Thursday, January 29, 2009

Early neurological stimulation - mild stress is good for puppies

Puppies are 11 days old today and they are still in the neonatal stage of development. This stage starts at birth and ends when puppies open their eyes well, usually when they are 13 days old. Today we could see that Oak's eyes cracked and they are half open!
At this stage puppies can't hear yet and obviously can't see well either. They stay close to Emma when they can. They can crawl but they are not up on their feet yet, and they can smell.

It has been proved that when pups are exposed to a mild stress at this stage, they will be able to better tolerate stress later in life. Also they will be able to learn faster and will be more outgoing. One has to be careful though and not to expose pups to too much stress.

Yesterday I cut pups nails so they do not scratch Emma, and they were very good about it. They are laid back pups, which do not mind to be handled.

Taking pups' weights daily is beneficial too as they are put in a shallow plastic container and are exposed to a different surface.

When I change pups' bedding I put pups in Emma's bed (photo to the left) or on the tile floor. The whelping box is in my office so several times a a day I get into the box and handle pups individually, stroking them, turning them on their backs or holding them in the upright position.

From now on we will have to be very careful with taking pictures and not to use a camera flash as pups' eyes are very sensitive at this stage.

You can read more about:
  1. puppy development at
  2. developmental stages and socialization
  3. early neurological stimulation

Monday, January 26, 2009

Puppies are one week old

Yesterday puppies were one week old. They truly behave like little sharks as this picture of Emma shows. Their weights more than doubled. From now on we'll write about weight in metric grams as it is much easier for me than compare ounces and pounds.
  • Oak (blue) was 323 grams at birth, now he is 785 grams
  • Ollie (green) was born at 300 gr, now 750 gr
  • Olana was 306 gr, now 705 gr
  • Olive was 261 gr, now 615 gr
Pups move quite a bit but they do not spend much time clustered together the way they are in the picture. Usually they are spread all over the whelping box, far apart, even though it is not that warm in my office and one would think they would be more comfortable close one to another.

Emma is a really patient mother. She started to spend some time outside the whelping box, in her dog bed. But any sound coming from the pups pulls her in. Actually so far puppies have been very quiet.

Ollie on his back.

Here Oak got caught sleeping with his tongue out.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Puppies are thriving

Not much new to report today. Puppies are thriving, and move around the whelping box quite a bit. To help them have a good traction while they crawl, I try to provide the bedding, at least for a part of the whelping box, that is easy to wash but has a coarse woven surface.

Emma continues to spend all her time in the whelping box with puppies. She keeps the pups very clean. She has quite a bit of discharge so I change the bedding at least twice a day. C-sectioned bitches have much more discharge than bitches of puppies whelped naturally.

Emma has a very good appetite but I have to be careful not to overfeed her. She is fed "raw diet" (a chicken mix we buy from Oma's Pride, chicken wings, turkey necks, cottage cheese) and some dry food.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Puppies are growing fast

Puppies continue to grow like weeds. Today Ollie was 16 oz, Oak 15.2, Olana 15.4 and Olive 12.2. These are the shots taken last night.

Emma is a very devoted mother - she stays with the pups in the whelping box all the time except for very short bathroom breaks. When we let her back in, she races as fast as she can to my office where the whelping box is located.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today puppies got their names

  • Today puppies got their names. All puppies in this litter will have their names that start with "O" as when we name our puppies we follow the alphabet. John started in 1968 with his first “A” litter; we went through the whole alphabet once, and now in 2009 we are on the second “O”. The next AKC litter, which will be out of Keena, will be a “P” litter .

  • The pups' registered names also include our kennel name “von Moosbach-Zuzelek”. We register all pups in our name first, and then transfer ownership to new owners. Actually today we decided on the names:

    Pink female is Olana v Moosbach-Zuzelek
    Yellow female is Olive v Moosbach-Zuzelek
    Blue male is Oak v Moosbach-Zuzelek
    Green male is Ollie v Moosbach-Zuzelek

Today Olana is 13.6 oz, Olive 10.6 oz, Ollie 13.0 oz and Oaks 13.6 oz.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A day later - update and some post whelping thoughts

Today puppies are one day old. They are doing really well, and have already put on some weight. Last night Emma was still a bit groggy after the surgery, but nevertheless she was taking a good care of the pups. She is on Clavamox (antibiotic) to prevent any post surgery infection. Her appetite is excellent, and she has a good supply of milk. The four puppies are:

  • green male 10.6 oz at birth, now 11.6 oz
  • blue male 11.4 oz at birth, now 12.4 oz
  • pink female 10.8 oz, now 12.2 oz
  • yellow female 9.2 oz, today 9.8 oz

This litter is Emma's third and last. In her first litter Emma carried nine pups. Two were malpositioned and lost during delivery, so we ended up with seven puppies born naturally. Emma had only two pups in her 2nd litter, and she had to have a C-section to get them out. The reason for C-section was not clear as pups were small and she had some contractions.

We had to resort to a C-section this time as well. Our vet thinks that the problem is partial uterine inertia – Emma had contractions but they were not strong enough to push out some pups. Since we believe strongly that only bitches who are good whelpers and mothers should be allowed to reproduce, we are going to retire her from breeding.

It is interesting that in the last 15 years of breeding we had only four litters delivered by C-section. Two were Emma's and the other two were out of FC Gela von Rauhenstein. In Gela's first litter, the first pup was unusually large, over 13 oz, and she was not physically able to pass it. We lost that pup, but 5 others were rescued. We bred Gela one more time thinking that a different male partner would produce different results. This time she did not have any contractions and six pups had to be delivered through C-section. Gela was retired from breeding after that litter.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Emma's contractions started at 12:30 am on Sunday. They were medium in strength and frequency. An hour later I palpated Emma and could feel that her cervix was dilated but I could not feel a puppy in the birth canal yet. A half hour later I could feel a tip of amniotic sac. An hour passed and I started to be concerned as the progress was slow. I gave Emma 1 ml of Calsorb, an oral calcium supplement to help with uterine contractions. Emma responded with stronger contractions.

At 3:50 am I could see a small bubble with a puppy inside.
Few more pushes and the puppy was out:

It was a boy weighing 10.6 ounces, and I put a green ribbon around his neck to identify him.

Next two puppies followed quickly:
a female 10.8 oz (pink) and another female 9.2 oz (yellow). So at 5 am we had three puppies - one male and two females.

After the third puppy we had a long break, and then another puppy descended into the birth canal. This time we were in trouble. Even though the puppy was in a right position, it was very large and it got stuck. John and I tried everything we could, but it was very difficult to extract the pup. We were ready to drive to our vet for a C-section, while finally John managed to pull the pup out. This puppy (male) did not make it. He was stuck for too long. For our record I took a picture of Emma's struggle with this pup.

The next puppy was born at 10:30 am and it was a male weighing 11.4 oz. He came legs first at an awkward angle and it took some effort to get him out. He is OK now and is nursing along with the other pups. His id is blue.

We know that there is at least one more puppy inside Emma so the whelping has not ended. We are not out of the woods yet. We'll update this post when all the pups are out.

Sunday 7 pm

We are back from a vet. There was one more puppy in Emma, and we had to go to a C-section to get it out. It was dead so altogether of six puppies we lost two and ended up with four - two females and two males. Emma and the pups are doing well.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

all is quiet

Saturday 6 am
We are expecting Emma's puppies soon as today is the 62nd day from the first breeding.

On Friday her temperature in the morning and evening was 99.5F. Her appetite was diminished, but she was still eating small meals consisting of raw chicken and some cheese. She took an occasional small dog biscuit though she has refused dry kibble for a number of days now.

We don't know how many puppies to expect but she looks pretty large. She whelped nine puppies in her first litter and only two in the second. This time my guess is that she carries 7-8 puppies. We don't know for sure as we did not X-ray her. Usually we don't X-ray our pregnant bitches unless we think that a litter is small.

We hope for a smooth delivery but anything is possible. Emma is in a good shape and her pregnancy has been very uneventful. We limited her activities outside as so far this winter has been quite brutal.

I think that she is going to deliver on Sunday so today we will make final preparations. The whelping box has been ready for a number of days now, but she prefers to sleep in her own bed. She still looks quite comfortable all stretched out, on her back or side.

Saturday 3 pm

Emma has not had any food today, just one drink of water. Her temperature is 99.2F. At noon she jumped into the whelping box and she has been staying there since then stretched out. She is becoming less comfortable, occasionally is shivering, and I can see that puppies in her belly are moving quite a bit. From time to time she gives me the anxious look, but most of the time she is very calm and half asleep. Based on my past experience this stage can take quite a few hours, and now I think that she is going to whelp tonight or tomorrow morning. The whelping box is in my den so this is where I will be spending the night.

Saturday 11 pm

All evening Emma has been up and own, has gone to bathroom frequently. Her breathing is heavy and she has been throwing up. I have not noticed any contractions yet.