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If your American bully is due to deliver for the first time, you might be having mixed emotions. While it is exciting to expect puppies, you’re most likely worried if your dog will give birth smoothly. Well, most female dogs deliver puppies by themselves, but you can intervene when necessary.
Here’s how to help your female American bully deliver puppies safely:
- Prepare for pregnancy and delivery adequately.
- Observe your dog closely during labor.
- Assist her if the whelping process is not smooth.
- Call a vet when you need help.
- Monitor the mother and puppies.
Your pregnant American bully will require maximum attention as she approaches labor and delivery. Hence, being ready for the process will help you not panic. In the rest of the article, I’ll discuss how you should prepare and intervene when your dog is ready to deliver puppies.
1. Prepare for Pregnancy and Delivery Adequately
Female American bully dogs (bitches) are ready for breeding between one and two years. However, it is advisable to breed them at two to five years old as this is their prime fertility period.
Now, if you’ve bred (personally or through assistance) your dog successfully, you should start noticing pregnancy signs after about three weeks.
So, how do you tell that your American bully is pregnant?
Here are the signs to watch out for:
- Your dog’s nipples will appear larger and may have some color changes (though not in all dogs).
- In the fourth week, your furry friend’s belly will start enlarging, and she may start having some behavioral changes due to hormonal changes. So, you might notice morning sickness signs, including lack of appetite, nausea, frequent urination, and the desire to drink water.
Visit a vet to confirm if your dog is pregnant when you notice these changes.
- After another week or two, your dog will gain more weight and may appear uncomfortable or less interested in playing.
- As the pregnancy progresses, you’ll start noticing that your dog is lethargic and losing appetite. It’s good to seek a vet’s advice as the puppies are now big, and your dog needs nutritional support. Also, keep your bully hydrated.
- When the due date approaches, your American bully will start becoming restless or clinging to you more often. At this point, you should be preparing a comfortable, safe, and quiet place for her to deliver.
Now, your female bully has several requirements as she approaches laboring and delivery.
Here’s how you should prepare for the delivery:
- Have some savings. You’ll need to spend money on vet visits, ultrasounds, nutritional requirements, emergencies, and taking care of the puppies.
- Feed her properly. An expectant bully dog should have a well-balanced and nutritious diet to help during the
- pregnancy and delivery process. According to the American Kennel Club, you should feed your expectant dog a palatable, highly digestible commercial diet, including protein (29%) and fat (17%). Complement it with soluble carbohydrates, low-fiber meals (in late pregnancy), calcium (1-1.8%), and phosphorus (0.8-1.6%).
- Visit the vet for an examination. Regular vet visits are essential, especially during the last weeks of pregnancy, to monitor your dog’s health status. The vet will also conduct ultrasounds to check if the puppies are growing well.
- Have a whelping (birth) box ready. Your furry friend will need a comfortable, quiet, and safe spot to deliver her puppies. It’s recommendable to buy or make a whelping box and cushion it with blankets and soft towels.
2. Observe Your Dog Closely During Labor
If your female American bully has been pregnant for 60 to 63 weeks, she is most probably ready to give birth to puppies. So, you should keep a keen eye on her for any signs of labor.
You’ll know that your dog is in labor if you notice the following:
- Her rectal temperature has dropped to 97-99°F (36-37°C). As your dog approaches delivery, you should be checking her rectal temperature twice a day. A normal dog’s rectal temperature is 101-102°F (38.3-38.8°C), so a drop in this value within 12 hours indicates that she is ready to deliver within 24 hours.
- She is restless and anxious. Your dog will start looking for a perfect place to nest but avoid any attention. You might also notice her loss of appetite even with her favorite treats. This is the first stage of labor, and you might start noticing some contractions and some mucus (vaginal plug).
- More contractions. As your dog enters the second stage of labor, she’ll start having stronger contractions. She may also start panting, vomiting, licking her vulva, squatting, or lying down.
- Sac of fluid. When your dog gets to the last labor stage, she may start groaning and straining. Then, you’ll notice a bag of fluid (water bag) on its vulva, indicating that she’s just about to give birth. In most normal births, this sac fluid usually bursts before the puppies are delivered. Then, you’ll notice a straw-colored fluid (allantoic) from the vulva. Whelping usually takes place 2-3 hours after the third stage of labor.
- Puppies appear. After the water bag has ruptured, you’ll see a puppy’s head or rear appear. Both birthing positions are normal, so there’s no cause for alarm. You might also notice a dark-green fluid (amniotic) secretion after the first puppy is born.
Normally, a puppy will be in a sac of amniotic fluid, and the mum will chew it up to clean the pup and allow it to breathe. Suppose your dog is uninterested or too tired to do this (30-60 seconds after delivery). In that case, you can break the fluid bag using a terry towel and rub the pup vigorously to stimulate air circulation.
The mother dog will also sever the pup’s umbilical cord. However, if the cut is too short and bleeding occurs, clamp it and tie a dental floss (or thread) to stop the bleeding. Another puppy may appear shortly within 45 to 60 minutes, and the whole delivery process may last for several hours.
Note that a placenta appears after each puppy is delivered, and the mother will involuntarily eat it. However, if she’s delivering a large litter of puppies, prevent her from ingesting too many to avoid stomach upsets. Alternatively, take the placentas and dispose of them well.
The normal birthing process will continue until all puppies are born. Your American bully mom may have resting intervals during this period depending on how fast (or slow) she delivers the pups. You can allow her to walk around (maybe to the bathroom and back) to ease the contractions but follow her closely with a soft towel in case she delivers then.
3. Assist Her if the Process Is Not Smooth
A dog’s delivery process may not always be smooth. At times, the bitch may experience birth difficulties (dystocia) or labor complications. In such cases, you’ll have to intervene or seek professional help.
Here are some of the most common complications that arise when dogs are delivering puppies include:
- Delayed labor. If your dog’s hard labor exceeds three hours without any sign of a puppy, it could be that the pup’s position is not so good. So, you can check this through a vaginal examination (have your gloves on) and massage the vagina’s roof if there’s a puppy in the pelvic canal.
After massaging (feathering), you’ll most probably feel the pup’s head or feet near the vulva. When it starts appearing, you can help pull it out gently towards the mother’s feet.
- Lodged puppy. This occurs when a puppy gets stuck, and the mother cannot deliver it seamlessly. When this happens, you can assist her by grasping the puppy using a clean cloth. Then, exert a little pressure and pull the puppy slowly. However, if your efforts are futile, call a vet immediately.
- Puppy not breathing. If your dog delivers a puppy and fails to promptly break the amniotic fluid sac, the puppy may develop breathing difficulties. In such an instance, break the sac gently using a soft towel and then rub the pup’s body to allow circulation.
If the puppy doesn’t start breathing, use a bulb syringe or Dogzymes Delee Mucus Trap from Amazon.com to suck the fluid from the back of its throat. You can also hold it at 45° to enable the fluids to drain from the airways.
Cause of Birth Difficulties
Now, birth difficulties either arise from the mother or the puppies. Here are the most probable causes of problems during delivery:
- Size and shape of the uterine canal. Some female dogs have a narrow pelvis, hence, have difficulties giving birth. It could be a breed characteristic (if the head and pelvic area are not proportional) or as a result of a pelvic injury.
- Uterine inertia. This is a condition where the dog’s uterus muscles fail to contract and push the puppies toward the vulva. The problem can occur during labor and can be due to several factors. These include exhaustion, obesity, hormonal imbalances, inactivity, and vaginal canal obstruction.
- Voluntary inhibition. Your dog may voluntarily refuse to deliver the puppies if interrupted or becomes so sensitive. Hence, it’s advisable to let whelping take place in a quiet and interruption-free environment.
- Puppy’s position. When a puppy is due to be born, its position is either head- or feet-first. So, if it lies bottom first or sideways in the pelvic canal, the mother will find it hard to push it out. Abnormal positioning may also occur if a puppy dies before birth.
- Puppy’s size. If a puppy is extra big, a common occurrence in single-litter births, it may not fit in the vaginal canal. Consequently, the mother will struggle to deliver it.
- Developmental defects. In some cases, the puppies’ bodies may have some developmental conditions, including larger heads. These defects may lead to delivery difficulties.
- Simultaneous deliveries. Sometimes, a dog may deliver two puppies simultaneously, and this may be too much for her resting period to handle. Such a scenario can prolong the dog’s contractions.
4. Call a Vet When You Need Help
A normal birth without assistance is usually the best as it allows the mother and puppies to bond naturally. However, some birth difficulties and your intervention may help in your dog’s labor progression. However, sometimes the situation may be beyond your ability and require a veterinary’s attention.
So, call a vet if your dog:
- Has been pregnant for more than 63 days
- Is secreting a greenish or bloody vaginal fluid before delivering her first pup – this can indicate hemorrhage (excessive bleeding) or uterine rupture
- Stays in unproductive labor for more than 24 hours – you can use the WhelpWise uterine contraction monitor to check your dog’s pre-labor and labor behavior at regular intervals. Hence, in case of delayed labor or delivery difficulties, call your veterinary immediately.
- Is experiencing strong and consistent contractions without producing a puppy
- Is exhibiting signs of intense abdominal pain, weakness, pale gums, shock, prolonged vomiting, or high temperature – this can result from uterine torsion.
- If your dog experiences a prolonged resting period (more than four hours) after delivering her first puppy
Your vet will monitor your dog’s mental and physical statuses to diagnose the problem. The vet will then take the necessary interventions to assist your dog with the delivery process.
Possible treatment methods will include the following:
- Administering medication to enhance uterine contractions in the case of uterine inertia
- Calcium and dextrose injections to energize the dog if she was experiencing exhaustion, lethargy, or uterine inertia
- Carrying out a Caesarian section if the dog is too weak to continue delivering, doesn’t respond to medical treatment, or the puppies are malpositioned.
- If done promptly and correctly, C-sections are 100% effective in saving both the mother and her puppies.
5. Monitor the Mother and Puppies
Monitoring your dog and the puppies after delivery is a vital step. Although a mother dog will develop instincts to take care of her pups after birth, you may at times offer a hand and ensure that they are warm and well-fed. Therefore, you should supervise your dog’s post-whelping process to check out for any abnormal behavior.
Here are ways to assist your dog and puppies after whelping:
- Newborn puppies cannot maintain their body temperature for the first two weeks post-delivery. So, have a heat source, such as a box with a heating pad, blankets, and soft towels to keep your puppies warm. The box will be ideal when the mother is unwilling to bond with the pups or is too exhausted.
- Check if the mother is nursing the pups well immediately after birth and after every two hours. You can assist the puppies in latching on a nipple each if they can’t do it by themselves. Also, if the mother is unwilling to nurse them or seems to have nursing problems, have a commercial milk replacement formula to feed the puppies.
Esbilac Goat’s Milk Supplement is a milk formula that you can feed puppies on as it is palatable, digestible, and nutritionally balanced. A hand syringe will come in handy in administering the formula at regular intervals.
- Check out for any signs of aggressiveness. Some dogs may become aggressive after whelping due to anxiety or protective instincts. If this happens, minimize handling the puppies (unless she’s harming them) and let the mom dog take care of them. Moreover, keep people or other pets from the nursing area and avoid startling the mother and her puppies.
In rare cases, a mother dog may attack or even eat her puppies. According to specialists, this is normal behavior that arises from primeval protective instincts common among wild dogs. A mother may turn to eat her puppies if she senses danger or notices some death defects on the pups.
- If your dog appears lethargic or is sluggish in taking care of her puppies, transfer them from the whelping box into a heated box to protect them. It could be that the mother is too exhausted post-delivery or suffering from an infection. Therefore, alert your vet immediately for diagnosis and treatment.
- At times a dog may become anxious post-delivery and start digging outside her nesting box. This is unusual as a dog would normally dig inside the whelping box to make it more comfortable for her babies. Hence, if you notice any unusual behavior, try not to disturb her as she needs to feel secure. You can also take her for a bathroom break, and this may help to calm her down.
Anxiety may also occur if the mother dog feels that the room is too bright. Hence, she may start looking for a dimly-lit location to net her puppies. Therefore, you can cover her nesting box with a blanket or switch off the lights.
If you’re a first-time owner of a pregnant American bully, you might be wondering if your dog will deliver safely.
However, preparing adequately before and after pregnancy and regular consultation with your veterinarian will facilitate a successful whelping process.
However, if your dog experiences complications during delivery, call your vet immediately for assistance.
I created this blog to share my passion for bullies, and help current and future pitbull owners with things like diet and education.
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