Your bitch is about to whelp ? My 10 tips to relieve her from the associated stress ! (Part II)

A week ago, I published the first part of this blog on how to decrease the effects of stress in the parturient bitch (in case you've missed it, click here to take a look ). As promised, here is the part two below ! 


Decrease HER stress DURING parturtion


#5 : You guys know your bitches better than anybody else. Some of them will seek human assistance at the time of delivery, others will prefer to stay alone... Whichever the situation, there is only one rule of thumb in my opinion : always have a way to observe what is going on during the whelping process ! There are several alternatives : a glass window that allow to see inside the maternity, a webcam connected to a computer/TV monitor… Pick your favorite but ALWAYS keep an eye on what is going on. You’ll be able to intervene faster if needed then. 


#6 : Newborn puppies are fragile. That's why it is always good that the bitch delivers in a dedicated maternity, separated from other dogs/animals of the house. This isolation can sometimes be stressful depending on the character of the animal. We always recommend therefore to isolate the bitch at least a week before parturition. This will give her enough time to adapt to her new environment. 


#7 : This one-week adaptation period is sometimes not enough in certain cases. In those situations, pheromone collars, which have an appeasing effect, can be of great help. If you think there is a high risk of stress (especially if it is a primiparous bitch - a bitch that gives birth for the first time), do not hesitate to give them a try. Speak with your veterinarian about them, he will be able to advise you which one will better fit in your case. 



#8 : Panting is commonly seen in bitches giving birth. This leads to modification in the blood of the delivering bitch (something we call respiratory alkalosis) that will induce hypocalcemia in the parturient animal. Hypocalcemia can lead to hyper-excitability (because of the role calcium plays in the transmission of nervous messages). Calcium supplementation is often recommended during whelping (and ONLY during whelping) and it could definitely be something to consider if your bitch show signs of hyper-excitability. 


#9 : I would not recommend to give bitches cottage cheese or ice-cream as a source of calcium during parturition. Keep in mind these are dairy products and most dogs lose the ability to digest these during the weaning process : this might bring calcium, but it also exposes you to a risk for diarrhea that is never welcomed in a parturient mother. Always better to use calcium solutions in my opinion. Again, discuss with your veterinarian what the options are since not all types of calcium supplements are properly absorbed by the bitch.


#10 : Lack of maternal instinct is often reported in certain bitches, especially primiparous bitches (=the ones that give birth for the first time). The use of intranasal oxytocin spray has recently been described to improve this behaviour in susceptible bitches ( see our post on this topic here ). The product needs to be specially compounded to be used for this purpose so again, this is definitely something to discuss with your veterinarian prior to parturition. 


There are certainly more tips that could be added here, don't hesitate to share yours with our online PRO community ! The more we share together, the better don't you think ?  

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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