relaxed night surfing the net collecting information shouldn’t offer any trouble. There is a lot of quality information out there about pregnant bitches and giving birth.
Mother dogs that have recently given birth can react differently toward people and other animals. It isn’t uncommon for mothers to be very protective of their newborns; they might react aggressive towards other dogs in the home. Some new mothers resemble lionesses and even you as her care taker have to be careful.
Usually the caretaker can approach the puppies without any trouble. Sometimes when they are newborns it might take a while and you have to be extra patient and extra careful when approaching the mother and her babies. Provide the mother and the puppies with regularity and a clean and quiet environment. Do not let one and all near the puppies and it is advisable to not let them be picked up by anyone else but you, the caretaker. Puppies are not toys, and they need to sleep, a lot. If they are picked up too much they become stressed. Just once a day to weigh them is enough for one day.
You can weigh the pups from the start to make sure they are growing. As long as they grow everyday it is alright. Usually the mother will stay close to the nest especially the first days and the pups will have enough milk. You can check the nipple for milk by squeezing it softly. If a drop emerges she is providing milk. This also takes a bit of time to start up so do not panic if there isn’t a lot of milk. Let nature take its course, and do not speed to the bottle to give them additional food. Keep in touch with your vet if you feel she isn’t providing enough milk. The vet can give her injections to trigger milk supply.
Do you have to provide additional food?
Take the fattest puppies for bottle feeding. Why? This way the mothers milk is left for the smallest puppies. You can even help the smallest ones by placing it on the nipple more often so it can placidly feed. Often the smallest ones don’t have enough strength to keep their spot at the nipple and they are pushed away by the stronger pups. When giving the bottle to the strongest ones they will feel less urge to push the smallest ones away from the nipple. But again do this only when absolutely necessary.
Do not be surprised if mom leaves the puppies for extended periods. There are different types of mother dogs, some are very nursing and others only look up their litter when it is time to feed. Never force the mother dog to feed. Do not hold her, chain her or push her on the ground, nothing of that kind ever! Mother dogs know when their pups need feeding. You can walk her to the nest to remind her but in general she will have everything under control. Sometimes when the mother dog is very young some issues might occur. These dogs are too young to be mothers and they do not know what to do with all the squeaking puppies. But in the ends it usually turns out fine. By daily weighing the puppies you can also monitor these types of cases.
As the puppies grow older the mother will knowingly leave them alone for longer periods of time. She teaches the pups to build frustration. The pups can be snapped off if they try to drink or are prevented from drinking. A natural process which is called weaning. It usually starts at 5 to 6 weeks. This doesn’t mean the mother is frustrated with her pups and they can be moved on to their new owners.
This is the biggest fallacy we make as humans. The snub has a purpose. She prepares her puppies to learn how to deal with frustration. Sometimes the corrections are not tender, but as a mother she knows how to correct her kids. She knows better and carries it out better than any human could. So let her be. For more info on this subject please see the link to our article about puppies that leave the litter too early. Explaining the development of the nervous system and why, in addition to the emotional development, it is important to place the puppies not earlier than 8 weeks.
The puppies move to their new homes.
8 weeks, the time has come. If everything is set every pup has a new home waiting and they are ready to move. Plan the pick-up appointments in the morning this way the puppy has the whole day to get used to their new home and they will enter the first night more settled in. Provide the vaccination book and some of the kibble you feed the pups. Preferable ask the new owners to continue the kibble the pup has had with you. The move may cause the puppies resistance to lower and you want to prevent diarrhea. Explain clearly when the pup has to be dewormed and vaccinated.
Spread the pickups of the puppies over a few days, this way mom is left by herself all at once. This will make the process a bit easier, for mom as well as for the foster family. Provide the mother dog with a lot of distractions to set her mind at ease. Dogs may also suffer from the empty nest syndrome but diversion and exercise usually help to avoid it. Note that you can also gradually decline the amount of food. She doesn’t need that much anymore. Do not forget to schedule an appointment for sterilization. That factory should be closed, because after the nesting period they can fall pregnant again in no time if you’re not careful.
©Rescueracao. Like us @ Facebook
We wanted to share these videos of Meexs puppies being born
The birth of a pupppy
The birth of a puppy, mom biting of the cord
The birth of a puppy, the afterbirth