Pregnancy and the subsequent raising of a litter of puppies place heavy demands on a bitch. Most bitches handle both tasks extremely well.
1. PHYSICAL EXAMINATION:
It is generally advisable to have both the bitch and puppies checked over within 24 hours of the bitch having whelped. During this visit any potential problems can be discussed and any questions you may have can be answered.
Special puppy/lactating diets are required for the nursing bitch. The quantity of food required will be up to three times that normally fed, depending on litter size – given in 3-4 meals distributed through the day. Provide clean fresh water at all times.
For the first three weeks the bitch spends most of her time with her puppies. Allow as much exercise, as she desires.
4. BOWEL MOVEMENTS:
These are generally more frequent because of the larger quantity of food being fed. Sometimes those passed in the first 24 hours may be a little loose and dark resulting from the afterbirths eaten during the whelping process. Diarrhoea and straining should not occur.
5. MAMMARY GLANDS:
Check glands and nipples twice daily noting any discolouration of the skin or hard, hot swellings. If these develop contact your veterinarian immediately.
6. VAGINAL DISCHARGE:
Generally a reddish discharge with initial occasional blood clots is to be expected for at least the first week, reducing in quantity with time. In some bitches this may persist in decreasing amounts with a mucus consistency for 3 – 6 weeks. If this
persists for longer periods or a different coloured discharge is seen, contact your veterinarian.
The nursing mother should be content and relaxed with her puppies; if she is NOT contact your veterinarian. She will of course be very protective of her puppies. During the immediate post-weaning phase, the bitch will experience a heavy shedding of coat. Ensure she is adequately groomed at this time. Her condition will also be lighter than normal because of the demands that have been made upon her whilst nursing. Her next heat should occur at the normal time interval for her – usually 6 months in the majority of bitches – taken from the heat at which she was mated.
When this is required, a reasonable period of time after weaning should be allowed to enable her to regain condition. This would be around the time the puppies are three months old.
If you are in any doubt contact your veterinarian.
© Forrest Hill Vets (2000) Ltd