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What to expect
Your female will show some of these signs or all of them. If your experience is not normal from things you have read, you should call your vet. Delaying help from a vet could endanger your dam and pups. This is a time to remember to be safe rather than sorry.

First stage of labor:

This stage often goes unnoticed, and takes place in the 24 hours following temperature drop.
Temperature FINALLY drops to 37°C from its normal
37,6 do 39,3 °C (you should have been taking it regularly for a few days).

If you are really committed, the temperature taking does work.  You will find her temperature around 37,6 do 39,3 °C, and as soon as it starts to drop below 37°C and continues to drop (now you take it every hour or two) you have about 12-24 hours from the start of the drop.
You may find your dam much more restless and not able to get comfortable. She will stretch out on her side. 
You may find her eyes different; they will dilate, and she will stare at you.
She may not want you out of her sight. She may go to her whelping box.
She may vomit. She may try to have a bowel movement from the pressure. She may urinate frequently.
She will refuse to eat and seek a quiet spot, like a closet or under a bed.
She may have some mucus discharge, and her vulva area will become puffier.

Second stage of labor:
Your female may go to her whelping box, or couch, or wherever she has chosen to have her pups, and start digging.
She may start shivering and panting, examining her rear, and licking her vulva.
She may have mild contractions, vomiting, pooping and urinating more.
Warning Signs: twitching, green discharge (green discharge is only normal AFTER a pup is born).

Third stage of Labor:
Water sacs present and break
Shivering and panting may continue and get stronger, as well as digging.
Contractions will become stronger and closer together.
Vomiting, grunting and pushing.

Warning Signs: pushing on a pup for over an hour causing exhaustion (more warning signs listed below).

Normal and preferred time to push on one puppy that is in the birth canal is two to ten minutes.
A puppy half out, stuck and breech must be pulled out or it will drown if pushing doesn't get this puppy out within a few minutes.

Remember, if something doesn't seem right, CALL your VET.

As soon as you know your dam is in pre-labor, it is wise to contact your vet to make sure he is on call. There are so many scenarios that could play out. In case of anything out of the ordinary, consult your vet. This section is here to let you know that you can have six different litters, and be given six different scenarios. Some books say do not let your pup have heavy contractions for more than half an hour without producing a pup, some say three hours. Some say four. Each whelping is different. You cannot put time limits on it, as every situation is different. You must study and know the warning signs of problems—there are many. If something doesn't seem right, contact your vet. "Sooner is better than later."

It is very important to know how to revive puppies and get them breathing. Not all puppies come out, cry and start breathing. This also takes experience. Puppies need to be rubbed vigorously till they cry and start moving. Some are born and cry easily, but very often they need extra help, and it sure feels good when you know what to do. You will need to get your vet to show you how to get the fluid out of the pup’s nose and throat. A centrifugal force drop done by swinging the puppy down between your legs (holding head VERY secure) is a very useful tool to learn. You do not shake the puppy, nor flick it. The movement is not jerky, but a smooth down-swing with a slow stop. Constant exchanging of warm blankets is also needed. If puppies get chilled in the first days of life, there is a good chance they will not survive.  Puppies are very susceptible to heat/cold. Have your heat pad on, and hot water bottles filled.

Even after the whelping is finished, problems can come. A new mom may have doubts about these puppy things, especially if she had a hard whelping The faster you get all the pups nursing the better. They will get the needed colostrums, and the dam will produce hormones that will actually turn her into a better loving mom. Keep her fluids up, and give her a bowl of warm broth. Some puppies do not take to nursing; BE PREPARED to be up around the clock. To feeding a slow starting puppy that just will not nurse, have Canine Puppy milk replacer on hand. Hand-feeding one puppy happens, but the worst one must prepare for is feeding an orphaned litter.

Are you prepared to do this as a breeder??? There are so many questions to ask yourself before you breed your dam, as very frequently things go wrong, and being prepared and educated can save your dam and puppies’ lives.

tlapka - paw

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