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Helping during the Dog's Labour

  There is an old saying among dog breeders that "nature makes the pup, but man makes the dog". This is true to an extent, but as breeding becomes more scientific, the part whic h man plays in making the pup is increasing. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that however important the part of man may become, nature will always bear the greater part of the load. It is often said that the bitch should be left to have her puppies by herself unless she gets into difficulties, but I advise against this procedure. Unless you are on the spot you will not know whether she is in trouble or not, and when you find out it may be too late. I never leave a bitch alone at whelping, and I have never lost a puppy at birth.

  However, a line must be drawn between assisting the bitch and interfering with her, and you must know what you can and cannot do as a breeder. Never lose sight of the fact that you are not a veterinarian. Your part is to be able to assist the bitch, and at the same time note symptoms which would indicate the necessity of expert help.

  Never attempt to turn a puppy while it is still in the mother's uterus. Even a veterinarian is powerless to interfere until the foetus has partly passed into the vagina. Should such interference be attempted, hemorrhage is likely to follow, and later on there is the possibility of the formation of a malignant condition.
If the bitch remains in labor for a lengthy period without apparently coming any closer to the actual delivery of her puppies, it is well to call in the veterinarian. There are various reasons why a bitch is sometimes unable to whelp her young. A pup may be in the wrong position in the uterus and thus block the normal passage to the vagina. Another reason may be that the pelvic opening is too small to allow free passage. This is frequently the case when the pups are not delivered on the proper day, but are retained in the uterus after their normal time. As the period of gestation is so short in dogs, a day over due may mean the difference between an easy and a hard delivery, for the pups are growing very quickly at this time.
If the bitch is in trouble, do not put off calling the veterinarian. Sometimes the only answer to these difficulties is to be found in a Caesarean operation. This is not dangerous to the bitch, but it must be carried out by one who understands surgery. Most bitches properly operated upon suffer no after-effects, and the puppies can nurse within a few hours of the time the incision is sutured.
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