Where Should My Shih Tzu Give Birth?
This should be discussed as soon as possible with your dog's veterinarian. Birthing is not typically done at the vet's office; though a good vet will be involved and just a phone call away. Your veterinarian may know of dog owners who have great experience with this and would be willing to come to your home to aid.
If it is determined that a Cesarean section must be performed, of course this will be done at an animal hospital. C-sections are planned when it has been determined that the dam's pelvic size simply will not accommodate birthing....Or if possible complications are possible such unusual positioning of the fetuses.
Preparing For a Home Birth
If you have decided to be in charge or assist your pregnant Shih Tzu with the assistance of others, be sure to prepare. The last thing you will want is to have to run out for supplies during this exciting and adrenaline rushing time! Your Shih Tzu will need a very quiet area, usually beginning at week 2.
She will need a place to retreat to rest, as she will tire more easily as the weeks go by. It is suggested to create an area that not only will serve as her retreat during the 9 weeks, but also will be the area in which your dog will give birth. Therefore, she will feel comfortable with this area.
Being able to give your Shih Tzu her own room, such as a secondary bathroom is optimal. Put a clean cardboard box in the room. The box will serve as the Whelping Box. Your dog will need to feel safe and secure when giving birth to her puppies. The box allows her to feel the safety of an enclosed area and it will help you contain the mess from fluids and other elements.
The following is a list of all supplies needed for helping your Shih Tzu deliver:
- Clean sheets and towels
- Plastic sheets, akin to the plastic sheets put down for painting a room
- A thermometer
- A plastic syringe
- A heating pad
- A small dropper
- Clean newspaper - a large supply
When Will Labor Begin?
When a dog's temperature drops, labor will begin. Her normal temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.33 Celsius). A drop of approximately 2 degrees is the signal that you must gently move her to the whelping box if she is not already there.
What Will Happen?
As the contractions become stronger, the dam may appear restless and/or whine. She will then push out one pup at a time. Just about 50% of all puppies are born feet first; so this need not be a concern. Each puppy is born surrounded by his/her own amniotic sac. More often than not, the dam will tear away the surrounding sac with her teeth and lick the pup clean. When she licks her puppy, it stimulates blood flow and causes the pup to breath.
If she does not do this, you must! Gently rub the pups body and use the bulb syringe to clean out the mouth and nose of fluids. She will also bite off the umbilical cord; if not, this is where the thread will come in. You must tie the beginnings of a knot carefully around the cord, about 2 inches from the body of the puppy.
Then in a swift motion, pull each end of the thread which will cut the cord. The part that remains on the pup will dry out and fall off within a week or two. If she rejects the pups, a rare possibility, put a heating pad under some sheets to provide warmth without risk of burns and use a dropper to feed the pups. You will use canine milk replacer and not 'real' milk. In the majority of cases, the puppies will only need to you carefully guide them to the dam's milk.
Do not be shocked when she most likely eats the sac, placenta and other elements that are expelled. As regal as the Shih Tzu is, pure animal instinct is at play during this time and this is normal and accepted behavior.
Many people wonder if a dog feels pain or to what degree. While one can only theorize as to the extent, it will be clear that the dog will be experiencing pain. Many dogs will cry; do keep in mind that many female humans choose to "go natural" and your dog will be fine. Do have your vet on standby in case she appears to be in extreme duress. Reasons to call the vet include: Excess bleeding, raised temperature, if a puppy becomes stuck and/or if you've been told how many puppies to expect and that number has not been pushed out.
Of course, after the birthing process, she will need plenty of rest and TLC.