How to Assist With a Puppy Birth
Fortunately, dogs have been giving birth to litters of puppies for thousands of years and know instinctively what to do. Unfortunately, the birth doesn't always go easily and sometimes the puppies die during the process, especially in purebred dogs, which are known for having narrow birth passages. There are certain things you can do to prepare for a puppy birth and assist the mother dog when needed.
Check your calendar. The gestation period for a normal canine pregnancy is 63 days. If you know the exact time your dog was bred, you will have a good idea when she will go into labor.
Take her temperature. When labor is imminent, her body temperature may slip slightly below 100 degrees. Use a rectal thermometer and check every day, starting the last week of her gestation.
Watch for the signs your dog has gone into labor. These signs include panting, loss of appetite and the need to find or make a bed in an isolated area. If you don't pay close attention, she may run off to have her puppies. Provide her with a secure area and get her used to it in the week before she goes into labor.
Watch for the first puppy to "crown" at the vaginal opening. Usually the birth will proceed smoothly, but you can carefully grasp the emerging puppy if it becomes lodged and very carefully pull when the mother has a contraction.
Give the mother dog some ice to suck on when she goes into labor. Her breathing will become very rapid and she may be nervous. Make sure you have arranged to be with her for the entire birth process. Her abdomen will tighten with every contraction.
Give the delivered puppy, encased in a membrane, to the mother for cleaning. While she licks the puppy, you should tie off the umbilical cord and cut it on the opposite side from the puppy.
Assist the newborn puppy by tearing and removing the membrane if the mother does not, making sure it breathes right away. If it is not breathing, hold it gently with both hands, its head away from you and carefully swing it downward to encourage the mucus to drain from its respiratory tract. Repeat this procedure if the puppy does not breathe. Use the rubber bulb to suction mucus from its mouth and throat.
Place each new puppy in a basket lined with soft rags while the mother delivers another one. Place a heating pad on low under the rags to keep the puppies warm. Return them to the mother to encourage nursing as soon as the newest puppy is breathing and ready to nurse.
Record each birth time and tie a different colored string around each pup to tell them apart later. Make sure to write down which puppy has which color.