Once your dog gives birth to puppies you will need to start looking after them

Once your dog gives birth to puppies you will need to start looking after them.  Taking care of puppies is not always as easy as it seems, and a lot of responsibility will fall upon you as the breeder.  Your responsibility does not end with the female giving birth; in fact your job is only just beginning.

You will need to make preparations prior to the birth; and these include providing a whelping box which is clean and sturdy.  Try to incorporate some kind of ‘pig rail’ to stop the mother accidentally crushing the puppies.  The box should be large enough for the mother to move around comfortably, but on the other hand it should not be so large that the puppies are in danger of getting lost in it.  Use a box which is six inches longer and a foot wider than the size of the bitch.

When you have chosen a suitable box you will need to line it with suitable materials.  Take some sheets of newspaper and plastic and arrange them in layers in the box, starting with several sheets of newspaper followed by some plastic.  Continue in this way until you have 4 – 5 layers of newspaper and plastic.

Breeders have their own preferences when it comes to arranging the whelping box.  Some avoid using newspaper or plastic because the puppies can easily become soiled with print or feces.  Some breeders like to use a synthetic material on top of the absorbent layers, whilst others prefer to use 6 inches of pine shavings.  Whichever materials you decide to use you will have to make sure the box remains as clean as possible.  It is important to remove any feces you see in the box.

Newborn pups need to be kept warm and comfortable.  You will need to ensure the temperature in the whelping box starts off at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and then in the following days decrease the temperate by around 2 degrees.  Do not attempt to feed a pup which appears to be chilled.  Remove it from the box and try warming it under your shirt or armpit, or alternatively put it in a separate whelping box with a heating pad.  Cover the pup with a towel but make sure it does not get too hot.  Look at the pups’ behaviour in the whelping box.  If they are cold they will cry and clump together, if they are hot they will separate and look for shade.

If the mother produces a large litter you will need to provide extra food to ensure the survival of all the pups.  You can buy supplemental milk for the pups, and arrange to feed them in shifts.  You can refer to specialist milk recipes for advice; and you will also need to buy extra feeding bottles.  If the pups are unable to suckle you will need to tube-feed them.

Taking care of pups requires a lot of time and effort, especially when there are a lot of them.  Make sure you have all the information you require to help them survive at this most critical time in their lives.  Help your bitch to take care of her pups.

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