The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

Whelping and Raising Puppies

Sometimes things do not go as planned

Things started off VERY normal. Temperature dropped 18 hours prior to labor to 98° F. We knew labor was to start, and then things didn't go as planned.

At 4:15 Catreeya's first water sac broke; looks like coffee on the floor.

A brown liquid that is across a white linoleum floor.

At about 4:30 her second water sac presented and broke in about ten minutes.

A sac full of water that is hanging out of a dam's back end.

Normally labor would be next to start (in about 20 minutes), but it didn't.

NO contractions...not one (sometimes they take up to two hours).

Then, at about 4:45 p.m., she was jumping up, as she is VERY mother-driven, DESPERATE to have her sisters puppies, blocked in the next room.

We got a large pool of bright red blood. (This is not always a concern, but not normal.)

I did an internal; the bright red blood did concern me, as we still had no contractions.

I did an internal, around 5 p.m., and there WAS a puppy in the birth canal. I could feel feet and tail, no sac. Breech doesn't worry me, but the canal was not big enough for him to get out, she wasn't dilated enough. I panic?? >>>>>>> Not yet, but worry and wonder set in.

GREAT, so we waited and no contractions. I feathered and feathered, but could hardly get contractions. I could feather the pup almost far enough to grab feet but no luck, so I would push her back up inside hoping to re-position, And also to ensure the cord was not pinched off in the birth canal. There was NO green discharge, so I was sure the placenta hadn't detached, which was good.

You cannot give oxytocin with a pup in the birth canal, not that I like that stuff, and there are NO contractions, feathering is not working >>>> What do I do? >>>>> And how long do I leave a puppy in the birth canal? My mind is really starting to worry.

Two plus hours of a puppy in the birth canal, and NO contractions was enough to fry my OFF to the vet.

During ALL OF this, Catreeya was Catreeya: bouncing and lively, but she did get a little tuckered by about 6 p.m. At no time was I worried about her safety, she was in no distress. The question I had to ask was... Do I do a C-section and try to save the one pup before it detaches, is the puppy already dead? The decision for me was an easy one. Things are not normal, we have a puppy in distress, operate!

A Veterinarian in blue gear is performing a C-Section on a dam under a blue blanket.

It is a happy ending...

Two black newborn puppies are laying down on a brown blanket.

Two boys... one solid black and one black with white.

A person is holding a black with white puppy in their hand and on the brown blanket is a black puppy.

and two girls. One was way down in the birth canal. The vet said the last girl was way far up. She was the hardest to get out and her placenta was way, way up and it was not letting go.

Forcing could cause too much blood loss, so we left that placenta in her and gave her a shot of oxytocin, which didn't do a thing. We will just be careful. I think the placenta did come out the next day.

The pups are doing well. The one little girl was a little slower to revive. Three pups were screaming within five minutes, and she was going strong within ten minutes.

All pups are nursing and Catreeya is totally beat...

Of all dams, Catreeya is my healthiest. I couldn't believe that she would not go into labor.

Normally after the water breaks, it is half an hour before labor starts, but waiting up to two hours without a vet exam is OK. But my advice to all is GO WITH your GUT feeling.

I did my own internal, and new a pup was engaged in the birth canal, so I totally assumed all was going fine, however after waiting and waiting and waiting with no contractions, NO contractions...then I got scared.

In a situation like this, most new breeders will wait it out, as they do not have the experience to know this is just not normal.

In many births with a problem like this, one or two pups will be stillborn. And they will be told there was nothing they could have done to save them. There is...and that is having someone around that knows what is normal, and what is not. We call these friends


It is understanding the difference between normal and not normal that saves puppies.

Going on intuition, knowing your dog, and going with your gut feeling.

Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese

Video clip of a dam in distress. A puppy was breech. The breeder had to assist the dam by putting a feeding tube into the dam's vagina and injecting lube paste around the puppy, and pulling. There is a way to pull—toward the dam’s head. You try to touch the puppy to the dam's belly button. You do not just pull, or pull outwards. This should only be done by a very experienced breeder and you should always contact your vet before performing any such methods. If your dam is in distress, take her to the vet. Someone without many litters of experience or a vet present would not have gotten this pup out alive. This dam pushed on this puppy for 1.5 hours, and this is NOT normal. A dam should not push on a single puppy for more than 2 hours.

We have domesticated these dogs to where most dams need our help. Do NOT listen to our ancestors that used to let dogs whelp under the front porch. They now need help... We have completely domesticated them and they rely on us. This dam would not have gotten this puppy out by herself.

Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese

Another case where things did not go smoothly: Everything turned out OK in the end, thanks to the breeder’s experience, however in this case things could have turned out very badly. The dam and pups could have died. Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese

A longhaired, panting white pregnant dam is laying across a brown dog bed pillow against a green wall.

The dam is ready to deliver her pups. It is 5 p.m., and she has been in mild labor all day. She is fully dilated, and a pup is in the birth canal. We are just WAITING for some strong contractions. Calsorb was given orally to make the contractions stronger but she vomited it up. She is quite exhausted from the mild labor all day, so we are also giving her small amounts of Nutri-Cal. She is also a little dehydrated, as she has not taken any water for 12 hours, and spits it out when we syringe it. Things are not going normally, but there is no reason to panic yet.

A X-Ray of a pregnant Dam.

The x-ray shows four puppies. One is on top of the others.

A white longhaired dog is laying on blankets on top of a table in a vets office and it is looking forward.

It is 8 p.m. and a pup has been in the birth canal for three hours. With very weak pushes and an exhausted dam, it is time to go to the vet. This dam had NO push, so she had to go to the vet for a calcium drip. She kept vomiting up the Calsorb. The IV gave her fluids and calcium was given, and we had 2 pups out within half an hour.

A person is helping a dam give birth on a blanket.

Pup number three was stuck solid, can see her feet out, no sac and the cord is gone. She was scared, and stuck solid.

Close up - A persons hand is grabbing a newborn puppy that is coming out of a dam.

The stuck puppy that we are pulling by the feet would have been easier to get out if a contraction came, but none did. This pup was stuck, head in, cord cut, and basically was drowning/suffocating.

A person is pulling a newborn dog out of a dam that is giving birth.

The shoulders were stuck. The puppy lost all color. The pink wiggling feet went still and white.

The back end of a Dam giving birth. There is a person grabbing a newborn puppy that is coming out of the mother dog.

It was VERY, VERY difficult to get out, but we got her out, and she revived very fast. The dam screamed and tried to snap on every contraction and every puppy; this is NOT her temperament, it was just fear biting, She fought delivery all the way.

The back end of a white Dam giving birth. A person is holding the leg of a Dam in the air and another person is grabbing a newborn out of the dog.

Video clip of dam delivering puppy (this was puppy number two, and a fairly normal delivery). The clip is a normal birth, but NO sac to break. Remember if the pup comes out IN a sac, which is normal, get the sac OFF the puppy’s face ASAP.

A person is cutting the umbilical cord of a newborn puppy.

Puppy number two normal delivery

Two newborn puppies are nursing and they are on top of a white towel.

Everything turned out fine in the end, however, I would not have gotten that pup out without about four years of whelping experience.

Top down view of three newborn puppies that are laying on a yellow blanket at the bottom of a brown cardboard box.

If I had not known what to do, the dam and the pups could have lost their lives.

Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese

Main Menu