Watercubs & Kivisilmän
working show-quality newfoundlands
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Explanations for the equipment:
Reserve a lot of disinfectants, rubber gloves (disposable) and disinfectant towels to clean the floor (e.g. Mr Propre). The disinfectant towels are brilliant, as the disinfectant is already in the towel, so you can very quickly wipe the floor clean of blood, dirt etc.. You will need many disposable rubber gloves. It is quicker to throw away your gloves and put on new ones, than wash, dry and disinfect them every time they get a bit bloody or dirty.
You will need a pair of small nail scissors to cut the umbilical chords if the bitch does not bite them herself. To tie the umbilical chords, use the dental floss. The puppy room should also have a jar of honey, which you can rub on the puppy’s fur if the bitch is not interested in licking the newborn. You will also need small towels to dry and warm the puppies (at least 3 x puppy). Small towels (20cmx20cm) are much easier to handle than large clumsy ones, and you can wrap the puppy in the towel when you place it in the puppy basket (laundry basket). If you use big towels, you will not be able to fit as many wrapped puppies in one basket
, but for a big dog such a Newfoundland, the puppy box was just an inconvenience and no help at all. We or the dog could not fit in the puppy room properly. It is much easier for you to place the puppies in baskets filled with warm towels. You can place the basket next to the mother, without having to fear that the mother would step on them. (NB! Make sure the dam does not try and settle herself in the baskets :-))
Make sure the edges of the basket are high enough, so that the puppies won’t climb out after a few days. The puppies have quite a lot of strength and agility, so they are able to push and lift themselves quite high very soon.
One basket is not enough; as it is easier for you to keep count if the puppies need to defecate, et is placed in the different basket than the ones that are waiting for their turn. It is also a good idea to keep a collar on the bitch, as this way you can quickly grab her and prevent her from stepping or lying down on the puppies or getting up during nursing.
By using nail polish, you can mark which puppy is which. It is a good idea to put the mark on the tails rather than on their paws; as the tail-marks fade away slower. You can also see the tail marks when the pups are at the mother’s teats. Make sure that the nail polish colours you have chosen can be seen on black fur, so avoid any clear or similar shade polish colours. If you run out of varying colours, start marking the puppies strategically. If you have a boy with blue colour, mark the next girl with blue as well. It is easy to mark the tail after the puppy has eaten and it is completely relaxed in your arms. This way the polish has time to dry before you place the puppy among the others.
You will need a lot of babywipes and Kleenex-boxes. You will use a lot of them very quickly, as you have to help the puppies defecate before and after each feeding. If the dam wants to lick them, let her help, but always make sure that the puppy really does pee and poo so it doesn’t get constipated. You can always use regular toilet paper to make the puppies pee, but the Kleenex boxes are much easier as you don’t have to worry about ripping pieces of paper while holding a peeing puppy. It is a good idea to use Kleenex for the pee, but use the babywipes for the poo. Vera wasn’t too interested in licking the poo, so we had to rub the puppies’ belly and bottom after each feeding. Originally we used the regular Kleenex, but only after one day we realized that a bit of the poo had dried on the puppies’ bottom and one puppy already had a small blockage. By using the babywipes, all of the poo is cleaned, and no blockages have yet occurred. As an additional bonus, the babywipes resembles the mother’s tongue more (wet) than a Kleenex and the puppies pooped easier.
Buy a LOT of big trash bags, as the puppies wid often. Use the small trash bin in the puppy area, as it is easy to manoeuver. You can empty it into a larger trash bag after each feeding, so that the puppy area stays clear, clean and organized. It is more hygienic to keep the big trash bag in the next room or in the corner of the puppy room. Keep the puppy room as clean and organized as possible, so that all the equipment is easily found and all the dirty papers are placed straight into the trash bags.
The puppy-room should have a scale
with which you can measure the puppies’ weights, so that you know which ones
have gained/lost weight from the previous feeding. You can also divide the
puppies into two groups depending on their birth/gained weights. For the
first few days, we divided them so that in one of the baskets there were two
smallest and two biggest puppies. Vera’s hind teats have more milk in them,
so we placed the smallest puppies on the “best teats”.
WC-mats (1mx1m) are very useful during the feeding. We folded the mats so that the cold tile floor would not affect the puppies and they would stay warm. We could not turn on the floor-heating, as Vera could not stand the heat. Capri had not minded the extra warmth. The WC-mat does not slide, and the puppies get a good grip with their small paws during nursing and when they are practising walking.
If the mother does not produce enough milk, you can give the puppies’ store-bought puppy milk with the 5ml syringe. The babies’ milk bottles are too big and clumsy for feeding newborn puppies. If the puppy does not take the teat in its mouth, you can “force feed” the puppy a few drops to wake its appetite. When the puppy is more interested in eating, place it on the mother’s teat as the mother’s milk is much better than the store bought puppy milk and contains valuable antibodies. You can always give the bitch some of the puppy-milk for the first few days. The milk is a good extra source of vitamins, calcium and energy. Let the puppy drink as much of the dam's milk as long as it does not overfeed. Overfed puppies will cry and cause sleepless nights for you and the puppy.
If your dog has a very low pain threshold and has a loud voice, it is a good idea to get earplugs. The whining and barking during the birthing process will give you a bad headache and break your concentration. You cannot relax and the whole birthing process will be very stressful for you and your dog. Vera’s birthing was very quick and she concentrated on pushing, so she did not make a lot of noise. Vera’s mother’s, Capri’s first birthing was extremely noisy, she barked and whined throughout the opening and pushing phases, which took over 36hrs so we had to use the earplugs. Take a headache pill if you feel your head is starting to hurt. You are of no use to the bitch or the puppies with a horrible migraine.
Charge the camera and empty the memory card! Get in contact with the 24 hour vet and make sure the vet is available even in the early hours of the morning. Tape the vet’s number on the puppy room wall and program it to your mobile phone. Print the driving instructions and make sure you really know how to drive to the vet. It is a good idea to use a wireless phone, so that you can move from room to room.
Don’t forget about yourself either. Make sure that there is something to drink and eat. We always have a few bottles of coke (caffeine and sugar) and a few bars of chocolate (energy!) downstairs in the puppy room. It is also a good idea to have something to do while you wait for the puppies to be born. If you stare intently at the dam, you will make her uncomfortable and nervous. You should relax, as the birthing process takes many hours. You could even read the puppy books one last time J.
Noteworthy about the puppy-room:
The puppy-room should be in a quiet area, as it is important for the newborn puppies and the dam to relax and sleep in peace. If the family has other dogs, make sure they cannot come to the puppy-room. We allow the family’s other dogs to meet the pups when they move upstairs when they are about 2,5-3 weeks old.
Organize all the birthing and puppy equipment and think carefully where you will be at what point. If there is more than one of you, discuss who does what. Who helps the mother break the fetal membrane, who cleans the pups and warms them up and who records the weight and times of birth… Make sure everything is thought out before the birth as during the process your concentration will suffer and you will get anxious and frustrated more easily if there is no organization. It is important for you to stay calm and make sure the bitch is relaxed.