Whelping Dog Kennels
I have one kennel which is given up to bitches in whelp. This is the obstetrical ward. It is divided into compartments, each large enough to contain a whelping box, with enough room for the bitch to exercise and also for me to be comfortable when the time comes for rendering assistance. As the time draws near, each bitch gets a compartment to herself and she is kept under constant supervision. By that I do not mean that I bother her, but I keep an unobtrusive watch so as to know when labor commences.
The first sign of approaching labor is usually restlessness. The bitch will jump in and out of the box, digging at the flooring and tearing anything to shreds which may be lying around. This may go on for several hours before labor really begins. If she is a house pet, she will whimper and try to draw your sympathy, while all the time she gets more and more restless. Labor does not actually begin until the bitch commences straining, trying to bring the puppies. The first pup should arrive within two hours or so after she starts this, unless something is wrong.
During this time I make my preparations, for I know that I have a vigil ahead of me, and it is frequently an all-night vigil. Several rough towels are ready to hand, also some artery forceps, sutures, and surgical scissors. For my own comfort I have a pot of coffee on the kitchen stove, and for the comfort of the new arrivals there is a box with a hot-water bottle wrapped in some old blankets.
As the time of delivery draws close, the labor pains will become more frequent and more violent. The bitch will become more restless, and her digging at the floor may become almost frantic. Then she will squat, as though trying to have a bowel movement. Keep close watch over her now, for birth sometimes takes place very quickly. I have seen a bitch give birth to a puppy in this way, then spring across the pen, dragging the pup by the umbilical cord since the placenta was still retained. The cord was partly severed by the frantic leap, and hemorrhage ensued. An artery forcep clamped immediately over the bleeding end took care of that, and a short time later the placenta also came away.