Litter of newborn pups born to T'Aguhu Uzh Dzmerr, Owner HS Riley
WHELPING A LITTER
After preparing to breed, the next step is to prepare for whelping. Typically in our breed we do not have serious whelping issues and mothers tend to whelp without any assistance. Even still, it's best to plan for all situations, just in case, and always consult with your vet once you have confirmed pregnancy.
The single best advice is to be sure the mother has a suitable, hard surface area for whelping. Our adults usually sleep anywhere outdoors they wish and while that's great for every day life it may not be the best option for a whelping mother. Our Gamprs love to dig holes not only for staying cool but also to prepare for delivering puppies. The danger is that when the mother lays with her puppies she may lay on top of some, accidentally suffocating them. That is not something that will definitely happen each time and it doesn't mean if it happens that she is a bad mother. However, if a dam is left to whelp on her own, and not restricted to an area with a hard surface, losses may occur. If your farm does not have a suitable hard surface delivery area, consider making a whelping box with pig rails.
Here are some other items you may want gather ahead of time:
Premier One Brand heat lamp(s) and bulbs
Indoor/Outdoor thermometer for monitoring the whelping room
Rectal thermometer for monitoring temperatures
Small scale to weigh puppies
Puppy chart, pen for recording weights and temperatures
Multiple color nail polishes to track identity of puppies
Puppy pads, newspaper, clean towels and/or blankets to line the whelping area and for cleaning puppies
Remnant carpet pieces, tarp or blanket to deliver on that can be washed or thrown away
Latex gloves for biosecurity
Iodine or Betadine to clean the umbilical cords
Unwaxed dental floss to tie the umbilical cord
Alcohol to clean utensils
Scissors to cut the umbilical cord
Vaseline to use as lubricant
Calsorb gel calcium supplement for mothers showing deficiency, only given when instructed by your vet
Glucose for puppies, only given when instructed to do so by your vet
Paper towels for cleaning
Trash can and liners for quick clean up
A 6x6 whelping box with pig rails, on top of a tarp and new, remnant carpet, disinfected dishes, Premier One heat lamps and a chair for observing.
When whelping begins, you may notice your Gampr's abdomen tense up periodically with contractions. The abdomen will feel hard when contracting and relaxed once the contraction is over. Gamprs can be in labor for two to three hours up to a day or longer depending on the individual dog and the size of the litter. She may have them quickly or it may be an hour or so in between pups.
The amniotic sac begins to protrude as each pup makes its way through the birth canal. Sometimes the sac will rupture as it is passed or she will open the sac. For the most part you are just there for your girl and monitoring for any signs of distress. Puppies can be born head or tail first; both are normal. The dam will clean the puppy's face, stimulating the puppy to breathe and clearing away fluids. The dam should rest and clean her puppies in between each delivery and repeat the process of panting and pushing when she's soon to deliver another.
Whelping problems can include a pup that's too large, improper positioning of a puppy, dead puppies which may fail to trigger whelping due to no increase in cortisol, or a very small litter resulting in uterine inertia or fetal oversize dystocia. Each dog is different and what may be normal for one may be an emergency for others so please always call your vet to discuss your Gampr's situation and labor progression.
After delivery, your Gampr will need a high calorie diet to keep up with the development of nursing puppies and to properly recover from whelping. Dogs are susceptible to certain illnesses after giving birth, metritis (inflammation of the uterus), eclampsia, and mastitis (inflammation of teats). If your dam displays any unusual behavior contact your veterinarian immediately.
After ensuring each new puppy is healthy and breathing sound, it is a good idea to record the birth weight, then once a week thereafter.
During the first three weeks the puppies are usually nursing or sleeping. They should be monitored many times daily to be sure they are getting milk and gaining weight weekly. If the pups are in a temperature controlled environment, somewhere between 75 and 85 degrees is sufficient and will encourage the mother to lay flat, drink more and it keeps puppies from becoming chilled.
After the birthing process, clean up the mother as much as possible without upsetting her. Remove any of the soiled newspaper or bedding from her whelping area. Once puppies reach about 2 weeks old, using a pair of regular nail clippers, trim the sharp points off of each pup's nails. Otherwise, just monitor puppies weights and ensure they are all getting milk. If any of the puppies appear restless or noisy, this may indicate a lack of nourishment or infection and an immediate call to the vet is in order.
At around 3 to 4 weeks of age, the puppies should start eating very soft, wet food in addition to nursing. At 4 weeks old, puppies should have free access to water. At 6 weeks old the puppies will start being able to chew and digest harder, drier food like plain kibble. During this time they will really begin to explore their surroundings, mimicking their mother and developing personalities. Puppies do well on three meals a day until 6 months old, since it's better to eat frequent, small meals vs one large meal a day. After turning 6 months old it's ok to switch to two meals a day if that fits your schedule best.
The same litter as above, at 5 weeks old, eating Nutro large breed puppy kibble soaked in goat milk. Owner, HS Riley