Every breeder has it’s own way to prepare a birth, and to prepare the dog to it’s birth. Here I want to share my method, maybe it will be useful for other people, who do not have the same experience. Many families gets a litter on their female for example.
When I plan a mating and I know that the bitch soon will go into heat, then I stop 3 months before with giving the female any products to keep flees or ticks away. Right now you can use the pill Bravecto that works in 3 months. I do not want my females to have any toxins in her body, even though you can read on the package of the product that it is okay to use on a pregnant female. I want to be 100 % sure, so I do not use these products before mating and pregnancy, or even when the puppies are born. I wait until the female does not give milk to the puppies anymore. If I find any flees in the coat during this period I rather use a comb and gives the dog a bath, and removes the fleas one by one.
I do everything I can to create a safe environment for the pregnant female, so she does not end up in stressful situations. This is really important during the first 3 weeks. This is when the fertilized eggs get stuck on the uterus. Later when the birth comes closer it is really important to listen to the female, and does not go too long walks with because she is not in the best shape because of the pregnancy.
This article is made to show how I prepare the female’s coat before a birth. I show you here the female Fortuna, who had a litter one year ago. After the birth the female looses it’s healthy coat, but it will grow back quickly. The coat on a Coton de Tulear grows approximately 1 cm a month. The female’s coat does not fall of, the coat gets harsh and looks dead instead. I did not remove the death coat from Fortuna at first, because I wanted to show her in full coat one last time. She won and became International Champion.
On the picture she is pregnant with 4 weeks. I removed all the dead hair, and you can see the healthy coat on the picture. If I did not remove the dead coat it could tangle at birth and after. When the dog has a healthy coat it does not tangle that easily, and the comb and brush will go right through it.
It is important after birth to comb the coat every day, otherwise there is a risk of the newborn puppies can get caught in the tangles, and ultimately suffocate. It is important that grooming does not take too long at birth and the first few days. I start with grooming by the mother three days after birth, and no more than half an hour at a time. Rather parts grooming in small stages so mom or puppies do not get stressed.
I prepare my females one week before the expected birth date. It means I'll fix paws, cut the nails and remove the fur on the belly. I use a rounded scissors, so I do not damage the skin. I cut down the long coat around the nipples. It is very important because if you do not remove it, the hair can cord around the nipple, and then shut off the milk. It can get mastitis due to this. It's always a good idea to check the nipples after birth, and preferably daily.
If the dog has a long coat, and I want to keep the hair in good condition, then I put the hair up on each side of the dog with rubber bands. This makes it easier for the puppies getting to the milk bar. So they do not have to fight through the coat to reach the milk. When my bitch Bahiya got her first litter, I had not found this method yet. I discovered on day 5, the puppies had bleeding noses. The delicate skin on the nose gets scraped against the fur when they have to find the nipples in the long coat
First when the female starts getting contractions I start doing elastics around the female's behind to keep the hair away. It's a relief to me that I better can reach and welcome the puppy, because the hair is not in the way, and the coat becomes protected from birth liquid. The elastics I remove after birth, and then I wash the bitch's behind with water without shampoo of course. I use no shampoo the first 2 weeks because the puppies must be able to recognize their mother's smell. They will first be able to see when they are about 14 days.
Now I will tell you about the last wash before birth. I wash the pregnant bitch, exclusively in puppy shampoo. This puppy shampoo is very gentle, and the most gentle one can use to bathing the female. Puppies muck around in the coat, and maybe they lick on the coat, so you must think about what the female is washed in. Usually when I wash my dog then I fill the sink with water and let the water go almost up to the female's back. This I will never do with a pregnant female. The dirty water must run off instantaneously. I will not risk any kind of dirt and bacteria. I use KW puppy shampoo 1:3. I rub it into the coat when the coat is wet. I leave it for a minute and then I wash it off again. Then I use the KW-conditioner, which I do not dilute. I rub it in and allows it to act for 3 minutes. The most conditioner that I use, is used by the females behind. And why do I do it? Yes, I do it for protecting the coat in this area, so the hair closes with the conditioner. It will therefore be better protected from the red and green liquid, which otherwise be absorbed at birth.
Normally I dry the hair with a blower, but I do not use it with a pregnant female. I use an ordinary hair dryer with mild heat. An ordinary hair dryer is not as noisy as a blower. I think the puppies, although they lie in the mother’s stomach, might be disturbed by the loud noises. In human children you can observe the same, so why should it be different with the puppies? So do it as gentle and careful as possible.
Now I prepare for the puppies. I use a wet-bed in the whelping box. It has rubber on the underside and on the upper surface is made of cotton which can be washed by 40 degrees. It's a great thing that there is rubber on the back, as when the bitch is in labor, working and scrapes in the box. It is important that the bitch can stand on the surface, so she does not slip. The liquid from birth will sink into the bottom of the wet-bed, so the bitch is still dry and the puppies is dry too when they are born.
Puppies should be kept warm and dry after birth, so their body temperature is not too low. I'm changing the wet-bed or sheet by every other puppy. When birth is over, the mother is cleaned and has been out to pee, then I make the whelping box ready for the puppies. I have a mattress made of horsehair, which keeps the heat from the mother to the puppies. I have never used a heat lamp. This mattress I wash at 60 degrees, and put in the dryer. I change the madras or sheet every second day(or before if needed), and ensure that the puppies are always dry and warm, but they must not get too hot, it's a balance. Now starts the pleasure with the puppies and raising them.
It is important say; this is how I do it, how my experiences are and what I think works for me. There are many breeders, and most breeders have their way of doing things. This is mine.
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