A Helping Hand
Sometimes in delayed labor, all that is necessary to start the normal muscular action is a small dose of petuitin, administered hypodermically by the veterinarian. I am many miles from the nearest veterinary surgeon, and when things go wrong I have to depend largely on my own devices.
If you are unable to obtain an injection of petuitin for your bitch, try giving her quinine. Five grains for cockers seems to give the desired results, though in large breeds this dose would need to be increased.
If left to herself the bitch will bite off the unbilical cord, and at the same time will eat the placenta or afterbirth. In some instances this is quite satisfactory, but in many others the bitch will bite the cord too near the belly of the pup, with a resulting umbilical hernia. By tying the cord and cutting it yourself, this danger is completely overcome. The chance of hemorrhage is also lessened, for when the cord is bitten off it is often so short that there is no chance to tie it when bleeding takes place, and the puppy dies.
Should a bitch have an umbilical hernia it will not interfere with whelping her puppies. One of the best producers I possess has a navel rupture the size of a walnut, but it has not interfered with her in the least. Sometimes the hernia will close of itself, or you might have it operated on with no risk to the dog or bitch. The extended parts may be put back in their normal place and the abdominal tissues sutured to retain them within the cavity. Generally though, this is unnecessary. Simply take precautions to see that the puppies do not grow up with the same weakness.
My third reason for saying that a bitch should not be left to whelp alone is that a puppy frequently presents feet first. Help is needed then, for the bitch will have much more difficulty in passing it. In her desperation to rid herself of it, she will grasp it with her teeth and kill the pup. Here is where a little assistance given at the right time may well save a pup, but you must be right there on the spot to give it. Grasp with a rough towel whatever part of the puppy you can get hold of, and then, exerting a pull in conjunction with the labor of the bitch, draw it gently toward you. When the hindquarters appear, change your grip to include as much of the puppy as possible, and at the next labor repeat the pulling operation. In this manner you can probably withdraw the pup while two or three labor spasms take place in the bitch.
With toy breeds and those with large heads, such as Bostons and bulldogs, it is even more important never to leave them unattended at whelping time. And remember, some of the little fellows like chihuahuas need plenty of warmth, both at whelping time and for a couple of weeks afterward. If possible, care for them in the house.