How to Know how many Puppies are due.
Now is the time when you will appreciate knowing in advance how many puppies to expect. To determine their number, have the bitch lie first on one side and then on the other. Spread out your hands so as to cover as much of the exposed side of her abdomen as possible, moving the hands from time to time until the whole area has been covered. This cannot be done in a few moments, for the puppies will not move to order and thus show their location. You must have patience, and sooner or later you will be rewarded by a spasmodic twitching first in one spot and then in another. Count the individual areas in which these twitchings occur, and you will have a fair idea of the number of puppies to expect. To check on this method, I place my stethoscope over each area where I feel movement and listen for the heart-beat of the foetus. There is always a chance of error, but you will not be working so much in the dark as you otherwise would.
When the last puppy, according to your calculations, has been whelped, give the bitch time to recover. She may want to see her puppies, but when she knows they are all right she is content to leave them until she has got her second wind, as it were. The time necessary for this recovery depends upon the bitch. When she begins to take an interest in things around her, and shows signs of wanting to have the puppies with her, clean out the box and get it ready for the young ones. Several layers of newspapers spread out on the floor of the whelping box are excellent at this time. Place them so that they turn up along the walls and prevent drafts from getting in through cracks in the wood. Since newsprint is a good insulator against cold, as well as very absorbent, it is most satisfactory to use while the puppies are very young. Remember to change the papers as often as they get wet. The bitch will keep her young clean so far as their bowel movements are concerned as long as she is feeding them, but the papers will in time become soaked with urine.
As soon as the bitch shows that she is ready to assume the duties of motherhood, clean her up as well as possible, but do not attempt to wash her. Sponge the nipples with an antiseptic solution such as boracic acid, but not one which might injure the puppies if they should get traces of it in their mouths. Now put the bitch in»the whelping box and give her the puppies to nurse. You do not have to shut her in with them. She will stay of her own accord.
Now, if all the puppies have been whelped and all the after-births have followed, you can take time to congratulate yourself, but keep a watchful eye on the bitch for uneasiness or rising temperature. Should a dead pup or an after-birth be left in the uterus, infection may follow and the services of an expert will be necessary, though they can sometimes be removed by an experienced breeder.