Receiving the Puppies
That is another point in favor of being on the spot while whelping is taking place. In this way you are able not only to assist with the puppies but also to count the number of after-births which are passed. It is absolutely essential that the bitch should pass an after-birth for every puppy which she whelps. If one should be retained, infection will follow. Keep accurate account of them, and if one should be retained for any length of time after the whelping is finished, call the veterinarian.
Artery forceps are also a help in the case of an afterbirth which does not come away with the puppy. I place one clamp about an inch from the belly of the puppy, and another close to the bitch. Then the cord is cut on the outside of the clamp which is close to the puppy. If the placenta has not come away by the time I have the puppy ready to be placed in the box which is prepared for it, I then grasp the second clamp. By synchronizing a steady pull with the straining of the bitch, I am usually successful in removing the after-birth.
"While in the uterus each puppy is surrounded by a transparent sack filled with clear fluid. At birth this sack generally is broken, but it frequently is passed intact. The first thing to do then is to rupture this tissue. It tears easily, and I always use my fingers, stripping it away from the puppy at the same time. When this is removed, I place my clamps on the umbilical cord.
After the cord is cut, the puppy is laid on a soft, rough-surfaced towel and rubbed vigorously but gently, to dry it off. This will usually cause it to commence squirming, if it is not doing so when picked up. However, there are instances when the puppy appears to be dead. When this happens, lay him flat on your palm and close your fingers around him. Gently squeeze, to remove air and mucus from the thorax and throat, and then quickly release the pressure. Repeat this measure, timing the pressure with the normal breathing of a puppy until the little fellow either shows signs of life or it becomes apparent that he is beyond recall.
As soon as each puppy is dried off, remove the artery forceps from the umbilical cord. This short clamping is all that is necessary to control most bleeding, but it sometimes happens when the clamp is removed that blood will ooze from the cut end. In this case, replace the clamp while tying a suture about the cord, inside the clamp but as near to it as possible. Then again remove the clamp. When cutting the cord, be sure that the cut is about an inch from the belly of the puppy. Should it be necessary to tie off the cord, the type of suture used is not of much consequence. Either gut or silk will do equally well, or linen thread may be used. These sutures do not need to be removed, for the cord will slough off in a few days, leaving a clean scar on the belly of the puppy.
Do not think that puppies need to nurse immediately following birth. They can go without food for several hours if necessary, and it is much more satisfactory to keep them away from the bitch while whelping is going on. Dry them thoroughly, keep them in a warm box, and they will be all right. In a very short time they will be struggling around, cheeping like young birds until they find each other. Then they will climb into a huddle and go to sleep.