I have started this easy to follow guide to help you though the delivery of your first litter. This should never take the place of calling your veterinarian for professional help. I would like to begin with a list of things you will need to have on hand as the big day arrives. Followed by the big event and what to expect.
Make out a list of what you will require for your litter to be born safely:
* Important* Phone within reach at all times with your vets telephone number and his emergency after hours contact. The number of your all night emergency vet clinic or vet hospital.
This is a list of things I have in the room ready and ticked off when I have got them all. Make sure the room you use has been cleaned and your whelping box in place. I like to use a new piece of Lino or a new tarp cover this with thick layers of newspapers on top of this I place the vet bed.
It is good to ask family and friends to save their newspapers for you well in advance you can never have too many.
Towels you will need tons of them. I wash them in some detol added to the washing machine. I cut up the larger sized towels so they are all about the size of a small hand towel. Make sure no threads are hanging that can tangle around pups feet.
Thermometer Digital is easier for you to use.
Clock Important for checking contractions & time between births
Bulb Syringe -- The type you would use on a tiny baby to aspirate fluids from the mouth and nose. This is not crucial but may come in handy if puppy swallows fluids.
Hemostates to clamp cords. Stainless steel or the plastic ones with do fine: Always clamp or squeeze about 2 inches from the pups tummy tie the cord before you cut it the tie with dental floss or watch mum carefully if you are allowing her to do it herself. Just make sure she does not get too excited and drag too hard then you will have a hernia to deal with.
Torch: one bright for room and one that can be directed at the vulva
Clock Very important for checking contractions and time of birth
Detal Floss the unwaxed kind for tying off cords
Blow Dryer This can be used to help warm puppies and dry them off and also helped with some light air into their airways. I have also used the blow dryer on the mother after drying her off as best I can with towers and use the blow dryer on her especially if she is a long coated breed. Tomorrow is another day and you can bath her or wash her better. I feel it is a shame to pull her away from her newborn pups. She needs as little distraction as possible during this early bonding period.
I will go into more details a little later down the page.
Rubbish bin and bags
Something to store Dirty linen
Scales to weigh pups
Puppy Milk Replacer Just in case you need it.
Vanilla ice cream ready to give mum a boost and have on standby vanilla yogurt
Coffee, book, magazines etc for you.
Camera fully charged with spare cards.
In the last couple of weeks prior to your bitch giving birth change her over to a good quality puppy kibble. Do not start feeding her up as soon as you know she is pregnancy you will end up with big whelps that may be hard for her to pass freely without vets helps and we really do not want a C-Section if it can be avoided.
The last week make up a temp chart and start taking mum's temp twice daily. This will let you know her normal range it should be between 38c and 39.2
When it drops to 37 and some go as low and 36.4 or a little less you know you are in business within the next 12 to 18 hours.
The First Signs
As delivery approaches, the bitch will usually become restless and start to nest. Provide plenty of newspapers for her to rip up. I have found most of mine like to go out and dig in a quiet corner. If she does this stay with her and keep watch. This behaviour actually helps to get the pups moving down. I actually had one of mine get herself down in a hole so tight I had to get a lead on her and pull her out. Then checked the hole and yes a puppy was there. Had I not been with her I would have lost this little one. Keep vigil and always have a torch handy at night and when she squats check just in case. If she appears to stop progressing put a lead on her and walk her around the back yard and just keep doing gentle circuits. A short drive in the car often helps to get her contracting again.
I have found it often easier to whelp a bitch on a clean floor with large plastic liner with newspaper on top and with towels then lift her up and pop under more newspaper on top to keep her as dry as possible. Whelping is very messy so be prepared. It is often good to have a second person that can give you a hand. If she is on the floor you can mover around her more easily. When she is finished I then move mum and pups to a clean warm whelping box. Of course many like to whelping then directly in the box and whatever suits and works best for you.
I have some great websites for easy reading and that will help you though the whelping. Have a look and write down points of interest to you. Watch any videos. Try to stick to one otherwise you will get confused.
The most important thing is warmth for your newborns. I like to have a warm box ready for the pups Keep your towels warm if possible and this box nice and cosy in between whelps or in case she is delivering quickly you may want to keep your pups safe while you are helping with the next pups. Then return them quickly to suckle this helps with her contractions and milk supply.
I keep a separate box on hand with warm bedding, torch, and lost of towels just in case you need a c-section. It is very important to keep the pups warm. I took a hairdryer along to one C-Section it helped save a few lives. I cover some hot water bottles wrapped in towels and off cuts of vet bed. Vet hospitals will always help you refill the bottles before your trip home. Never lay a puppy direct on a hot water bottle it will burn itself and die cover it and place bedding on top and a warm light weight blanket to keep out the chilly air.
I am going to start another page to give you some help once your litter has arrived.