The Breeding, Delivery & After Care

The Havanese Club of America has provided breeders with a lot information regarding the breeding, delivery and aftercare. Click the Paws to learn more!

Breeding References2024-04-15T08:40:48-04:00
  • Battaglia, C (1986) Breeding Better Dogs, 3rd ed. GA: Susan Hunter
  • Craige, P (1997) Born to Win. Wilsonvile, OR: Doral
  • Dawkins, R (1976). The Selfish Gene. NY: Oxford University Press
  • Finder Harris, Beth Breeding a Litter – The Complete Book of Prenatal & Postnatal Care. ST: Publisher
  • Grossman, A (1983). The Standard Book of Dog Breeding. VA: Denlinger
  • Hastings, P. & Rouse, E. (2004) – Another Piece of the Puzzle: Puppy Development, OR, Dogfolk Enterprises
  • Holst, P Canine Reproduction – The Breeder’s Guide, 2nd ed. ST: Publisher
  • Lee, Muriel P The Whelping & Rearing of Puppies: A Complete & Practical Guide. ST: Publisher
  • Onstott, K (1980). The New Art of Breeding Better Dogs, 14th ed. NY: Howell
  • Rice, Dan The Complete Book of Dog Breeding ST: Publisher
  • Savant-Harris , Myra. Puppy Intensive Care – A Breeder’s Guide to Care of Newborn Puppies. ST: Publisher
  • Savant-Harris , Myra. Canine Reproduction and Whelping – A Dog Breeder’s Guide ST: Publisher
  • Seranne, A (1980). The Joy of Breeding Your Own Show Dog. NY: Howell
  • Walkowicz, C & Wilcox, B (1994). Successful Dog Breeding, 2nd ed. NY: Macmillan
  • Whitney, LF (1988) How To Breed Dogs, 13th ed. NY: Howell
  • Willis, MB (1989) Genetics and the Dog. NY: Howell Willis, MB (1992) Practical Genetics for Dog Breeders. NY: Howell
Forms and Records2024-04-15T08:25:37-04:00

Click on the links below to download the forms and puppy book. Forms are in PDF format.

The Pregnancy2024-05-16T17:10:30-04:00

Nutrition

At about three weeks from the date of mating, morning sickness might occur due to hormonal changes or stretching and distension of the uterus. The dam may appear a bit apathetic. She may be off her feed for a while and vomit from time to time. Feeding the dam several meals spaced throughout the day might help.

At four weeks, start to increase the dams food ration. Don’t overfeed; excessive weight gain should be avoided.

Evidence of Pregnancy

An experienced veterinarian or breeder can detect fetuses by palpating the dam’s abdomen about 26 to 30 days after breeding has taken place. At this stage the embryos are the size of almonds and are distributed symmetrically along the dam’s uterine horns. After day 30 the embryos are difficult to palpate individually as they enlarge and become surrounded by fluids.

After day 30 an ultrasound can be used to confirm pregnancy, however ultrasound will not result in an accurate puppy count.

Movement of the puppies can often be felt by day 55 after breeding. The pups are often quiet while the dam is active, and can be felt more easily when the dam is at rest. Again, an accurate puppy count cannot be determined by feeling the puppies movement.

Radiographs can accurately indicate the number of puppies after day 55 of breeding. The position of the puppies can also be determined. Prior to day 55 the puppies’ bones may not have calcified, and thus may not show up on x-rays. As with all procedures performed on the dam, consult your veterinarian regarding the safety of these measures.

There are other indications that your dam is pregnant, however they can also occur in dams experiencing a false pregnancy. These signs include an enlarged abdomen, enlarged nipples containing fluid, morning sickness, loss of hair on her abdomen and around her nipples, vaginal discharge and nesting behavior.

An example of a pregnancy calendar: 60 DAYS TO PUPPIES—THE CANINE PREGNANCY CALENDAR

Preparing for Delivery2024-04-15T07:58:58-04:00

Know Your Vet

In preparing for the birth of a litter of puppies, it is invaluable to be established and comfortable with a veterinarian well before the whelping due date. Often this can be done during an appointment relating to the pregnancy such as the initial pre-breeding examination of the dam, progesterone testing, sonogram to determine pregnancy, or an X-ray of the bitch to determine the number, size and orientation of the puppies done sometime after the 55th day of pregnancy. A record of the vet’s office hours, the emergency clinics they recommend, along with directions and phone numbers, and any additional special information the vet may have to help with the whelping the litter is a valuable addition to the whelping supplies.

Whelping Supplies

Here is a list of things that are valuable to have on hand while whelping pups.

  • Clamps (for cords as needed)
  • Child’s safely scissors (to cut cord, dull is better!)
  • Baby suction bulb (to remove mucus from newborns mouth , then nose as needed)
  • Dental floss, unwaxed (to tie off cords as needed)
  • Towels! Towels! Towels!
  • Small towels (to use to grip pups as needed)
  • Paper towels to clean up messes
  • Trash bags to contain messes – one for trash, one for used towels
  • Paper/forms to record births and make notes
  • Pens/pencils
  • Scale for birth weights
  • Clock/watch for timing
  • Alcohol wipes to clean clamps or scissors between pups
  • 4×4 gauze pads to help grip pups if stuck
  • KY jelly (for lubrication in case of stuck pup)
  • Latex gloves
  • Betadine ( for cord care)
  • Nutrical or Karo syrup (for quick sugar to mom or pups as needed)
  • Favorite whelping books
  • Phone numbers of friends and vets for emergencies
  • Phone
  • Books to read for waiting
  • Car gassed up and ready to go in the event a trip to the emergency vet is necessary

Whelping Area

Whelping boxes can be almost anything. The important point is that it is easy to clean, draft free, comfortable for mom and easy to keep warm.

There are many designs available if you wish to make your own. You can buy many different types of whelping boxes on the Internet. We happen to use a concrete mixing container that is about 3ft X 2ft x 1ft high. It is heavy duty plastic and very cheap at the hardware stores – easy to wash and sturdy enough to reuse. Best is that it fits into our 3ft x 3ft puppy pen. Some breeders use plastic wading pools and even the bottoms of larger crates.

Inside the box it is important to place several layers of newspaper to absorb the fluids of the birthing process and cover it with towels. We have also used rubber-backed bath mats for better traction for Mom while she is delivering and to give the pups a good footing. Whatever you use you will need plenty so that you can change the bedding frequently to keep the litter clean and dry.

A heat source is also necessary for the box. Some breeders prefer an over head heat source over a heating pad. There are many options from the catalogs. Look at reptile heaters, a ceramic heat emitter which throws no light, a red light in a special holder, and brooder lights are also something to check out. But please remember to only heat about half the box, leave room for the puppies to get away from the heat if they are too hot.

There is a heater called a whelping nest. The nest heats as needed and has its own temperature control. Overheating causes dehydration. Humidity is also important for the pups. A cool vaporizer in the room the pups are in but away from the box helps a lot.

A room thermometer in the box but not on the heat source is needed. It is even better if you can find one that also measures the humidity. The box should be maintained at about 80 degrees since the pups cannot regulate their own temperature until about three weeks of age.

Many breeders incorporate the use of puppy rails around the sides of the box in order to give a newborn a safe “path” around the sides in case mom lays to close and traps him. Sometimes referred to as “pig rails” they can easily be made from PVC piping and attached about 2-3 inches from the floor of the box.

The box should be placed in the spot you want it to stay about a week before whelping. A quiet part of the house away from a lot of activity is best. Remember that Mom will be looking for dim, warm and isolated when she has her pups. (Think Closet!) Make it also a comfortable area for yourself since you will be spending time with Mom and helping her with the whelping.

Temporary Puppy Box

You will need to create a temporary place for the litter to stay while Mom is whelping the next puppy. A 24inch by 18-inch plastic box with a lid (such as a Rubbermaid box) can be ideal. It can double as a storage box for your whelping supplies after the pups no longer need it.

Fit a small heating pad without the automatic shut off into half of the box, run the cord out through a hole you will make in a corner of the box. Cover this with a bolster type crate mat to protect the pups from cold edges. As an alternative, use a microwavable heating pad. Test the temperature to make sure it is not too hot before using it to hold the puppies.

This is where you will place the pups while Mom is whelping the rest of the pups, and it is also a great way to transport the pups to and from the vet or any other time you will need to keep them warm away from Mom. Pre-warm the box before the litter starts to arrive and also before you take them away from mom to travel. At the vets you can ask to plug you box in and keep it warm that way for the trip home. Cold or chilled pups do not survive!

The Birth2024-04-15T08:02:18-04:00

This information is based on the experience of the author, is provided to breeders for informational purposes only. It should not be construed to be endorsement by HCA of any particular technique, method or recommendation. Always seek and follow the advice of your vet first.

Normal Deliveries

The day is almost upon us!

Mom’s temp is down below her normal pregnancy Temp of 100. She is off her food (maybe!) looks like she has to potty a bit more and has a hard time finding a good spot to relax in.

Hopefully the whelping box is out and in “her” place, she has been shown the box and it is cozy, preferably warm and in a dim area away from the busy end of the house. She has lots of towels or newspapers to “nest” in and make comfy for the new babies. Havanese Mom’s are not unlike us, some need to be in the family’’ arms , some rather be alone. Don’t let Mom out to potty alone! Take a flashlight at night and walk her on a leash only!

She is in early labor or stage one. The uterus is starting to contract, the cervix is starting to open she is feeling rather crammpy. She may have some clear to slightly cloudy discharge from the vulva but as long as it is not colored or foul smelling it is normal lubricant for the birth.

Mom should have some milk in her nipples (colostrum is the first milk and very important that newborns get it in the first 12-24 hours), but it is not totally unknown that the milk comes in shortly after birth. Her vulva should feel rather soft like the texture of our lips.

The whelping kit is out and ready to go! (hint: for those of us that work and whelp puppies, a “family emergency” works better than “my dog is having puppies” when you call in at work!)

Plug in the heating pad and warm up the receiving box. Put on the coffee and call a friend all the while keeping Mom in sight.

Now we will pretend that she is starting to deliver her pups and you have not been up for three days waiting for this very moment. She is nesting vigorously, you can see the contractions on her belly and she is starting to strain with some tail elevation. Pups are almost here!

Stage two: It is often that you will see a “bubble” at the vulva before a pup – that is the amniotic sack, one or two more good pushes should do it and we have our first puppy. Head or feet presentations are both normal and if the puppy is in the correct position (belly down) then it will be delivered without difficulty.

What we must do to help if we are needed is to clear the sack from the face and aspirate fluids with the bulb syringe from the babies mouth first then the nose. There is some discussion now on the efficacy of the “puppy swing” where you hold the pup securely in both hands head down and give a firm swing downward to clear the passages of fluid, the new idea being that we may be introducing more stomach fluids into the air passages, and also there is discussion that this may cause injuries to the brain.

Let Mom cut the cord with her teeth as long as she is not a frantic chewer. If for some reason you need to cut the cord yourself cut it at least ¾ inches long clamp on both sides of were you want to cut and use a dull scissors to prevent bleeding. Use the clamps to compress the cord, imitating moms chewing and tearing it. You can also use a short length of unwaxed dental floss to tie onto the baby side of the cord, cut the edges short so mom does not fuss with it. A slight dab of betadine on the end of the cord is useful to help keep bacteria out and dry it.

Stage three: The placenta should always follow the pup and each one needs to be counted. One for each pup needs to be recorded. Some feel that it is Mother Nature’s way to eat all of the placentas, that hormones and nutrients are part of the birth process and it helps to stimulate the milk and more contractions. You can allow her all of the placentas (you may get some loose stools from the high protein) or just a few, whatever you are comfortable with and depending on the number of pups. But remember you need to have accounted for one placenta per pup by the end of whelping and if not call your vet! On occasion a placenta is not delivered with a pup. Watch for it with the birth of the next puppy, try to catch the umbilical cord when the pup is being delivered and it looks like it may tear, use a Kelly clamp to keep it from pulling back into the vulva. A gentle pull may bring it out without any difficulty.

Be sure to record the times of birth, the placenta accounted for or not, weight of pups, marking of pups and any complication that happened at the birth for future reference. If the vets need to know any of this information, I will promise you will not remember it.

Once the baby and placenta are safely delivered and mom has cleaned the baby, be sure to rub the baby as dry as possible and KEEP IT WARM – chilling is the greatest killer of healthy pups. If mom is resting between babies be sure to get the pup on a nipple to nurse after you have checked the roof of the mouth to be sure the pup does not have a cleft palate. Check to be sure the baby is actually nursing and has suction going. Remove the baby to the warming box when mom looks like she is ready to deliver again to prevent the pup from getting injured while mom is busy with the next puppy.

When all of the pups have been delivered and all of the placentas are accounted for it is time to clean up the box and make a nice dry bed for mom and pups. Notify your vet of the delivery and as per his advice take the pups and mom into the clinic to make sure all is well. Occasionally an experienced breeder will upon the advice of their vet give the oxytocin themselves to the moms to be sure all of the products of conception are expelled. This also helps to stimulate the milk production.

If you do take the litter and bitch to the vet’s office be sure to keep them away from all other animals and to keep the babies warm at all times. A portable heat source is required, check the temperature to be sure it is not too hot or cold. If you choose to remove Dew claws, the procedure can be done around day 3-5 check with your vet the day they are born to set up that appointment.

You will probably not get much sleep the first week. The pups should sleep near enough that if you hear any squeals you can get to them, as moms have been known to lie on the babies out of exhaustion or inexperience. Some pups appear to be nursing but are not, so you must check to be sure that all are lined up at the milk bar and actually getting some milk. If it is slightly difficult to pull the baby from the nipple they are probably well latched on if the babe slides off easily they may not be getting milk.

Keep the whelping area warm! Chilled babies will be dead babies.

Congratulations on a job well done!!

Difficult Deliveries

Most of the time, all goes well with our bitch’s whelping, but on occasion things happen that we need to be aware of.

When you read this page I hope that you understand that your vet’s advice precedes anything that is written here. I am not a vet, but a breeder. What works for me may not work for you. Follow the advice of the professional.

Stay well within your comfort zone because, after all, it is the lives of your puppies and your bitch that can be at stake here. These are emergency or low-level assistance suggestions. If at anytime your bitch or pups are in distress, immediately call your vet or take your bitch to the nearest vet emergency facility.

No matter what happens be guided by your gut feelings.

Dystocia, difficult or slow delivery:

Caused by:

  • oversized puppy
  • a puppy is mal-positioned
  • two puppies are presenting at the same time

Puppy positions: Normal delivery of pups can be a headfirst or feet first position (breech). As long as the pup’s abdomen is facing down (towards the abdomen of the mother) and fairly equal between both sides of the moms legs all should be well. Occasionally there is a pup presenting that is upside down or sideways. This can be near impossible for the bitch to birth without assistance. First call your vet for instructions. If unable to get the vet on the phone rapidly you may attempt to move the pup into a better position by using a sterile lubricant, (such as KY jelly), on clean fingers inserted into the vagina on either side of the pup and attempt to rotate the pup into a more favorable position. If possible you can even attempt to push the pup back into the vagina slightly to turn the pup.

Pup not progressing but good position: If possible, and you can get enough of the pup in your fingers, it is a good idea to get a piece of gauze to wrap around the portion of the pup extending from the bitch. As she has a contraction you can gently pull the pup DOWN from the tail to the feet. Hold onto the pup between contractions so that it does not go back into the vagina. Do not pull on single legs! Attempt to get your fingers around the body of the pup. Sometimes you will have to actually attempt to roll the vulva up and back from the pup to ease it out. Sometimes it helps to hold the bitch up by her front legs to let gravity assist. Occasionally, a second person may be helpful to put some slight pressure on the upper abdomen to help move things down gently. If the pup is breech it is very important to get the pup out as fast as possible and suction the fluids out of the throat and nose. If the pup is presenting in a head first position, you may have to break the membranes from the face before the pup is totally born to allow for breathing when it is finally delivered. Pups are at their most vulnerable when in the birthing canal.

Two pups presenting at the same time Rare) Elevating the hindquarters may move the second of the two puppies’ back into the uterus and allow more room for the first puppy to proceed.

In the case of fetal distress (heart rate below 150 if doppler available) or complication continue. However, there are differing opinions as to the value of this service.

Again try to reach your vet or if not available got to the nearest vet emergency facility. You bitch may need further attention and/or a Cesarean Section.

Uterine inertia – Lack of productive contractions. Uterine inertia may be a primary condition. Where hormones are not released to stimulate the muscles of the uterus or the muscles fail to respond to normal delivery hormones. This can also be the case with single pup deliveries, not enough hormones for good uterine response. Uterine inertia may be a secondary condition, where the muscles of the uterus become tired, usually due to a long or difficult delivery.

The signs of uterine inertia vary. Signs of primary inertia include a normal animal and lack of onset of birth at the end of the normal pregnancy. In this case the bitch will appear bright and alert. The cervix may or may not be dilated. If the cervix is dilated, discharge may be present at the vulva. Signs of secondary uterine inertia include delivery of one or more puppies f ollowed by lack of delivery. In this case, normal or prolonged deliveries are followed by labor stopping, even though more fetuses are in the uterus.

Uterine inertia is diagnosed by good medical history, including breeding dates, and a though physical exam. Pregnant animals should be monitored and the delivery time should be estimate. If more than 24 hours have elapsed since the drop in rectal temperature or if serum progesterone has been low for 36 hours (signs of impending delivery) and labor has not started, a presumptive diagnosis of uterine inertia can be made. Radiographs (X-Rays) can be used to determine the number and position of the fetuses; recording ultrasonic waves can use Ultrasound (visualization of fetuses in the uterus by recording ultrasonic waves) to assess the condition of the fetuses. Blood testing may reveal how low concentrations of Calcium and glucose in dogs with secondary inertia.

The treatment of uterine inertia depends on the type of inertia, the condition of the mother, and the condition of the fetuses. Medical treatment may include the administration of hormone (oxytocin) to induce more effective uterine contractions. Calcium and glucose may be given if needed. In some cases, medical treatment is not a possibility or if the animal does not respond to medical treatment, cesarean section is indicated.

The prognosis for the animals with uterine inertia generally is good if the treatment is started quickly. The prognosis for the survival of the puppies is good if the mother is taken to the veterinarian in a timely fashion. Both the mother and the litter may die if appropriate veterinary care is delayed.

A word about Oxytocin: There are situations in which the veterinarian may send home some oxytocin for injection at the end of delivery. Please be aware that this is a powerful hormone and in the wrong situations can cause death of the pups or mother. This should never be given without direction from a veterinarian. Should a pup be in a poor position for delivery and the mom unable to deliver the pup, uterine rupture can occur. In all cases of difficult deliveries or delayed deliveries a radiograph should be done to rule out uterine torsion or malposition of a pup before giving oxytocin. A lay person should never give oxytocin unless they are sure that all pups are delivered and the vet has suggested its use.

When to call the vet:

  • No labor after day 64 of the last breeding
  • No labor more than 24 hours after temp drop or 36 hours after progesterone drop
  • No pup after 6-8 hours of stage 1 labor (Uterine contractions but not straining or pushing)
  • Amniotic bag presenting for greater than 20 minutes and no pup delivered.
  • A vaginal commitment to fetal structure or placenta with no advancement
  • A half-hour of heavy labor every 3-4 minutes with no pup.
  • Bitch experiences muscle weakness, tremors, rigidity or seizures (signs of pre-eclampsia /eclampsia)
  • Green discharge before the birth of the first pup.( premature placental separation) It is normal to see green discharge after a pup is born.
  • Bitch passing a heavy persistent flow of fresh blood from the vulva possibly indicating uterine torsion, rupture or hemorrhage
  • The bitch demonstrating evidence of severe abdominal pain and symptoms of shock, pale mucus membranes, rapid thready pulse sudden drop of body temp (below 98) or collapse.

While there is no rule about time between pups, call if the bitch ever looks in distress, pushing without result or a pup in the vagina without delivery.

Cesarean Section

Hopefully you have had an x-ray the last few days of the pregnancy and the vet has assured you that the puppy heads are all of an even size and that you do not have a large puppy in the mix. It will also show if the pelvis of the bitch is going to be large enough to match the puppies’ heads. If any of those equations are not true, then you and the vet need to discuss having a c-section, and how many extra hands he might need to help stimulate and keep the puppies alive while the operation is going on.

The vet will be busy with your bitch to make sure each horn is checked and the puppies are all out, that she is doing fine, stitched up, and resting comfortably. This means that you will need to have a set of hands for each of the puppies you are expecting. Though sometimes, enough hands are not always available due to the workload at the vet’s office. Each puppy has to be rubbed vigorously to dry it, they have to be suctioned, and they have to be wrapped warmly and moved in such a way as to get oxygen into the lungs and get them crying and pink.

Having the necessary care for each newborn puppy is easier with a planned c-section than with an emergency c-section. Often, those are done in the middle of the night when the bitch is in hard labor and nothing is happening.

How long is too long too leave your girl in labor before you call the vet is always up for interpretation. I start to panic early and have to force myself to wait because I love my bitches and don’t want to lose them. Most say that 1 ½ hours to 2 hours is long enough. If it is hard non-productive labor then you are stressing the puppies as well as the mom. There is no guarantee with a c-section that all of the puppies will be fine, but hopefully won’t loose the mom because you waited too long. Hopefully you will have a good vet who through coaching and questions can help you make an informed decision about what is best for your bitch.

Newborn Care2024-04-15T08:16:37-04:00

This information is based on the experience of the author, is provided to breeders for informational purposes only. It should not be construed to be endorsement by HCA of any particular technique, method or recommendation. Always seek and follow the advice of your vet first.

Supplemental Feedings

So you’ve done all you can to produce a healthy litter of puppies but something went wrong with one or more of them. Perhaps the dam has more than puppies she can handle, didn’t go full term is overdue, the puppies are undersized or just didn’t form correctly. Almost anything can go wrong. An absolutely wonderful book to read before you have your litter is Puppy Intensive Care: A Breeder’s Guide to Care of Newborn Puppies by Myra Savant-Harris, this book will tell you what to have on hand in an emergency and where to find it. There is The Whelping & Bearing of Puppies: A Complete & Practical Guide by Muriel P. Lee, The Complete Book of Dog Breeding by Dan Rice, and Breeding a Litter – The Complete Book of Prenatal & Postnatal Care by Beth J. Finder Harris. (Please refer to the References Section for more books about breeding dogs.) The resources are out there to help you, but do keep in mind that a Havanese mentor and your vet are your best resource.

Orphan pups and Premature pups

If something happens and Mom will not, or cannot, feed one or more of the puppies, you need to be prepared. Mom’s milk may not come in right away; she may not be ready for motherhood so you might have to become the, hopefully temporary, surrogate mother. You should have available some “Just Born” or “Esbilac” milk replacement and some small animal nursing bottles. You can find it in liquid or powdered form at many pet stores or from online suppliers. If you have read the book mentioned above and feel confident enough, you can try your hand at tube feeding. To do that, you will also want to have a catheter and syringe available for use. Sometimes tube feeding is the only way to get the puppy to take milk. It’s a good idea to have your vet show you how to do this ahead of time.

In making these decisions, it is best to enlist the help of your veterinarian as soon as possible after the birth.

There are some wonderful recipes for milk to feed the puppy, but if this is your first time, the store ones are just fine to get you started. A lot of puppies are born in the middle of the night when it is not easy to find a market open. You certainly do not want to leave mom and the pups to go find what you need, so it’s a good idea to be sure you are prepared ahead of time.

If mom is not cleaning the puppies for some reason; they will need to have assistance from you to stimulate them to potty. Please do not leave your litter until you are sure all are being cared for by the mother. I use soft Kleenex to help the new puppy go. Rub gently from the tummy to the rear across the genital area to help stimulate them to urniate, then you need to rub from genital area to the tail to help them poop. The stimulation is something you will need to do after you feed them, which should be done about every 2 hours to start with.

Try to keep the puppy with the mom and litter mates to keep it warm, if at all possible,. If mom is pushing the puppy away, you need to have a place to keep it warm by itself. One way to do this is to use a small plastic container lined with towels. You can purchase a “Snuggle Safe” that can be warmed in the microwave to place in a towel under the puppy. Or you can use a heating pad on low. Make sure that you monitor the temperature and that you don’t dehydrate the puppy in doing so. If the puppy gets chilled you will lose it quickly. All the puppies need to be kept warm as they are not capable of regulating their own body temperature in the first several days.

Each day you need to take the mother and puppy aside to try to get the puppy to nurse if at all possible. If you don’t try, you won’t know if the mom will accept the puppy or if the puppy now has enough suction to nurse the mother. If you can get mom to accept the puppy, it will be better for both of them, but this does not always happen.

For the first several days, you should weigh the entire litter to determine their progress on weight gain. A small basket or bread pan on postage scale works well for this. The first day you will often find that they have lost a small amount of their birth weight, but after that, they should make a steady gain. Havanese puppies at birth can weigh anywhere from 4 oz. to 7 oz. with some variation above and below those values. Their birth weigh depends on the bitch and how many puppies she has produced as well as other factors.

Weak or Fading pups

Underweight and very weak puppies are a little harder to deal with. As soon as you notice they are non-responsive to nursing you need to give them a drop in their mouth of Karo Syrup or you can use a product called Stat that you can get from your vet. This is a short term fix to give them a small amount of energy while you and your vet assess what is causing the weakness.

Hopefully you will have already established yourself and your bitch with a good vet (see Preparing for Delivery) who can help you make good decisions and can coach you through the following procedures or other appropriate ones.

You will need to keep the weak puppies hydrated. If you gently pinch their skin and the skin stays up in a pucker, you know you need to get fluids into them. You may not know how to give them fluid subcutaneously, but you can try using a the feeding tube or a bottle. With the easily dehydrated fading puppies, you have to keep a special balance between warmth so the puppy doesn’t get chilled and fluid intake because the warmth will speed up fluid loss from the puppy.

The puppy needs to have enough energy to take the bottle; a 3 oz. or smaller puppy sometimes does not have that strength. To help with this problem, you can try putting the small puppy nipple on a 3/10 cc syringe and then gently push the milk out as the puppy sucks. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to regulate the amount of milk that comes out of a syringe. Some breeders will hold the puppy with it’s head in a slight downward position to help keep excess formula from drowning the puppy.

The puppy’s stomach is small, so great care must be taken to not over feed the puppy. A general rule of thumb is to feed the puppy ½ it’s weight in cc’s…for example…if the puppy weighs 3 oz, feed 1-1/2 cc per feeding, every 2 hours. It is a good idea to weigh the puppy each time you feed so that after 3 or 4 feedings, you will know whether the puppy has maybe gained even a small amount of weight.

Malformed pups

You also need to know that sometimes puppies are born in a dry sack and dead, and the mom may try to eat it so that it will not affect the remaining puppies. This puppy should be removed from the mother as quickly as possible.

2024-04-24T20:13:06-04:00Breeders Education|

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