Pregnancy and Whelping – After the puppies have all arrived
Once you are certain that all the puppies have arrived clean up the area and put the puppies with their mother in the box. Make sure the mother has had a chance to relieve herself, although it may be difficult to get her to leave the pups. The mother will continue to have a great deal of discharge for the next few weeks. She may also pass some placentas after all the pups have arrived. The discharge during this period may be red, brown, green, or black in color. Watch for any signs of pus in the discharge. Also watch the mother for refusal to eat, fever, or listlessness. Contact your veterinarian immediately if any of these signs are present. Generally, the mother should eat heartily for the next few weeks. If she has three or fewer puppies feed her the regular amount of food. If her litter is larger, feed her as much food as she wants. Divide her food into several meals, rather than giving her one huge meal a day. It is also very important that she have free access to fresh water at all times, as this helps maintain milk production. Puppies are unable to maintain their own body temperature during the first week of life. The mother’s mammary glands provide the heat, as well as the food, for the puppies. They will cuddle up to her or “dog pile” on each other when they are not nursing. Keep the puppy area warm and draft free. A room temperature of about seventy degrees should be sufficient. If the mother is in the box with the pups, there is no need to use a heat lamp or heating pad, in fact these may confuse the puppies about where to go to get food, make the mother very uncomfortable, or overheat the pups. If the pups are in a large area without their mother, then a carefully placed heat lamp may be helpful in cold weather. Ask your veterinarian for details. As previously noted, it is very important to monitor the puppies’ weights on a daily basis. Sometimes the pups may lose a tiny bit of weight the first day, but after that they should make steady gains. Weight loss or lack of weight are important signs that the puppy is not doing well. Make certain that each puppy is getting sufficient time at a nipple several times throughout the day. Note if any pups are not able to hold onto the nipple, are pushed away from the mother on a regular basis, or have milk coming out of their noses. Check their umbilical areas for signs of redness or infection. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs. The mother should stimulate the puppies to eliminate on a regular basis by licking them vigorously. If she does not lick them, it is important that you stimulate them. Take a cotton ball or washcloth and soak it in warm water. Squeeze out the extra water and gently wipe the area from under the puppy’s tail to its tummy. Make sure to include the penis for the boy puppies. As the pups get older the mother will usually continue to lick them, as well as lick up any puddles or piles they leave.