Mating: A Crash Course In The Reproductive Cycle – Part 5

Peter | September 13th, 2008
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During the first 24 to 48 hours after delivery, take the mother and all puppies to see your vet. The purpose of the examination is to insure healthy puppies with no obvious defects or illnesses, to be sure no puppies are retained in the uterus, to correct vaccination deficiencies, and to give the mother a hormone injection which will aid in contraction of the uterus and removal of the debris from stage 3.

The nursing period begins with the secretion of a complex milk-like substance called colostrum. Puppies nursing during the first 24 hours of life get antibodies from colostrum, giving them protection against diseases for the first few weeks of life. Puppies failing to nurse during the first few hours face a stormy start in life and may fail to survive.

Sick puppies, or those unable to survive the competitiveness of a large litter, soon become too weak to nurse. The result is a vicious cycle: the less they eat the weaker they become, and the weaker they become, the less they eat. Weak puppies require extra help; use an orphan formula to feed them. Several products are available over-the-counter for this purpose. For feeding instructions follow the label recommendations of the manufacturer.

Too weak to respond, many puppies fail to cry out in response to pain. Weak puppies are in danger of death and should be treated by your vet.

The nursing period places a heavy nutritional burden on the mother. The nutritional demands of nursing are greater than those of pregnancy, and close attention should be paid to proper feeding during this time. Dog foods of high quality and vitamin and mineral supplements are necessary.

Milk Fever

Eclampsia (known as milk fever) is a severe complication which can develop during the nursing period. The cause is a deficiency of calcium in the blood, resulting from rapid calcium loss into the milk during periods of high milk production. It is identified by severe convulsions and a rapid rise in body temperature. When it occurs, it is usually seen in the second week of nursing. Eclampsia is an emergency requiring immediate medical attention to prevent death.

Final Word

When the basic principles of reproduction are fully understood, the chances for successful mating will be greatly enhanced. However, the problem of how to deal with the excess puppies which result from over-breeding still remains. A number of methods are currently used to control vet over-population; none of them have been particularly successful, however, simply because of the enormous number of animals involved.

Again, attacking the problem at the source by halting unnecessary mating is a more sensible, and humane approach, than allowing dogs to mate indiscriminately and then seeking methods of disposing of the unwanted puppies.

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