CHIHUAHUA PREGNANCY & WHELPING ADVICE
The signs of pregnancy vary from bitch to bitch, and some can conceal their secret for a surprisingly long time, especially if there is only one small puppy. On the other hand if there is a large litter, pregnancy may become apparent as early as the third week. During pregnancy the bitch should lead a normal life with a regular amount of exercise, and extra nourishing food, especially protein, should be added to the diet. The yolk of an egg should be given at least once a week. I give my girls a boiled egg every day for breakfast when they are pregnant. Stress, should be added to one meal a day. I am not sure what you call this in the US? but it is a white powder full of vitamins and other neccesary ingrediants, i.e. calcium. Available from your Vets. This will help prevent pre-eclampsia after birth. During the last week it is a good idea to give extra calcium and vitamin D, this makes whelping easier.
The normal gestation period is sixty-three days, but many Chihuahuas have their puppies two or three days earlier. Puppies can survive as early as the 57th day, and as late as the 72st day, but if a bitch has not had her puppies by the 63rd day always inform your Vet. Also make sure you let your Vet know a week before she is due to whelp, incase you need their services. If it is the first time that you have whelped a Chihuahua, then I strongly suggest that you arrange for your Vet to attend, or another experienced breeder. This way you can be taught exactly what to do and, more importantly, what NOT to do. NO Chihuahua bitch should ever be allowed to whelp by herself. Even with 26 years experience I always make sure I have someone else there to assist me. Two pairs of hands are needed, one to attend the bitch, and one to deal with any puppies that may be in trouble when they are born.
Make notes of the various stages, so that the next time you breed her, you will have the information handy. They usually follow the same pattern each time. The wise breeder enters up for each girl the details about the mating, whelping, and when the next season is due. A bitch generally comes into season again four months after the birth of her puppies.
About a week before the bitch is due to whelp make her a special whelping box. Place nice warm bedding in it. The bitch should be kept under observation for the entire week in case she should whelp early, and should sleep in the whelping box in your bedroom. You need to have heat arranged for when the puppies are born. Once again see my suggestion of a heating pad, but some people prefer an infra red heat lamp. A hot water bottle is not a good source of heat, as its temperature does not remain constant. In an emergency puppies can be kept surprisingly warm in a well lined, thick cardboard box covered with newspaper. Loose shredded paper put inside. Keep testing the warmth inside the box, and move the paper to make sure air gets in. I use a thermometer on the box I keep my puppies in, taped to the back of the box. This should register 75 degF, 24 degC, for the first three weeks then the temperature can be slowly reduced to 60degF, 15.6degC. Puppies can not control their own body heat, so temperature is very important. They can fade and die very quickly if not kept at the correct temperature from the second they are born.
A week before a tray should be set with the articles neccesary for the whelping. These should include some cotton wool, Dettol antiseptic, small artery forceps or a spring hair clip, a hankerchief, some brandy and an eye dropper, or revival drops obtained from your Vet, a jar of vaseline,warm olive oil, a small rough towel for drying the puppies, scales for weighing them, a clock for timing the whelping, and a notebook for writing up the details for future reference.
Twenty four hours before whelping the temperature of the bitch will drop to 99 degF,(37.2C) the normal temperature being 101.2F. The vagina will soften and there is a sticky discharge. Labour is divided into three stages. In the first stage the bitch becomes restless and licks her rear parts. She may pass urine frequently, and she will start to tear up the newspaper, or ruffle up bedding, to try and make a nest just before the arrival of the first Pup. She will refuse all food, and occasionally a bitch will be sick. This uncomfortable stage may last as long as twenty four hours, butmore frequently it is a matter of just a few hours. The second stage is when the pains change to powerful contractions, which can be seen and felt by placing the hand upon the abdomen, where the hardening of the uterus can be easily felt. These pains last a few seconds and then the bitch rests in between. The pains continue until the puppy is born. The first sign of the puppys impending arrival will be a hardening beneath the bitchs tail. The bitch should never be allowed to push in the second stage for more than two hours without getting help from the Vet. The membranes, or water bag, usually make the first appearance and contain a greenish fluid which protects the pup before it is born and dilates the vaginal passage. Inside this is the pup which is covered in another membrane. The water bag looks like a dark slimy skin and it may appear and disappear with each contraction. The bag varies in size depending on the length of time before it breaks. Sometimes the bag breaks early, in which case it may not be noticed, but the Vet should be informed if no puppy has arrived within two hours after the bag is known to have burst. Novices often mistake the water bag for the puppy and often break the bag in error. This causes a dry birth and may make the labour more difficult. It is easy to tell if it is the pup or water bag by feeling the area, if it is the puppy it will be hard, if soft the water bag.......
Normally, the bag bursts just before arrival of the whelp, which comes out nose first, followed by the paws and with its back nearest the back of the bitch. The puppy sometimes arrives all at once with one contraction still entirely in its bag. If this happens, the bag must be broken at the puppys nose immediately and removed from the puppy. If only the head appears and the puppy does not arrive immediately, break the bag at the nose, and pour a little warm olive oil round the neck of the puppy, and the shoulders will probably be born next. Take hold of the puppy with a large piece of cotton wool, or a clean hankerchief I find is good, to prevent it from slipping, and pull the puppy firmly between the bitch's hind legs towards her nose. NEVER NEVER try and pull the puppy straight out away from the bitch. If all is wellwith the puppy, dry its mouth and try to pull the placenta (afterbirth) out immediately. The removal of the placenta is the third stage of labour. Use a gentle, firm pull in the same direction as you did the puppy, that is towards the bitch's nose.....
Having got the placenta out, and provided the puppy looks well and is breathing and moving allow a few seconds to pass, then milk the blood in the cord towards the puppy and sever the cord. This enables the blood supply from the placenta to enter the puppy, which will give it a better start in life. If, however, there is any difficulty in removing the placenta, or the cord should start to break, fasten a spring hair clip or forceps to the end of the cord nearest the bitch. Pinch the cord between the thumb and forefinger of each hand about an inch from the puppy. Then tear the cord apart, by pulling with the thumb and forefinger nearer the puppy. This is extremely important, because if it is done the other way round the puppy may be given an umbical hernia. If there is any difficulty with the removal of the afterbirth, or the puppy looks weak and is not breathing, cut the corsd immediately, leaving the forceps on the end to prevent the afterbirth the after birth going up into the bitch again. If the cord is torn, it never bleeds, but if it is cut, there may be a small haemorrhage, which is of course dangerous for the puppy. If this should happen, put on a sreilised spring hair clip, or if neccesary the cord can be tied with a length of sterilised cotton. I put on a little veterinary wound powder to the end of the cord., just for its healing properties. You can get this from your Vets, and it is useful for many things, i.e. cuts.
If there is a complication due to the puppy being large and becoming wedged in the vagina, it is essential not to leave it there for more than five minutes at the most. The blood supply to the puppy becomes cut off, and if the head should be out, there is not enough room for the lungs to expand sufficiently. Get someone to help by holding the bitch up, lifting her abdomen, while you try and pull the puppy away between her legs, ALWAYS towards the bitch's nose. You can use vaseline around the entrance to the vagina. Puppies are remarkably strong and can stand quite a strong pull. It causes some distress to the bitch, but one good pull is better for the bitch than long fruitless contractions which only wear her out and may well jeopardise the birth of the other puppies. If you are at all worried about your girl, always get Vet help whatever hour it is. Never think that you will wait until the morning. If you do it may well be to late too late not only for the puppies but perhaps for the bitch as well. It is infinitely preferable to have a ceasarian section than to risk the life of the bitch. Never allow a Vet to take a puppy away by forceps. I know a friend who had a Vet inexperienced in Chihuahuas who had this happen. Chihuahua bitches are too small for this, and frequently their internal organs become damaged in the process. A ceasarian section is always safer, especially with todays anesthesaia.
As soon as the puppy is born, dry it with a warm rough towel and hold it upside down for a second or two to make sure any mucus in the air passages is released. If they seem snuffley, then very gentle shaking whilst upside down will remove the excess mucus. Give the puppy some quite rough treatmetn to ensure that it starts breathing, and turn it from side to side. In the meantime, allow the bitch to eat the placenta. She should only be allowed to eat two of these, more may cause diarrhoea. They are endoctrine glands and contain a very important nourishment for the bitch. The puppy is often covered in dark green slime or blood. This is quite normal and is nothing to worry about, unless their is a bad smell. The mum will clean her puppy and give it some quite rough treatment. Guide the puppy onto a teat immediately. and it should start suckling. If the afterborth has not come away it is neccesary to it by pulling gently on the forceps. If for any reason it does not come away, the Vet must be informed, as this can be very dangerous for the mum.
After the birth of the first puppy, the mum will rest from five minutes to two hours before the arrival of the next puppy. If she goes longer than this inform your Vet immediately, as there may be some obstruction, or the bitch may have inertia and be too exhausted to produce another puppy. If there is any doubt, please never hesitate to call the Vet. Many chihuahua girls would be saved if only breeders were a little more careful.
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