Farm Life

WHELPING PUPPIES

The Stage of Contractions - The Birth of the Puppies

After the initial period of excitement, abdominal contractions commence usually 6 to 8 at a time followed by a period of rest.  Once these contractions commence, the first pup should be born within 2 - 21/2 hours.  As the whelp process continues, a further bout of contractions will cause a gray-green fluid filled bag appear from the vulva, and further contractions will cause the pup to be expelled from the birth canal.  The bags of fluid may be burst by force of the contractions.  The fluid then lubricates the birth canal for the delivery of the pup.

The pup may appear heard first or tail first - both these presentations are NORMAL in greyhounds.  Some maiden broods may become distressed with the onset of labor - an experience they've not had before - and may squeal when the pup is born.  She may then not know what to do.

Normally, the brood will chew the bag open, chew through the umbilical cord (the blood vessels, etc.  leading to the belly of the pup), and lick the pup, stimulating it to breathe, squeal and move towards the teats.  If the brood appears to be unaware of what to do , or if, towards the end of the whelp, the brood is tired and unable to clean the pup:

  1. Break the bag open and clean the pups mouth of fluid
  2. Rub the pup vigorously with a towel or a piece of sheet, and make the brood aware that there is a pup there for her to tend by placing the pup near her face.  The brood may then respond and lick and clean the pup.  Do not clean the pups too much as the sense of smell is important for recognition of the pups by the brood.  If the brood fails to chew the cord and clean the pup, do not panic, but proceed as follows.
  3. Tear away the umbilical cord, leaving approximately 4-6 inches of cord attached to the pup.  Do not use sharp instruments as a straight cut will cause blood vessels to bleed freely (and the pup loses vital blood volume) whereas if the vessels are roughly cut, the blood vessels will contract down and stop further blood flows.  If the vessels continue to bleed, the umbilical cord may be tied off with some cotton.

Sometimes the pups will be born, and the afterbirth may remain attached to the brood for a short period of time, especially if the greyhound bag busts during the phase of active contractions.  The afterbirth is usually expelled by further contractions shortly afterwards, or by the brood as she chews and swallows the placenta, pulling it free as she goes.  Don't necessarily stop the brood from eating the placenta as there is no reason to do so.  The placenta is a good source of iron for the brood.

Once the abdomen contractions commence, a pup and its placenta should be born quickly, usually 10-15 minutes. If time of more than 2 hours goes by without a pup, something is seriously wrong, and you should contact your vet.  Pups may be born singly or in pairs (one quickly after another), one from each horn of the uterus.

The Calm After the Storm

After the birth of each pup, a period of uterine rest occurs, and during this period, the brood will be actively cleaning and feeding the pups and eating the afterbirth.  Following a suitable rest period of 10-60 minutes, the brood will recommence the stage of abdominal and uterine contractions and the whole process will be repeated until all the pups are born.  The period of time that elapses between the pops should not be more than 2 1/2 - 3 hours.   If the brood is contracting and no pups have been born within two hours, contact the vet.

Discharges

The normal discharges accompanying the birth is dark green-black.  A discharge of this color always signifies separation of the placenta - separation of the pup's blood supply from the wall of the uterus and hence the mother's blood supply.  A bloody discharge, may continue after the whelp for 21 days, initially quite a lot, becoming darker and reducing in volume with time.  Some broodes may show a recurrence of a discharge for 3-7 days, 5-8 weeks after the whelp.

Assistance to be Offered

The brood should always have somebody supervising her during the whelp.  The amount of assistance that can be offered depends upon the experience of the person supervising the brood.  If unsure, uncertain or worried at all, ring your vet and the correct course of action will be taken.

Some of the possible causes for no pups to be born after prolonged and repeated contractions include:

  1. A dead, malformed or incorrectly positioned pop stuck at the front of the pelvis.
  2. Due to the brood's pelvic conformation (size and shape) or as a result of pelvic injury (especially pelvic fractures) there is insufficient room to allow pups through.
  3. Incomplete cervical dilation: the cervix which normally acts to close off the uterus, fails to dilate and reflex fully as a result of hormonal imbalances.
  4. Uterine inertia: the muscles of the uterus fail to contract in the normal manner or have become exhausted (especially with large litters and/or low blood calcium levels).

If you see a pup but it appears to be stuck in the vagina, gentle traction (gentle pulling) on the pupas the brood contracts will assist her in expelling it.  Also, sliding a finger along the dorsal (top) wall of the vagina will stimulate contractions.  If the brood is tired, or doesn't know how to clean or stimulate the pup, process as mentioned before.

After Whelping is Completed

Take the brood out to empty herself, but be aware that she may be reluctant to leave her pups. Make sure to clean her rear with warm water as  well as clean the whelping area by replacing the bedding.  Allow the brood to have free access to food and fluids and ensure adequate ventilation and/or heating remembering that 69.8˚F - 73.4˚F is optimal for the brood, and that the brood will keep the puppies warm.  If the temperature is too high, the brood will move away and leave her puppies.

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