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Just like with human birth, there are things about birthing puppies that just don't make it into literature! Maybe it's due to the graphic nature of the topic, or perhaps the authors are such old hands that they don't think to put these things in. Either way, here are the top seven things I learnt when birthing my first litter, that they didn't tell me about:
- Don't count on having time to reorganise between pups! We had a litter of six, and as soon as we had cleaned the pup up, identified it and settled it on the milk bar, she was getting ready to push the next one out. We had six pups in 90 minutes!
- You will not have time to go get more supplies; have everything you might need at hand in the birthing room.
- It will be very messy! Don't wear your favourite clothes, and always have pet friendly wipes to clean your hands with between puppies. Don't use alcohol gel—it is toxic to dogs!
- No matter how many towels you think you might need, double it! It's always better to have too many, than to be scrambling around trying to find a clean one.
- Don't wait if you suspect it might have been too long between pups. If she's been pushing for 15 minutes with no signs of progress, I'd get on the phone to your vet straight away. You need to factor in travel time and how long it might be until the vet can get to her. It's better to go to the vet unnecessarily than to potentially lose puppies.
- You will most likely not need everything in your whelping kit—and neither did I! Still, it is important to have them just in case they are required. They can always be sold onto other local breeders if unopened, or you can save them for next time if you're going to be breeding again
- It's not the end of the world if your bitch eats all of the placentas. We were too busy making sure the pups were all okay to be able to bag them up before she got to them. She did have rather spectacular bowel movements for a few days following, but it had no ill effects on her health.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. This is based on my own personal experiences, and any questions should be posed to a qualified veterinarian.