Feeding the Puppies
During the period of lactation, while the bitch is feeding the puppies, she must have much more liquid food herself. From the beginning of the last week of pregnancy until the puppies are weaned, it is of value to mix with the prepared food a much greater amount of meat broth, from which all fat has been skimmed. Under ordinary conditions I merely add enough broth to mix the food to a stiff consistency, but during this time enough is used to make it sloppy. To this is added a quantity of milk powder specially prepared for nursing bitches. These powders may be obtained from your veterinarian or from a food dealer. It is also an aid to give the bitch milk or broth to drink between her regular meals. Milk is an excellent food for nursing bitches, but is not enough in itself.
The following table shows the comparison between cow's milk and the milk of a nursing bitch:
|Sugar & Soluble Salts
|Casein & Insoluble Salts
This table should again be consulted when the feeding of very young puppies is being considered.
Keep in mind that you are feeding not only the bitch but also her whole litter. The greater supply of milk which is maintained in her nipples, the greater amount of nourishment she will be able to furnish her young, and the longer time she will be able to feed them. Should her supply of milk run short before the puppies are a month old you will have your troubles, for when they are not old enough to stand and lap, it will be necessary to resort to either a foster mother or bottle feeding.
During the first three days the bitch must be kept under close supervision in case infection follows the whelping of the litter. Every breeder should have in his possession a rectal fever thermometer. By taking her temperature periodically through the rectum, any rise will be quickly noted. Since any infection of the membranes lining the uterus will be of high grade or acute type, the symptoms must be noted in their early stages and the veterinarian summoned immediately. After three days the danger becomes less, and after seven it may be pretty well forgotten.
Endo-metritis, as the inflammation of these tissues is called, is sometimes caused by severe labor or by an infection produced when an after-birth or dead puppy is retained in the uterus. The symptoms are a rising temperature and the refusal of the bitch to eat or drink. As all acute infections are rapid in their action, it is of the utmost importance that skilled care be obtained at once. When these symptoms occur, which fortunately is not often, the mortality rate is high.