When Will Labor Begin?
When a dam's temperature drops, this is your sign to get ready. Starting at Day 58, take her temperature once a day. Starting on Day 60, take it 2 to 3 times per day.
Your dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 and 102.5° Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.17 Celsius). When your Shih Tzu’s temperature drops below 100° F (37.77 C), contractions should begin within 24 hours.
As the contractions become stronger, the dam may appear restless and/or whine. 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 indeed be experiencing painful contractions.
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 pup's 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. 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.
Do not be shocked if your Shih Tzu ingests 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 expected behavior.
Do have your vet on standby in case she appears to be in extreme distress. 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.