Responsible Breeding Steps

14 – Puppies are Born!

Most bitches give birth easily, without the need of human help. Each puppy emerges in its own placental membrane, or sac, which must be removed before the puppy can breathe. The mother usually takes care of this by tearing off (and sometimes eating) the membrane, and then severs the umbilical cord. After delivery, she will lick each puppy to stimulate its breathing.

You should keep track of how many placentas are delivered and ensure that the number matches the number of puppies, since a retained placenta may cause problems.

You must take over if the bitch neglects to remove a sac or sever an umbilical cord. A puppy can remain inside the sac for only a few minutes before the oxygen supply is depleted. The sac membrane should be torn near the puppy's head and peeled backward until the puppy can be gently removed. Then you should remove mucus or fluids from the puppy's mouth and nose, and gently rub the puppy with a towel to stimulate circulation. The umbilical cord can be tied with unwaxed dental floss, and cut on the far side of the time about two inches from the abdomen. The cut end should be painted with iodine to prevent infection.

At the time of birth, the new mother will be busy cleaning her puppies, warming them, and allowing them to suckle. It is very important for the puppies to suckle soon after emerging from the womb. Suckling lets them ingest colostrum, a milk-like substance containing maternal antibodies which is produced in the mammary glands just after birth. Colostrum helps the newborn puppies fight infection in their early days, while their own immune systems mature.

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