How To Ensure Safe Whelping For Aging Dogs
Safe whelping your dog as it ages. She will likely start to experience complications during whelping, even if she is in good health. To be safe, there are certain precautions and steps you need to follow to help your dog get through the process and get her help if any complications arise.
Let’s take a look at how you can ensure safe whelping for older dogs.
Safe Whelping – Avoid Breeding Dogs Over Six Years Old
The best age for mating your dog is between two and six years old. Any pregnancy after your pooch turns six can lead to health risks and complications for both the mother and her litter, even if the mother was in good health.
If, however, you do have an older pregnant dog, it is important to get her regularly checked by a vet throughout her pregnancy.
Safe Whelping – Visit the Vet Regularly
No matter how old your dog is, it is important to take her for a pre-breeding exam before mating her. During pregnancy, you should make sure you get your dog checked regularly. Set up a schedule with your pup’s vet so that they can make sure her pregnancy is on track and there are no complications during the process.
You should also get your dog an ultrasound appointment to find out how many pups she is carrying.
Give Your Dog a Healthy Diet
An older dog’s digestive system is more sensitive to changes in diet, especially during pregnancy, so you should be careful about what you feed her.
After six weeks, your dog will require about 30 percent to 50 percent more calories a day. Make sure your dogs have several small meals a day rather than a single large meal because its stomach does not have much room to expand during the pregnancy. This is even more important for older dogs whose stomach tissues cannot expand as much as younger dogs.
Safe Whelping – Be Prepared for a C-Section
Your dog will need close vet supervision throughout the duration of her pregnancy. One important thing you need to discuss with your vet is whether to get a Caesarean section when your dog’s labour occurs.
A planned C-section is costly but it is less so than an emergency C-section. Ask your vet for the estimated cost of the surgery and keep the money ready in the event your dog needs a Caesarean.
Setting up a Whelping Box
Choose a designated area in your home where you can set up a whelping box where your dog can give birth. This is particularly beneficial for older dogs who might need emergency care.
It is important to get a whelping box large enough that your dog may be able to fully stretch out in it and nurse the pups. However, make sure that the box is portable and can be easily carried into a car to bring the dog to the vet.
Since dog births are quite messy, you should line the box with lots of paper or towels, which can be easily removed when soiled.
Once your dog has given birth, switch the paper to mats, which will give the newborn puppies better traction. It is also a good idea to add a shelf in the box, which will give your pups shelter if their mother rolls over.
Familiarize Your Dog with the Whelping Box
It is important to buy the whelping box a few weeks in advance of the due date of your dog and help her get familiar with it. If your dog is not comfortable with a whelping box, she would hide under the bed or go to some other less-than-desirable place to give birth.
Since your dog is older, it will require your presence or the presence of the vet when giving birth, so a whelping box is important to ensure she gives birth at the right place.
Safe Whelping – Prepare Birthing Supplies
You will need to keep some tools and supplies on hand, which will be needed once your dog gives birth. Important tools include scissors, mild iodine, a thermometer, and unwaxed dental floss.
You can use the floss to tie the umbilical cords and cut them if the dog does not have the energy to do so herself. You should also sanitize the puppies with gentle iodine once you have severed the umbilical cord.
Assist Your Dog During Labour
In most cases, a drop in the rectal temperature of the dog to less than 37.8 degrees Celsius signals the start of the labour. It is possible that your dog will also become restless, will have swollen and dripping nipples, or start panting.
The first stage of labour will last for 24 hours, during which time your dog might not feel inclined to eat. However, you should still make sure she gets plenty of fluids.
The second stage of labour is the delivery stage. Your dog will start abdominal straining. If you notice your dog is straining continuously for over 30 minutes without any sign of watery discharge, you should call the vet.
It is a good idea to stay with the dog until she has given birth to one or two puppies. If there are no issues with the birthing, you can choose to stay or leave, depending on the preference of your dog and her condition.
Your dog will deliver one puppy every 45 to 60 minutes. Before delivering a pup, it will release fetal fluid. If over two hours pass after the release of the fluid and your dog does not deliver a pup, the puppy may be stuck in the birth canal, and veterinary intervention may be needed.
Keep count of the puppies delivered and remember how many puppies the ultrasound reported so that you may know how many puppies to expect.
Safe Whelping – Post-birth Assistance
After your dog has delivered a puppy, you should promptly tear away the birth sac if the dog does not do so. This will allow the pup to breathe properly. Your dog will clean the pup by licking but if she doesn’t do so, use a warm and damp towel to gently wipe the pup clean, taking special care to get rid of the mucous from its mouth and nose.
Tie off the umbilical cord about two inches down from the abdomen and then cut it. Apply mild iodine to the site of the incision to prevent infection.
Monitor the Mother and Pups After Delivery
Make sure to monitor the dogs and the puppies after delivery to see if there are any post-birth issues. Older dogs may experience post-whelping issues like mastitis, which is a painful inflammation of the mammary glands.
Your dog might experience a reddish brown discharge after whelping, but if there is black fluid with a foul odour, it could indicate a uterine infection, which would require vet care. Also, keep your eye out for any abdominal swelling or muscle spasms. See if the mother is refusing food or water after whelping or is ignoring the puppies.
Your ageing dog requires special care during and after whelping; however, if you follow the steps above, your dog will bear healthy pups and will recover her health in no time. Make sure your dog has the right place to whelp and take care of her pups after birth, so a good quality whelping box is necessary. Keep an eye out on your dog and her pups for a few days, and get her vet care if you notice something unusual.