Whelping Puppies and the Decision to Intervene
WHELPING PUPPIES AND THE DECISION TO INTERVENE
This past Monday my Lowchen, Cannoli had puppies. I have whelped several litters here but not for nearly 14 years and those litters were of a different breed, Dachshunds. I knew it would be a somewhat new experience, but did not expect it to be as different as it was!
As you probably know the gestation period for a dog is 63 days, however this is an average and can have the puppies earlier or later than this. 63 days from Cannoli’s first breeding was Friday, 8/31. My whelping supply order was due in on the 8/28 or so and I was planning to spend Monday, 8/27 setting up the whelping box (that I had loaned out and picked up the previous weekend) and get everything else ready for her to deliver on or around Friday the 31st.
On Monday morning, 8/27, Cannoli hopped into bed with me as she does most mornings to snuggle until I get up. In her last several weeks of pregnancy she would lie in front of me and I would stroke her tummy, feeling the puppies moving around. Like every morning she got into bed and lied down and I began to rub her belly. Almost immediately after beginning to pet her tummy I thought I felt a contraction! I continued to pet her and felt another one! She was definitely having contractions which meant that she was going to have these puppies that day!
I took her into the room where the whelping box was going to go and there was a dog bed in there. I put that down for her and she began to nest and scratch around while I called my two close friends who wanted to be there for the whelping and who could help me prepare for the whelping. Thank goodness for good friends! Sarah and Michelle got on the road and Michelle arrived in about 20 minutes and Sarah in an hour and a half. As soon as Michelle arrived I was able to move the whelping box into the room. Sarah arrived and had stopped at the store to pick up some of the supplies that I had not had a chance to get like a heating pad and ice cream (for Cannoli in between puppies). Then, we prepared to wait.
This all started around 6:30am, at around 10:58am Cannoli delivered her first puppy, a girl who appeared healthy and began to nurse right away. Right on schedule she had her second puppy, a large male almost exactly an hour later. This puppy was really big and also began to nurse immediately. At that point we went back to waiting feeling confident puppy number three would present in an hour or so as the others did. An hour went by with little more than a few small contractions. Then another hour with little progress. Cannoli’s breeder and co-owner and my mentor in the breed had been following the progress via video and said that if she didn’t have this final puppy within 30 minutes to take her in to the vet for an xray and possible oxytocin shot. An oxy shot, sometimes called a “pit shot” is an injection that causes a dog to have contractions. Here is when I started to get into the should I or shouldn’t I debate in my head.
My mentors, by now a second breed mentor was consulted, both suggested I take her in immediately. I thought we should wait longer because in my other breed, Dachshunds, it was not unusual for a bitch to start delivering and go several hours without having a puppy only to deliver the remainder of the litter without issue. Also, I had recently attended a breeding/whelping seminar where it was suggested not to intervene unless the bitch is in distress. Finally, my mentors in my first breed were not at all the kind to take a dog to the vet and typically recommended doing everything yourself at home which I usually didn’t do because it sometimes didn’t seem like a safe option to me. So, they said I should take her in and I said I didn’t know, but ended up taking their advice and taking her in. I took her because I absolutely trust them, not only as friends and mentors but as highly knowledgeable and experienced breeders who have whelped many more litters than I have. That is a decision that I will always be grateful I made.
Sarah drove and we toted Cannoli, along with her two babies to my vet’s office which is about 20 minutes away. My wonderful vet was waiting for us and immediately brought us into a room. The tech came in to take her back and they graciously allowed me to go back with her and help hold her for the xrays. The technology has changed so much since I worked in vet hospitals and the xray immediately shows up on a monitor. We immediately saw what we weren’t sure at first was one or two puppies. We then determined that there was one more puppy who whose neck was bent sideways making it appear like possibly two. We decided to give her a pit shot at the vet and then he was also going to send home more in case I needed it. His plan was to give her one shot and then immediately send us home. After giving the intramuscular injection he waved us out telling me to pay later just get her home.
We rushed Cannoli and the babies to the car and started for home. About 10 minutes into the trip home Cannoli began to have some significant contractions and then began to push. I asked Sarah to pull over so we could deliver this last puppy. She pulled over and Cannoli pushed hard and the puppy came out breach (back feet first) and not in the sac. This can be dangerous because if the puppy is out of the sac for long but not delivered they can suffocate. I made the decision to pull the puppy out. This has to be done carefully and with the bitch’s contractions. The puppy was slippery and I didn’t have gloves or all the equipment, but I did have a small towel that I used to help grip him and on her third big contraction and push I pulled him out. He was not moving much or pink, so I began to rub him in the towel until he wiggled and cried. We got them both settled back into the bolster dog bed on my lap with the other two puppies and headed for home.
Upon arriving home we got Cannoli settled into her whelping box with her babies. The puppies are now 5 days old and doing very well. They get weighed daily and everyone is gaining weight. Cannoli has been a great mom and is doing wonderfully. On day 3 we started the Early Neurological Stimulation exercises and will continued that until day 16.
The moral of the story is to follow your gut, until someone you trust who knows better tells you to do something else.