Another cause of post-whelping trouble is a retained live pup. I have seen such an instance where the whole litter was lost as a result. Had the bitch been kept under close supervision for the time immediately following whelping, this might have been foreseen and the results warded off. This bitch had six puppies in her litter, all healthy, and all normal births.
After whelping she was left alone in the kennel, with no supervision other than that given at feeding time. For the first day there were no signs of anything being wrong with either the bitch or the puppies. On the morning of the second day following whelping, the bitch was found to be out of the box. She was in pitiable condition, hardly able to stand alone. The box itself was a shambles of torn bedding and blood, with a seventh puppy badly lacerated about the hindquarters lying in the mess. The other puppies were cold and stiff. On being placed in a warm oven they revived somewhat, but in less than a week all were dead.
From the evidence inside the whelping box, the seventh puppy must have been misplaced in the uterus, and when it came, it presented feet first. Having been retained two days longer than the others, this one was much larger, and even in the case of a normal birth would have caused the bitch some difficulty. This was greatly increased by the fact that it came feet first. In her desperation to get rid of this last puppy, the bitch grasped it with her teeth, tearing the hindquarters to shreds, but finally delivering it herself. The ordeal so exhausted her that she left her other young. After a week of careful nursing the bitch finally recovered, but the whole litter was a total loss.
As the bitch continues to feed her litter, her coat will become poorer in quality. At the time of whelping she will be in good coat—as good as at any time in her life— but as lactation continues it changes, until by the time the puppies are weaned she will be practically out of coat.