I was recently submitted an interesting question regarding canine parturition. One of our client contacted me, feeling worried for one of his bitch that was about to give birth soon. Not that he was not familiar with deliveries in canines (he had already assisted several of his animals giving birth) but he was not sure what to expect in this specific individual. « This is a highly expected litter, he told me. Great genetics behind this breeding. But, how can I say that, this bitch has... some character. I am afraid she's gonna stress out during the delivery and that is gonna have serious consequences. » And in my opinion, that is a right concern to have : stress can make a bitch totally block her uterine contractions. The giving birth process can therefore be difficult (this is what we refer to as dystocia). Each time this happens, this is associated with an increase in the neonatal mortality rate… So his question was as followed : " Is there anything I can do to decrease her stress during the delivery process ? ".
Good news : there are things that can be done (fortunately, because if not that would have been the end of my post !!! ). Here are therefore my 10 tips to better approach this kind of situation.
Decrease YOUR stress : be prepared !
Remember that your animal can feel your stress… and become stressed as well ! Unfortunately, stress is very communicative, so you need to take measures to avoid turning yourself into a risk factor !
#1 : Know when the bitch is due : it is well known that knowledge is power, and it is very true in this case. If you know when the bitch is supposed to give birth, you will automatically find yourself more prepare.Read our post here to see how to better predict her day of parturit... .
#2 : Know what to expect during the whelping process : when it comes to canine parturition, you always need to have clear ideas on what the normal course of events is. Every week, I see lots of posts on Facebook of people wondering if this is « normal » or not… You guys know how big a fan I am when it comes to social networks. Definitely, they help a lot. But well, in the middle of a whelping, trying to decide which advice to follow or not (or just waiting for advices to show up on your post…) might definitely help generate stress. If you just started breeding or if you are just curious, check our webinar on Basics in Canine Reproduction : it will give you the key elements you need to know to have before your bitch start to give birth.
#3 : Anticipate : it is today possible to identify risk factors predisposing the bitch to suffer from dystocia (see our post here ) before hand. Speak with your veterinarian during your bitch’s gestation to find out if she is at risk or not.
#4 : Also because 2 bitches out of 3 will give birth in the middle of the night, and because you never know what can happen, always know where the nearest emergency veterinary clinic is. And always have their phone number on hand.
This is the end of our post today but stay tuned, I’ll soon publish the Part II with tips to decrease the stress of the bitch BEFORE and DURING whelping !
Additional ressource : if you want to learn more on this topic, don't hesitate to download my free e-book from the lecture I recently did during the 2015 International Working Dog Breeding Conference on canine neonatalogy: Just click here !
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