The last couple days, we’ve been doing a series on Labor and Whelping. Today features three potential problems that may affect a nursing bitch post-delivery. Over the next few weeks, we will be doing a series of posts about early puppy care and development.
Sometimes everything can go great during delivery, but problems arise afterwards. Here are a few things to watch out for, as your bitch settles into caring for her brand new litter…
Mastitis: A condition when the bitch’s teats can become red, painful and swollen, making it difficult for her to nurse her puppies without discomfort. The symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some bitches can develop a fever and become lethargic. Warm compresses/hot packing can help alleviate the pain. The puppies should still be encouraged to nurse the affected nippes – it helps flush out the infected material and doesn’t harm them in the least.
Verdict: Not an emergency, but watch to see if it worsens. If it doesn’t clear up after a few days, or your bitch becomes lethargic, feverish, or snappish to her pups DO consult your vet.
Metritus: Usually occuring the first couple days after deliver, metritus is caused by trauma during delivery or a retained placenta. Metritus is a serious condition and should be seen by your vet sooner rather than later. Signs to watch out for include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Lack of Interest in Puppies
- Foul Smelling Vaginal Discharge
- Decreased Milk Production
Eclampsia: More common in small dogs and usually seen in the first three weeks of lactation, eclampsia is caused by a calcium deficiency, as the dam’s stores are depleted by the demands of nursing her litter. Oddly enough, regular calcium supplementation pre-pregnancy can predispose a bitch for this condition.
Early stages include:
- Nervousness, restlessness.
- Stiff gaits.
- No interest in her puppies.
As the condition progresses and becomes more serious, look for:
- Inability to stand
- Muscle spasms
Eclampsia is a serious medical emergency! Get your bitch to the vet immediately!
Most bitches are great mothers to their pups, and any sudden disinterest or lethargy is worth your attention. Paying attention to the dam and her needs is important to noticing an illness while it’s in it’s early stages, which can save money at the vet, not to mention lives.