Last week I switched hats for a few days and was more an obstetrician than an oncologist. One of my friend’s dogs, a Jack Russell Terrier named Tallulah, had puppies.
This was a planned litter of puppies, all of which already have good homes. When Tallulah came into heat, we measured her blood levels of progesterone so she could meet the father dog at the optimal time for successful mating.
Getting the Good News
Unlike humans, there is no blood test to determine pregnancy in a dog. Ultrasound can detect a pregnancy 24 days after conception. Most dog pregnancies are diagnosed by palpation about 26-32 days after conception. The veterinarian can palpate swellings lined up like a string of pearls in the mother dog’s uterus – each swelling represents one tiny, growing puppy. Tallulah, being a willful terrier, would not let me feel her abdomen long enough to be sure, so we did an ultrasound to confirm there would be puppies coming around Thanksgiving. Here, you can see what we saw on ultrasound – puppies 3 and 4.
Just What the Doctor Ordered
Because this was a planned litter of puppies, Tallulah was vaccinated long before she was pregnant, and she was dewormed too. Because small dogs are prone to low calcium levels from pregnancy and nursing, once I was sure she was pregnant, I prescribed a puppy food high in calories and calcium and tasty vitamins as well.
Predicting the Big Day
Pregnancy lasts approximately 65 days in dogs. An x-ray is commonly used to determine the number of puppies to expect. See if you can count the five puppies on Tallulah’s x-ray.
Eight to 24 hours prior to delivering, a pregnant dog’s rectal temperature will precipitously drop. Tuesday morning, before Thanksgiving, Tallulah’s temperature dropped and she began shivering. By 4:30 am the next morning, there were five little female Jack Russell Terriers! Delivery took just under two hours. See a video of the new family below:
Organizing a Puppy Layette
Puppies don’t have nearly the requirements for clothes, beds, rockers and bouncy chairs as human babies. Tallulah needed a comfortable, clean and safe place to deliver her puppies. I have found a kiddie pool works well. The sides are high enough for Tallaulah to jump in and out, but keep the puppies corralled.
Pampering the New Mother
Mother dogs are totally focused on caring for and protecting their new pups. Tallulah hardly wanted to leave them long enough to go outside to urinate or defecate. Her food and water were close by the kiddie pool so she could eat and drink with the puppies nearby.
Although everyone wanted to visit the puppies, some new mothers may not feel comfortable having her family displayed and won’t want her puppies handled by strangers until they are bigger. In fact, Tallulah growled and snapped at her dog sister when she came anywhere near the puppies, but was fine for her human family to hold the puppies.
All five girls are doing well and you can see two of the fat, sleepy puppies to the left.
This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.
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