This is a general guide to assist you through the journey of your bitch’s pregnancy, it is in no way to be used instead of seeking advice from your vet.
If you intend to breed from your bitch, it is advisable to make some initial preparations. This includes increasing your bitch’s weight by a couple of pounds from her racing weight. As soon as she comes in season, she needs to be wormed and if travelling (transporter), flead to avoid picking up any parasites. Don’t forget to have her passport in order if intending to use a sire based in Southern Ireland.
Pregnancy in dogs lasts 63 days, (or 9 weeks) so it is important to be as exact as you can be with your mating date to be able to prepare properly. However, with modern AI matings, it could be a day or two earlier. After 3 weeks many bitches (not all) show signs of morning sickness and go off food. It is important at this time to tempt them with tasty treats (sardines, chicken). Usually after a week, they return to normal appetite. Also at 3 weeks the bitch’s nipples will appear more prominent and enlarged. At around 5-6 weeks the abdomen will appear slightly larger, especially after a meal. At this stage, the bitch’s food intake needs to be increased gradually. It is better to feed two or three smaller meals throughout the day rather than one big meal. The food given also needs to be of good quality protein. What you put in now will be paid back later when you have pups.
It is important that your bitch continues to exercise regularly. Fit, healthy muscles are necessary to help push the puppies out. Your bitch should have some exercise every day, although the amount may decrease as she gets nearer to her due date. Day 40 – it has shown to be beneficial from day 40 to worm every day with a 10% puppy wormer obtained from your vet and at the dosage recommended on the bottle. This will ensure that the pups are born worm free, and therefore get off to the best possible start. During the last few days of pregnancy, the bitch may not eat up completely, especially if she is heavily in pup. She should be moved to her whelping area, to familiarise herself with her new surroundings.
The whelping area should be private and preferably well away from other dogs, this will help her to relax and start the whelping process. She will not want to eat, instead she will start nesting, which means that she will be raking the floor of the whelping box and ripping newspapers etc. She will be restless, panting and agitated. This may go on for some time (can be several hours). There will be no obvious pushing, just restless behaviour. She may shiver and shake, and her temperature will drop. Many bitches will show signs of impending labour during the day, but it is common for bitches to whelp at night.
At the next stage, you will notice the bitch starting to have contractions (pushing), they will be spaced out to start with, but get closer together until the first pup is born. The pup will be inside a fluid filled sac. If the bitch does not open the sac and release the pup (some bitches instinctively do this, but maiden bitches are sometimes unsure) you will have to do this yourself. It is a good idea to have plenty of dry towels handy so that you can dry the pup vigorously and stimulate it’s breathing. Sometimes the placenta will come out with the puppy, other times it will be passed sometime later. It is normal for the bitch to eat the placenta and chew through the umbilical cord. In most cases you will not need to do anything at all except supervise her to make sure she is not too rough (especially first time mothers).
Every whelping is different. The time between puppies varies, and some bitches will rest even an hour or two between puppies. The main thing is to watch her closely. If she seems settled and calm, things are probably fine. If she is restless or contracting, then a puppy should appear within a short time or there may be problems. Any doubts or concerns then you should contact your vet or an experienced breeder. Sometimes it can be hard to tell if the bitch has actually finished giving birth or whether she is just resting between pups. If you can get her to stand, you can ‘gently’ feel her abdomen to see if you can feel more pups. It is always a good idea to make a note of the time that each pup was born. This way, if there are any problems, you will know how long since the last pup was born.
Any doubt at all, or anything not covered here you may need to contact your vet. It is a good idea to let your vet know in advance and maybe obtain an emergency phone number. Even if everything goes as smooth as possible, it is still a good idea to have your vet give your bitch an oxytocin injection after whelping has finished. This will ensure that the uterus is cleared out and prevents infection.
After whelping it is always a good idea to give the bitch a good wash down to remove all the bloody discharge from her hind legs and tail. Check that all the pups are feeding well and that mum has adequate milk. You should see the teats become gradually larger over the first few days post whelping. The bitch may not eat too much on the first day after whelping especially if she has eaten all the placentas. She should be offered food and it should be good quality. It is vitally important that the bitch is fed top quality now as it will help her produce milk to feed her pups.
All of the pups need to be wormed at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks with an appropriate puppy wormer. It is a good idea to trim the puppies’ nails at the same time as it stops mum’s teats from getting sore. We hope this guide is helpful and best of luck with your litter.
The British Greyhound Breeders Forum will not accept any legal responsibility for the contents of this advice and any views or opinions presented in the text above are solely those of the author. You should always seek the advice of your Vet if you’re unsure