Before, During and After
We take great care in preparing for and raising our AfterAll puppies. There is an enormous investment in research, time, veterinary care and equipment. It is quite different from those pups raised by the inexperienced, the backyard breeder or the high-volume breeder or puppy mill.
Here is how it works:
1. Long before the bitch comes into season, we begin looking at possible stud dogs and their pedigrees. We try to find a dog that will complement our girl. No dog is perfect, but we work toward that goal. Temperament and health is as important as beauty. Very often, the most compatible dog is not available in our area so sometimes we must ship the bitch to the dog. We invest time and rely on our experience in evaluating our bitch's positive and negative qualities and in researching and contacting the various owners and evaluating the pedigrees for compatibility.
2. About a week after she comes in season, the bitch is taken to the vet for the first of her progesterone tests. This test shows how close she is to ovulation and the best time for breeding. This may need to be repeated one or two more times but increases our chance of knowing her optimum breeding time.
3. After the stud dog has been chosen, the bitch is given a brucellosis test to be sure she isn't carrying an infection. If she is flying to the stud dog, she will also need a health certificate and an airline reservation. The stud fee is usually due at the time of breeding.
4. When the bitch is shipped back home, she is kept on high quality food and given regular exercise and care. At 28 days into her pregnancy, she goes to an out of town vet for an ultrasound. We can get an ultrasound done nearby, but this vet has superior equipment so it is worth the trip. This not only verifies pregnancy, but allows us to check the size and development of the puppies and to identify any signs of infection.
Phoenix's ultrasounds taken before the pups were born are shown below.
Ultrasound at 28 days
Phoenix had her ultrasound 28 days into her pregnancy and we saw just three puppies. If you look closely, this puppy is lying on its back with it's head to the right and a little paw is waving up toward the middle! Hi puppy!
Ultrasound at 35 days
We went back at 35 days into the pregnancy for a second ultrasound to continue monitoring the puppies. The top picture shows two puppies and third puppy is shown in the bottom picture. All had good heartbeats and did not show any sign of stress. In addition to checking size and heartbeat, the vet could check blood flow in the puppies vessels. It really is amazing! .
5. The average gestation period is 63 days from the date of ovulation and ovulation can be determined by the progesterone test mentioned earlier. About a week before the first due date, the bitch goes back to our vet for an x-ray. She will be looking for normal development in the pups and their placement. My vet also measures the size of the puppies' heads to see if they will pass through the birth canal. If not, a C-section is scheduled. This is seldom necessary but I did have one litter that needed an emergency C-section as the last two pups were turned sideways and would not have passed through the canal on their own.
Two puppies can be seen on this x-ray.
One head is in the birth canal.
The yellow markings indicate the skull and spine.
6. A couple weeks before the puppies are due, we prepare the whelping room and the expectant Mom moves in to become comfortable with her surroundings. Sometime we prepare a place in our bedroom and other times we set up the whelping room. Our whelping room is a quiet 7 X 8 foot space off of the laundry room. There is a dog door so she can go outside into a gravel pen when she needs to, However, we limit her access to the dog door closer to her whelping time. We do not want her to dig a space under the steps to have her puppies, so she will be hand-walked the last few days. The equipment for whelping includes the following:
A Jonart Professional Whelping Box: The "Cadillac of Whelping Boxes!"
This box has a raised, insulated floor to help to maintain warmth in the box. It also includes a "pig rail" that allows pups to crawl underneath it into a safe space when Mom lies close to the wall. There are panels which slide into the doorway opening to keep pups in the box as they grow big enough to climb out.
A Rover Enclosure
A Rover Enclosure pen surrounds the inside of the room. Since the puppies will spend their first several weeks in this room, the enclosure is necessary to keep them away from the electrical outlets and to keep them from chewing the woodwork or walls. Its smooth, vertical rails keep the puppies from climbing out and the spacing keeps them from getting little paws caught. It takes about twelve 24" X 30" sections including a gate section to go around the room. We have two more sets, one for the puppy pen in the kennel and another for a play area on the deck for summer puppy play. http://www.roverpet.com/enclosures.htm
Ceramic Heat Lamp and Stand
This picture shows the new stand which is taller and more adjustable than mine, but the lamp itself is like ours. I feel the ceramic lamp is safer and produces a more even heat than the old heat lamps we used years ago. It is important to keep puppies at the right temperature their first few weeks as they do not have the ability to maintain it on their own. Chilled puppies can die. Hot puppies can get dehydrated so we watch this carefully.
Linksys Wireless Camera
I have two of these cameras although one has much better video quality than the other. When I have a Mom that is getting close to her delivery date, I can monitor her on my laptop on my bedside table. The video is in color and includes sound which is important to me. I should be able to put this on the Internet as a Puppy Cam but haven't quite been able to figure that out yet. This would have been more useful when I was still teaching, but now that I am retired and able to be at home, it isn't as high a priority.
Equipment Needed During or After the Whelping
Everyone has their own list, but this one is close to what I use. We fine tune it over time until we have a large box packed with everything we need.
Lactated Ringer Solution
My vet has given me bags of Lactated Ringer Solution and the syringes, needles and tubing to use it in case of dehydration. If puppies become over-heated, are slow to nurse or have diarrhea, we would have this equipment on hand until we could get to the vet. I cannot remember how much this all cost, but you should discuss it with your vet before using it anyway. Here is a link showing how to deliver it.
Tube Feeding Kit
I used to be afraid of tube feeding, but now that I am more experienced at it, I am very glad that I know how to do it. My vet gives me the proper tubing and we make a line on it with a magic marker that shows the distance between the puppy's mouth and last rib. This is important because we do NOT want formula to go into the lungs. I also get the syringes and the puppy formula from the vet. I mix the formula with some pedialyte and warm it to body temperature.
Here is a link to a video showing how to tube feed puppies. http://www.naturalholistic.com/tubefeedingpups-1.html
Oxygen Tank, Regulator and Stand
This is something we started having on hand a year or two ago. I consulted with my vet on what to buy and how to use it. In most deliveries, we do not need it but it can save a puppy in distress or just give a weaker puppy a little "jump start." I bought my tank from a welding shop and had it filled with human grade oxygen. I got the regulator from a home health supply store. I did need a prescription from my vet for both.
Myra Savant's Book
This book is my guide throughout the whelping. I wouldn't want to be without it. As Ms. Savant says, "You may not be able to save every puppy, but why not pull out all the stops and try." Utilizing the methods listed and illustrations in her book, I have saved puppies that very well may have been lost without it.
In addition, the very best thing you can have is a friend to be your "Whelper Helper!" An extra pair of hands and a cool head are invaluable. My friend, Pam, a longtime Wheaten breeder, is one of the best. She's willing to come at any time day or night and has the experience to handle any emergency. She is the unofficial "auntie" to all our Wires now.
Here is a site that has gathered some
of the best breeding and whelping websites on the Internet.