These brief notes are intended for general guidance to supplement the advice of your Vet.
Pregnancy will lasts for approximately nine weeks.
Diet: a bitch needs to be fit but not overweight and a diet high in protein content is needed from about 4 weeks. Cod Liver Oil, Vionate or mineral supplements such as Calciboost are often added to the diet in order to ensure good bone development in the puppies. Many breeders increase meals to three times a day. The advice of your Vet should always be followed.
Exercise - Normal exercise should be continued for as long as possible.
Medicines (including herbal products) should be avoided during early pregnancy apart from worming (see below) or essential drugs prescribed by the Vet who should always be reminded that the bitch is pregnant.
Wormers should never be given in early pregnancy before the palate has closed. Panacur has been tested and licensed for use from day 40 of pregnancy. The recommended dose should be given daily until two days after whelping and this will greatly reduce the transfer of worms from bitch to puppy and mean that the puppies have the best possible start in life. Numerous trials have shown that Panacur used in this way is highly effective and safe for both bitch and puppies.
The first stage of labour can last for 24 hours or longer and will be succeeded by the second stage with contractions. After a normal birth the bitch will lick the puppy and stimulate its breathing.
Breathing Problems in new-born puppies
If a puppy is born apparantely not breathing or with breathing difficulties Dopram V is invaluable. The puppy should be kept warm, preferably with the use of a heat lamp, the mouth opened, the tongue gently pulled out and the airway checked to see that is it clear and not blocked with mucus. A few drops of Dopram V under the tongue (dose depending upon the breed) will often stimulate normal breathing within seconds. Dopram is not a supplement but a potent medicine similar to that used in premature baby units.
Eclampsia (sometimes called milk fever) - This needs prompt treatment and is caused by a deficiency of Calcium. The bitch may suffer from muscular twitching followed by convulsions. Many vets suggest giving a soluble Calcium supplement such as Calciboost D towards the end of the pregnancy and when feeding young as a safeguard against deficiency as older Calcium supplements may not be so well absorbed into the bloodstream.
Nutrition whilst feeding puppies
Lactating bitches will need plenty of fresh water, and the puppies may need to be supplemented with Milk Replacer if the bitch is struggling to produce enough milk.
Colostrum - This is the fatty first milk which all puppies need at birth. It is not only rich in nutrients but also gives protection against infection.
Colostrum substitutes: These may be essential if the bitch is unable to produce enough herself or if puppies have to be hand-reared. It can also be used as a supplement for puppies and bitches if required. It should be made up strictly in accordance with the instructions provided.
These are replacement milks prepared from modified cows milk for use either to supplement the bitchs milk or to replace it if necessary. All the various brands are excellent but our own Milk Replacer is particularly economical for large breeds or big litters.
For all your whelping needs, and to be prepared for every evantuality we would suggest that owners have the following products to hand:
Scissors (to cut the cord if necessary) we suggest using Standard Curved Scissors with blunt ends to avoid any accidents.
Umbillical Clamps or thread for the cord.
Old soft dry towels A cardboard box and old blanket.
Feeding bottle and suitable teats
The telephone number of the Vet
A suitable wormer
Such as Panacur Puppy Paste or Drontal Puppy Liquid for the puppies who will need very regular treatment in the first few weeks (and a wormer for the bitch as well!) Panacur Liquid can also be used as a value for money wormer which can be used for both the puppies and the bitch. This is VITAL - almost all puppies are infected with Toxocara worms before birth and continually re-infect through the bitchs milk for the first seven weeks of life. ONE worm can product up to 80,000 worm eggs EACH DAY. So each puppy can shed 10 million worm eggs per week which can survive for at least two years to infect other dogs (and children).