Important Information About Dogs Giving Birth

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Important Information About Dogs Giving Birth

by John Edwards

A normal canine pregnancy lasts approximately sixty-three days following conception. Signs of pregnancy include increased appetite, weight and breast size. Dogs with false pregnancy can also exhibit these symptoms, however. Veterinarians can usually diagnose pregnancy through abdominal palpation at twenty-eight days or by using ultrasound or X-ray tests.

Once pregnancy is confirmed, it's time to review special feeding requirements and what to expect before, during and after the birth with your veterinarian. You should also be briefed on how to recognize and respond to an emergency.

A few days before she gives birth (known as whelping), the dog may refuse to eat and start to build her nest, where she plans to have her puppies. Unless you introduce her beforehand to a whelping box, the delivery room may be your closet, the space under your bed or any number of places you would probably consider inappropriate.

A whelping box should be sufficiently large to accommodate a comfortable stretch for the dog. It should have low sides and be placed in a warm, dry/draft-free and secluded place. Place towels or other soft material in the bottom of the whelping box. Fresh newspapers are also fine and may be easily removed and replaced as they become soiled during whelping. Once whelping is completed/ however, you should replace the newspapers with something that provides better footing for the puppies.

Shortly before whelping, the dog's body temperature will drop to 99 degrees or lower (normal temperature for a dog is between l00 and 102.5 degrees). By this time, you should have shaved her belly, where appropriate, to allow the puppies to find the nipples. If she has a long or dense coat, you should also shave and clean the area around her genitals.

Approximately twenty-four hours after her temperature drops, she can be expected to enter the first stage of labor, when the cervix dilates and opens the birth canal for the passage of puppies. At this time, she will pant, strain, appear restless or may perhaps vomit. Vomiting is normal at the onset of labor, but persistent vomiting may be a sign of illness. This stage of labor is followed by actual abdominal straining and production of the puppies and placentas.

Most dogs give birth easily, without the need of human help. Each puppy emerges in its own placental membrane, which must be removed before the puppy can breathe. The mother usually takes care of this by tearing off and eating the membrane, and then severs the umbilical cord. After delivery, she will lick each puppy to stimulate its breathing.

Frequent licking, which continues for three weeks or so, also has another vital function: it stimulates the puppy to excrete waste. Without maternal assistance puppies cannot do so. At the time of birth, new mothers are also busy cleaning their offspring, warming them and allowing them to suckle. It is very important for the puppies to suckle soon after emerging from the womb. Suckling lets them ingest colostrum - a milk-like substance containing maternal antibodies which is produced in the mammary glands just after birth. Colostrum helps the newborn puppies fight infection in their early days while their own immune systems mature.

For more information and advice on dog giving birth visit, a website that specializes in providing tips, advice and resources on dog care and training.

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