Dog Breeding - What you need to know
What do I Need to Know if I Plan to Breed My Dog?
Breeding animals requires a significant commitment of both time and money. Pregnant and lactating bitches and their pups require adequate amounts of good quality food, regular cleaning, worming, vaccination and microchipping. Money should be set aside in case of birthing difficulties, as caesareans are expensive operations. If you have the time and resources to breed, then following are some general guidelines.
At breeding the bitch should be in good physical condition, underweight animals are less likely to become pregnant and overweight animals are both less likely to become pregnant and are more likely to have birthing problems if they do become pregnant.
They should be up-to-date with vaccination and intestinal worming.
Vaccinations should be given yearly and well prior to mating. Vaccination should not be administered during pregnancy.
There are a number of worming options for the bitch (mum):
Give Drontal® 10 days before breeding, 10 days before whelping and then 2 and 4 weeks after whelping.
Advocate® can be used on pregnant and lactating bitches that will also protect their pups from worms and fleas until weaning.
Advantix®, Advantage® and Frontline® may be used on pregnant and lactating females and this will control fleas on their unweaned offspring.
Deworming options for Puppies:
Drontal® worming suspension for puppies: given at 2,4,6,8,10 and 12 weeks of age and then every month until 6 months of age.
‘Heat’ is marked by the start of vulval bleeding and the bitch will be attractive to male dogs but will initially not allow mating. Most bitches will allow mating after day 9 and most bitches will become pregnant if mated on days 11 and 13 after the bleeding starts. The timing can be variable between bitches. It is more important to keep breeding records for each bitch and know what is ‘normal’ for a cycle for each individual.
A whelping box should be prepared that is large enough to contain the bitch and all the pups until weaning. There should be a low-point where the bitch can leave the box. A rail around the edge can help prevent smothering and the box should be kept clean at all times.
Birth is usually 58-68 days after the first mating. Healthy bitches on a good quality diet will not need additional feeding for the first 5 weeks of pregnancy.
From week 6 onwards, the bitch will require a gradual increase of food intake 30 percent more than normal by the end of pregnancy. Feeding at this stage should be at least twice daily or ad lib for very large litters. A high-energy food (such as dry puppy food) may be needed to maintain good body condition for some bitches. Strenuous activity should be avoided in the last 3 weeks of pregnancy. Full term females should appear healthy and if unwell should see a veterinarian.
Ultrasonography (ultrasounds) can be used for pregnancy diagnosis from day 30. Radiography ( Xrays) can be used after day 45 and are useful to count pups before whelping occurs.
Two weeks before the expected birth, the bitch’s rectal temperature should be recorded twice daily. A drop of 1.1-1.7 degrees Celsius occurs 6 – 24 hours before whelping. Other signs of whelping include nesting behaviour and seeking dark places 1-3 days before birth. Appetite may also be reduced 1-2 days prior to birth. Vulval enlargement and a slight vulval discharge may also occur. The presence of milk is not a consistent sign of approaching labour.
Labour itself is in stages. There should be minimal human interference through the entire process to allow the normal progression of labour and ensure maternal bonding. KEEN OBSERVATION is the KEY!
The first stage normally lasts from 6-12 hours. During this period the bitch is restless, nervous, pants and may vomit. Second stage labour normally lasts 3-6 hours. The second stage is marked by active abdominal contractions, visible straining and the passage of amniotic fluid and pups.
When to seek Veterinary advice
There may be intermittent abdominal straining for a few hours before the first pup but constant, unrelenting, unproductive straining for more than 30 minutes is NOT normal. If there is longer than 4 hours of second stage labour without the passage of the first pup, please seek veterinary attention. Subsequent pups are usually passed hourly after the first, though the dam may rest with no straining for an hour or so between births. Please seek Veterinary advice if there is longer than 2 hours between births or if contractions are continuing for longer than 15 minutes without pup delivery. A dark green/black discharge without pups is also not normal.
After each pup, the placenta should have passed. The mother should be left to bite through the umbilical cord and clean the membranes off the pup. If this takes longer than 2 minutes the membranes should be removed from over the face. If needed, the umbilical cord can be clamped and cut 1cm from the body and tied off if there is bleeding. Puppies should feed as soon as possible and can be held to a nipple if not feeding. A dark red/red brown discharge indicates all afterbirth has been passed.
Handling of pups should be minimal for the first 2-3 weeks.
The bitch’s appetite should return within 24 hours.
Feeding should maintain the bitch’s optimal body condition. With average to large litters, feeding should be 3 times daily or adlib. Good quality puppy food is high in protein, calcium and energy and is a good food at this time.
Puppies can be exposed to puppy food from 3 weeks and often try their mother’s food. Weaning is usually at 6-7 weeks. This is best achieved by removing the mother from the pups and not feeding her for the day. The pups can be fed during this time.
In the evening, remove the food and then re-introduce the mother to the pups overnight. Permanently separate the mum and pups the next day.
Change the bitch back to her normal food, feeding half her normal amount the day after weaning, gradually increasing the amount back to normal over the next week.
Puppies should be wormed every 2 weeks from 2 to 12 weeks of age, from 12 weeks to 6 months old, worming is monthly and then every 3 months after that.
If you have any questions regarding dog breeding, or concerns with your current pet, please phone our hospitals on;
02 4256 3638 - Albion Park Veterinary Hospital
02 4234 1317 - Gerringong Veterinary Clinic