Dog Breed Info Center(R) DBIC

Dam whelps five days early due to dead pups

Whelping Stories

I was reading your stories on the site about whelping puppies and I wanted to share a story of my own. My story is not a normal, happy story. Something went wrong and I hope by sharing it I can help others in the same situation.

My dam's temperature had dropped. She also threw up slightly, a greenish tint, on Tuesday night which was not normal. According to my calculations this would have been too early for her to be dropping for whelp, but things did not seem right and I was not taking any chances. I moved up her pregnancy x-ray appointment with the vet. I didn't want to wait.

The x-ray showed six puppies. There were four large-sized puppies, one small one and one that looked to be dying or dead going by the size of the pup on the x-ray.

The vet determined that based on the bone development on the x-ray the dam was probably not due for at least another five days so it appeared I had some time, but I felt uneasy and was still on guard.

I had learned by reading on this website if there is a dying or dead pup late in gestation it can cause all sorts of problems. Sometimes it can even effect the unborn pups' development and whelp timing. This worried me for my own dam and puppies.

That night was like any night. She was calm and acting normal. She was not heavily nesting (digging) or panting or looking as if she was in distress. I decided to sleep in the dam's pen with her so I could keep a close eye on her. The next thing I knew she was giving birth to a puppy! She had made no noise, no whimpering, no agitation or distress. If I had not been there I never would have heard her.

I wanted to give her my 100% supervision once her temperature had dropped, but it was late and time went by and I dozed off for a little bit. When I woke up she was working on cleaning a pup and another was lying still in the sac next to her. It was dead from suffocation. Some dams will not remove the sac, and she had not removed this one. It was so disappointing and sad. Dams usually make some kind of grunting noise when they whelp, but she didn't. She was a very quiet whelper.

Stillborn in a still in the sack
Close Up - Stillborn in a sack
Close Up - Stillborn in a sack on a towel

The pup that the dam was working on whelping was lifeless and not moving with its mouth open. I tried to save it. I suctioned the mouth and nose and gave mouth-to-mouth. I rubbed it vigorously and hard. I was trying to make the pup angry, trying to make it breathe, get air into the lungs and cry.

Stillborn on a towel with a cord still attached
Close Up - Stillborn on a towel with the cord still attached

I worked on her for 30 minutes. She was lifeless, but I was not giving up. Finally she gasped! Gasping is good, she was breathing! I worked on her some more. By the end of an hour she was good and breathing on her own. As I read on this site, do NOT give up on reviving puppies for half an hour. Keep them warm and do reviving techniques. I remembered that and that is what I did.

Close Up - Stillborns face

The first three puppies born were all within 15 minutes. That was VERY, VERY quick. I never had that happen before. Normally the time between pups being whelped is about 30 minutes to 1 hour. In my opinion I suspect it was the dead pup in her that was forcing her to whelp.

Close Up - Stillborn inside a sack

The 4th and 5th pups were born soon after. Both of them were dead and not fully formed. The 5th pup was the one on the x-ray that the vet saw and suspected was dead. It was being reabsorbed.

Close Up - Stillborn bottom half inside of a sack
Close Up - Stillborn bottom half inside of a sack with green stuff on its mouth
Close Up - Stomach are of stillborn puppy
Stillborn with a bad stomach
Close Up - Stillborn with stomach deformity
Stillborn puppy on a towel
Placenta attached to the puppy by the cord

My dam was calm. She cleaned her pups and I helped her get the two pups latched on to her nipple.

At 12:40 a.m. I noticed another contraction and she started to push. Her tail would go up and I could see her pushing. A 6th pup was born at 12:55 a.m. This one I was ready for. I broke the sac, suctioned the pup, clamped the umbilical cord and cut it. I rubbed, rubbed, rubbed the pup to make sure I got a cry out of it. A cry is good because it means the pup is breathing.

I weighed the pup and placed it on mom to latch and nurse.

We were done!
Hallelujah!

Close Up - Healthy puppy nursing

I am glad I did my homework on whelping. Without my prior experience and some extra training and monitoring I would have likely lost this whole litter and maybe even put my dam in danger. I can only imagine what could have happened if I had not been home or if I didn't know how to revive pups. I did the best I could and made the best of a bad situation. It was sad for the pups that did not make it, but all in all it seems to be a happy ending.

I debated back and forth whether or not to share this story. This type of thing happens all of the time when breeding, but most breeders do not like to talk about this part of it. It’s fun to talk about the cute, fluffy puppies, but it is not fun to think about the puppies that die and the health problems that come up. After reading all of the information on here I decided to share. Thank you for letting me tell my story and thank you for all of the information on this website.

 

Whelping: Close-to-Textbook Case