(This post is part of a series of posts, please be sure to read the others to learn all about the Roverchase Service Dog Program puppy raising protocols)
Arrival day is always stressful, no matter how experienced you may be whelping puppies! You hope that all your hard work planning the litter, having the very best veterinary care, conditioning your female prior to and during pregnancy, providing the absolute best nutrition, and having all the best supplies, pays off in an easy whelping. It is normal for whelping to take many hours. Each puppy can take up to 2 hours to arrive and you are always monitoring your mama-dog to make sure she is not in distress. A c-section is always in the back of your mind. Labor and delivery is hard for all species, and dogs are no different. It’s hard on their body, it’s exhausting both physically and mentally, and it takes a long time. It’s absolutely not a risk that should EVER be taken lightly. Fitness and health are incredibly important when considering breeding your dog because whelping is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s so important to have a fit and healthy female to help make the process as uneventful as possible.
Whelping areas need to be calm, quiet, dimly lit, and a place where your mama-dog has had the opportunity to spend lots of time before whelping. She needs to be relaxed and comfortable.
We choose to whelp puppies in our living room. Our dogs live here regularly and it’s a space they are comfortable in. It has a comfy couch recliner right beside the whelping box and nice natural lighting during the day and indirect lighting from lamps when needed. Our other house dogs are put up in another part of the house during whelping so they do not distract or stress the mother. We allow no visitors and watch nice quiet things on TV during the waiting.
The most important thing about whelping puppies is organization! As soon as the puppy is born, we make sure their airways are clear and they are actively breathing and crying, we help the mother clean them, check to make sure all the placenta was delivered, tie off the umbilical cord, dry off the puppy, assign them a collar color, weigh them, and write all the details down in our charting book. We chart birth order, placenta delivered, gender, cleft palate check, collar color, and weight. We also must quickly do a once over of the puppy to check for umbilical injury, cleft palates, and any other abnormalities. We then need to quickly get the puppy to the mother for her to lick and clean them and get them their first and very important meal. Our goal is to have each puppy back with mom and eating less than 5 min after birth.
For this litter (pictured), we did this 10 times in 6.5hrs. Like we said, this is a marathon. It takes focus, skill, and dedication. For this particular litter, they came so quickly I barely had time to get mama dog out to go potty and get her a high energy snack between each puppy. I did not eat, drink, or use the toilet myself through the entire whelping. There was simply no time. I went 72 hours on less than 3 hours of sleep at any given time. This is normal. Your dog’s needs must always come before your own. Her strength and comfort are far more important that yours. This is the commitment you make to her when you choose to breed her.
Here are some photos of a typical whelping for us.