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Tips re Jezebel, the pregnant foster BC


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Hi all: I have taken-in Jezebel, a foster BC who, the pound volunteer said, "might be" pregnant. Well, she "quite be" pregnant, bulging at the sides and with distending teets. She was a stray 10-days ago when picked up with her companion, Jacko, a neutered male, so chances seem good the pups will be crosses.


My 15-yo daughter and I are actually quite interested in the birthing process. My Qs:


Any tips in general?


Any best sources of comprehensive info?


Any signs the term is near?


We have three NM BCs of our own--I assume they should be segregated until the pups are mobile, at least?


And, finally--Are we nuts?


I've gotten great advice here in the past--so, Thanks in advance!


Happy to talk on the phone--925.837.8788.

Tom Cushing, Danville, CA

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Hi, Tom,


I'm just a couple hours north of you, in Sonoma County. Don't know anything about pregnant dogs except to take her to the vet and get her checked. The vet probably? might? be able to tell you how far along she is and some basic stuff to prepare for the birth.


I'm sure someone else will be able to guide you better, good luck with her, and thanks for taking her in!


Ruth n the Border Trio

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Hi Tom

Go to the Great Lakes Border Collie site(http://www.greatlakesbcrescue.org/). Read the story of Peaches under available dogs. The person fostering her wrote extensively about the whole process of birthing and raising the puppies.


Also, I think Jennifer has posted on this board about her recent experience with a rescue with an unknwn pregnancy. Perhaps she will comment.


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Hi Tom

To address your questions, in no particular order...


Are you nuts? Well, insufficient information for a meaningful reply, but maybe we should revisit that when you have X number of maniac puppies trashing your house. :rolleyes: (Seriously, you're probably more kindhearted than nuts.) Everyone has different beliefs and feelings about this, but it is possible to spay a pregnant bitch and avoid puppies altogether. Many people have a moral objection to this, and it's not for me to call someone else's shot in this regard, so I offer that as a point of information, and it's up to you what you do with it. I know you didn't *cause* this pregnancy by either negligence or intentional breeding, you stepped into it by accident, but there are a lot of BCs and BC mixes in rescue. Just something to bear in mind.


Best source of comprehensive info is probably your vet, in part because it is an interactive source and can answer your questions. Also, your vet can see the dog and I can't, so all I can offer is general information.


On dog segregation - depends on the dog. Some mothers are quite tolerant, others will attack anything that comes within yards of the nest, and some will, if sufficiently stressed, eat their young. As a general rule, if in doubt, separate them until you know, and supervise carefully once introductions begin. This also goes for people - some bitches welcome a human that they trust and like as a source of comfort at or around the time of whelp, others need to be left alone. Bitches can arrest their whelp if they are stressed. Remember that this is not a side show. It's a matter of life and death to her, and should be treated accordingly, and with respect to her individual preferences. You can set up a whelping box for her in a quiet, secluded area and hope she uses it, though some dogs will make their own decisions about this and whelp under your porch (or other inconvenient spots) regardless of how nice the whelping box. Some bitches are EXTREMELY protective of the pups and will not allow anyone near them for several weeks after they are born, and it's best not to press them (some will without hesitation bite even people they know well; others seem content to allow gentle handling of the pups by one or more people). Again, I generally suggest respecting the dog's wishes in this as much as is possible. It's great to have the pups socialised by handling when they are tiny, but not at the expense of life and limb (for you or the puppies). Most females will return to their usual demeanor after the pups are gone.


As far as predicting whelp, some bitches will have milk one to three days prior to whelp, but others will not, and some seem to drip milk much earlier than you'd expect. It's common for them to either stop eating or vomit their food in the 24 to 48 hours before whelp, but many bitches eat up to the time of whelp (and some during it). The most accurate predictor is their body temp. You have to take it wice daily, because you can miss it if you don't, but within 24 hours of whelp they generally drop their body temp BELOW 99 degrees (F). I mean BELOW, not TO 99 degrees (the normal temp of an adult dog is 100 to 102.5, though in a pregnant bitch you might be a fraction or two higher from the tremendous metabolic drive). The temp drop can be transient, hence the every-12-hour temps. Once the drop occurs, they usually begin whelp within 24 hours. The temp is, naturally, taken rectally.


If she isn't on a growth and lactation diet and you intend to proceed with the pregnancy, you should switch her over and keep her on it until the pups are weaned. The highest demands of pregnancy are actually about 6 weeks after the pups are born. Any time you change diets, you should do so gradually (over about a week) to decrease the risk of GI upset.


Once labor begins (she's down and pushing, +/- licking under her tail as if expecting a pup) you should not let her go more than 4 hours without producing a pup, or more than four hours between pups, before you call the doctor. If she's gone more than 4 hours, she needs help. Even if you have to wake someone up, do it.


Green and black discharge is normal, as is a small amount of blood, and you may see blood-tinged or brownish discharge in small amounts for 8 or 9 weeks afterward.


The two commonest causes of death in neonatal pups are hypothermia and hypoglycemia, so try to be sure they're in a warm (not stifling) environment and that they get a chance to nurse. Most of the time the bitch is 100 times better at taking care of puppies than any human alive, so if she's taking care of them, leave her to it. Occasionally you get either an inexperienced mother or an indifferent one (and rarely, a hostile one that will kill her pups), in which case you may have to intervene.


That's about all I can give you for general stuff. You should check with your usual vet for more detail about your specific situation. Good luck with this, whichever way you decide to go with it.

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Thanks for the prompt aand very helpful replies and referrals,folks! And Doc I understand your concern about continuing her pregnancy--there are indeed lots of rescue BCs in the world, and sometimes it seems like most of them flow through my house at one time or another. I will ponder my motives, and very much appreciate the even-handedness of your response.


Best regards, Tom

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My pleasure, and that you consider both sides before a final decision is all I was hoping for. It's often a hard choice. I'm not entirely sure what I would do in your shoes - for me it's easier to contemplate the spay early in the pregnancy, but in all honesty I don't think I could say *for certain* what I'd do until I was faced with it. Best of luck with it.

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wow - you are brave soul! Here's a link to a Cornell University site about predicting parturition. Also, I totally agree with "the Doc" about taking her temp twice a day and giving her a quiet room away from your other dogs to have the pups ... it has always worked for me ( I had Golden Retrievers for 20 years before going to "the dark side"). Also my personal preference has always been to take my bitches in within the last week of pregnancy for an xray to get a "headcount". Then, at 3am, I feel better about letting her rest, knowing that all the pups are accounted for (or if not, feeling justified in taking her to an emergency clinic or calling the vet).



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Originally posted by AK dog doc:

Some mothers are quite tolerant, others will attack anything that comes within yards of the nest, and some will, if sufficiently stressed, eat their young.

And some bitches, like Wicked, pretend that they ate their young but really just stashed them all over the house (under the microwave, behind the tv. etc) and then jump back in their XPen so you don't understand where the puppies went or how they got out when you come home from work.


The worst thing for me, when I fostered a birthing bitch, was the loss of puppies. Wick had 11, 2 were stillborn, 5 died in the first three weeks from "Fading Puppy." If you go here and click on Wick's photo, you can read about our experience with this.


In the future, I will endeavour to spay all pregnant dogs that come in, unless they are VERY late term. As much fun as having puppies was, there are way too many in rescue for me to bring more into the world that way. But that's ME.


Good luck to you.



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I have no qualms about spaying a dog in the early stages of pregnancy. The only problem with rescues is, if spaying is not done right away, by the time they are exhibiting signs of being in whelp, it would be too late, IMO, to spay. I must say though, that I've never had a rescue who delivered pups in my care.



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Originally posted by MrSnappy:

And some bitches, like Wicked, pretend that they ate their young but really just stashed them all over the house ...

Yes, Wick once again apologizes for that. She felt that three weeks was enough mothering and it was time for them to strike out on their own.


...Wick had 11, 2 were stillborn, 5 died in the first three weeks from "Fading Puppy."
And she sat on one.
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