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Post-Natal Care For Dogs

Feb 25, 2008
Congratulations! You have just helped your dog bring new puppies into the world.

When the last puppy has been whelped the bitch will lie quietly, recuperating a little from the task which she has just completed. Then she will commence to clean herself, and a short time later to look for her puppies. They may now be given to her, after her nipples have been sponged with boracic acid solution.

It is a wise precaution to keep the litter under observation for a time after they start nursing. Frequently puppies have to be started on the nipple. I have often seen them expending all their young energy looking for food, and not knowing when they found it.

If this should happen, open the mouth of the puppy gently and insert one of the dam's nipples. It is usually sufficient to do this once, but I have seen cases where it was necessary to do it several times until the young one finally learned where food came from.

Do not feed the bitch for several hours following the whelping. She would probably refuse to eat. When you do feed her, give her raw minced beef. This will tempt her much more than prepared foods, and will give her concentrated energy-food without adding bulk. If she has eaten the placentas, you need have no worry about constipation; the most concentrated food may be given to her.

If the bitch refuses to leave her puppies after twenty-four hours, she should be induced to do so. She needs some mild exercise as well as food. The beginning breeder is likely to give all his attention to the puppies, but do not lose sight of the fact that they are dependent on the bitch for their very lives. Her strength must be kept up or there will be more headaches. As time goes on, the bitch will voluntarily leave her young, but it may be necessary to offer her some inducement at the start.

When a bitch first whelps a litter she will feed them whenever they appear to want it, but as the days pass, she will put them on a definite schedule, with the time between feedings becoming longer as the puppies grow older.

This is one reason why I prefer to leave the whelping box open, so that after the first few days the bitch does not have to spend all her time with the pups. If she is shut in with them, they will be continually pulling at her, but if she is free to move in and out of the box at will, she will feed them at the times when her instinct tells her to, and she will be able to have a little comfort in the intervals.

Do not be afraid that she will leave them alone too much. If she is a normal bitch, her mother instinct will tell her when they need attention. Let her form her own schedule, and do not force her to give more of her time to the puppies unless she is actually neglecting them.

During the period of lactation, while the bitch is feeding the puppies, she must have much more liquid food herself. From the beginning of the last week of pregnancy until the puppies are weaned, it is of value to mix with the prepared food a much greater amount of meat broth, from which all fat has been skimmed. Under ordinary conditions I merely add enough broth to mix the food to a stiff consistency, but during this time enough is used to make it sloppy.

To this is added a quantity of milk powder specially prepared for nursing bitches. These powders may be obtained from your veterinarian or from a food dealer. It is also an aid to give the bitch milk or broth to drink between her regular meals. Milk is an excellent food for nursing bitches, but is not enough in itself.

More could be said about post natal care, but these are an important few points to start. Experience will teach the rest!
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