Signs Of Labor In Dogs

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We had 8 beautiful, healthy husky puppies born here last week! I love having puppies around, but this will be our last litter for a while. Puppies take up a lot of space inside a tiny home. Luckily, some of them even have homes waiting for them already!

I’ve helped with whelping with quite a few dogs, so it was easy for me to figure out when Laska was in labor. While every dog is different, they will follow the same general signs while in labor. The average time for a dogs pregnancy is 63 days, though they can be as short as 58 days or as long as 69. If a dog has been pregnant for longer than 69 days veterinary intervention should be sought.

Don’t worry too much though! Nearly 98% of dog births go off without a hitch! However, brachycephalic breeds – dogs with broad skulls and flat faces like pugs or bull dogs, have a higher chance of problems delivering. In fact, breeders often schedule these types of dogs for c-sections rather than have them attempt labor. If you have a brachycephalic breed make sure to closely monitor her pregnancy and make a birth plan with your veterinarian.

Labor In Dogs

Often the first sign of labor in dogs will be a drop in temperature below 99° F (37° Celsius). A dogs normal temperature should be 101 to 102.5° F (38.3 to 39.2° C). This drop will generally happen within 24 hours of giving birth. A dams temperature should be taken with a rectal thermometer beginning 14 days before pups are expected. Although not all dogs will have this sign of labor its still a good idea to monitor the mothers temperature. Another sign that not all dogs will have is the filling of their mammary glands. Some dogs will produce milk before labor, in others the labor hormones are what start the milk production. I’ve had it go both ways with the same dog for different litters. Just goes to show that every labor is different!

Stage One

This is the beginning of obvious physical signs of labor. This stage may last as long as 24 hours before the first pup is produced. The dam may pace restlessly and sleep little as she can not get comfortable. Dogs in this stage will often have no appetite, and may even vomit. She may moan and pant as uterine contractions begin. Dams will have some vaginal discharge while in this stage from the softening of the cervix, and will be licking at their vulva.

Many dogs begin nesting at this stage as well by fluffing blankets in the whelping box, or they might want to be close to their person. With Laska, she wants to be as close to me as possible. For both litters she has tried to sit on my lap for the first few pups before moving to the whelping area to continue her labor. Having their person nearby may be calming for nervous dogs, so try to be available if possible.

Stage Two

The second stage of labor in dogs will show with stronger contractions. At this point, dogs may squat or lie down while pushing. This will usually last about half an hour between pups, though gaps as long as three hours have been noted. If a dam is having forceful contractions and pushing longer than 30 minutes without a pup arriving, contact a veterinarian for guidance, as they will most likely suggest bringing the dog in immediately. Be prepared to bring any pups that have already been born with you!

During this stage there may be a straw colored liquid produce directly before a puppy is born. This is fluid from the amniotic sac, as it usually ruptures during birth. Once the pup has arrived the mother will lick it to clean birthing fluids, and stimulate breathing and blood flow. The dam will chew off the umbilical cord during this time as well. It may look like she is being too rough, but puppies are very resilient. If however, she hasn’t started this process within a minute of the pup being born, you may need to step in and rub the pup with a dry towel. Make sure to clear fluid from the pups mouth and nose if you step in, and place the dry puppy against the mothers stomach.

Stage Three

This stage happens during labor in dogs, between pups, as well as at the end. It is the contractions that expel placenta, blood and other fluids from the mothers uterus. The mother will generally lick up and eat any remnants of the birth. It may look gross, but they will provide her with nutrients, and in the wild this would help keep predators from sniffing out the den. There is no reason to keep the dam from eating the after birth.

At this point the dog may want some water or food, or to go out for a bathroom break. She should be kept on a leash when going outside to prevent any pups being born outside accidentally. Sometimes it will seem that a dog has finished giving birth when they are only taking a break! With Laska’s litter, I thought she was done at six pups, but woke to find two more in the morning! This happens rather often when dogs (and other animals that have litters) take a lengthy break between births.

When it seems that things have settled and no more pups need to be born, make sure that all the puppies have a chance to nurse. The first milk produced by the dam is colostrum. This milk contains antibodies and nutrients to help the puppies immune systems.

What is normal after labor in dogs?

Labor will affect dogs in various ways. The dam may be moody or eat less for a few days. Refusing food for up to 24 hours is common. She may also have a normal vaginal discharge that will happen after the birth for roughly 4-8 weeks and should be a dark red or brownish green. Mild diarrhea and panting are both considered normal in dogs after giving birth.

Things To Watch For

In the following days and weeks there are several things to keep an eye out for, both in dam and puppies. A dog with any of these problems should promptly see a veterinarian for care.

Hours

An important thing to watch for in the hours after labor is a vaginal discharge that looks like pus and has a strong odor. This can be a sign of infection or retained placentas. If the discharge is bright red, that is another sign there may be an issue and the dam needs veterinary care. Or if she continues straining after all the expected puppies have arrived. If the mother is restless, nervous, stiff, shaking or has seizures she may be suffering from milk fever, or calcium deficiency. Pups should be removed from the mother and fed a milk replacer until a vet okays them nursing from the mother again.

Days

If the vaginal discharge changes color to bright red, or looks like pus or has a strong odor the mother will need to be seen by a vet quickly. She will also need to be seen if her teats are red, black, seem painful or are leaking brown or bloody discharge. These can all be signs of an infection of the milk glands. Disinterest in the pups, depression or weight loss mean the dam should be checked out as well. Extreme cases of diarrhea could be indicative of infection that requires treatment.

Weeks

While it is not uncommon to loose a puppy out of a litter, more than one in the weeks following birth is cause for concern. So to are puppies appearing distressed, reluctant to nurse, or not gaining weight. Check the dams teats for signs of infection if she is uninterested in feeding the pups, or seems to be in pain.

Is A Vet Visit Required After Whelping?

It’s entirely up to you if you take your dog to a vet after whelping. However, a wellness check for dam and pups can help determine that everyone is healthy, or if there are concerns that need addressed. The vet will check for things like retained placentas, unborn pups and unusually large amounts of blood or fluid. A shot of oxytocin may be recommended for the mother. This will cause uterine contractions to help expel any material left inside the dam. It will also help with milk production. The puppies will be sexed at this appointment, and information about care will be given. Also given will be a suggested de-wormer and vaccination schedule.

And just because everybody loves puppies:

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. This information is an amalgamation of personal experience and veterinarian advice given to me. If you have any concerns about the behavior of your dog or her pups, please seek professional care for them!

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Rookie Mistakes We Made As Beginning Homesteaders

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I’ll be the first to admit that when we first started our homesteading journey, we made a lot of rookie mistakes. We spent to much on things we didn’t need. Then we turned around and didn’t buy things we really should have. We skipped around when adding animals, buildings and tools. That is, until we learned to prioritize better. We have learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Starting a homestead from scratch, and building all our own infrastructure, is much harder than I had ever imagined it could be. Hopefully writing this all down will help you avoid a few of the mistakes we made!

Rookie Mistakes We Made As Beginning Homesteaders - Sled Dog Slow

Our biggest rookie mistake was not planning anything.

Sure we had ideas for what we wanted to do, and we wrote things down, but we never really had a set plan. There was no “house goes here, chickens go here, garden goes here” kind of plan. Not until we had already put the chickens too close to the house. So as we expanded we just threw things where it was convenient right then, rather than were we knew we wanted them permanently. If we had planned better we could have saved ourselves from a lot of the other mistakes. A homestead planning binder is necessary to keep everything organized.

Another mistake we made was jumping in to new things without preparing.

We’d get an idea and go for it. More chickens? Heck yeah. Pigs? Lets do it! Greenhouse and garden? Check! And then the inevitable fail. We wanted everything to work and be productive right away. Kyle was so disappointed to find out our chickens wouldn’t lay until the spring after we purchased them. At least we were able to push our pig order back to this summer, and have learned enough to hold off on beehives and other animals until next year.

We didn’t understand the weather in our new area well either.

Personally, coming from a desert area, I didn’t truly understand what living in a rainforest meant until we were hit by our first rainy season here. A little drowned garden and a lot of mud later, know I know how wet it can be! It also helps to know where the low spots collect so we can avoid building there. We also thought we were prepared for long winters, but they are much longer and darker than I could have imagined!

Also, we made the mistake of not budgeting from the beginning.

We have spent so much money on materials for our homestead, when we should have just invested in a saw mill from the beginning. Small purchases can add up really quickly. We should have figured out sooner that just because something is new doesn’t make it better. At least we have a few places we know to go for cheap homestead goods now!

The biggest lesson we’ve learned in starting our homestead from scratch is that it’s okay to go slow.

There is no reason to push to the point of injury to get everything done in one day. Pacing yourself in the endless work (it is endless) of beginning a homestead is extremely important. There should always be a realistic timeline for goals to be completed. This will save so much frustration down the line.

All things aside, we are still learning on our homestead journey. I’m sure there will be many more mistakes and lessons for us in the future!

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How To Hack A Chicken Killing Dog

 

How To Hack A Chicken Killing Dog - SledDogSlow.com

 

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Anyone who has chickens and dogs at the same time knows the anxiety that goes with introducing the two. Our dog, Link, killed 15 of our birds the first time he was ever trusted alone around them. Now he is left alone with them regularly and hasn’t touched one since. How did we manage this? By hacking Link! So no more chicken killing from him. Now we have a new rescue husky, Laska, and unfortunately she killed a chicken her first time around them. We used the same trick on her, and two days later she ignores the chickens when they walk up to her.

How did we manage this?

We used an old farmers trick for dealing with dogs that are chicken killers. I’m not sure where I first heard about this, but I’ve used is successfully on three dogs now.  And each of the dogs I’ve used it on has been a breed with a high prey drive. That leaves me fairly confidant that it will work on most dogs.

There are a few important details about how this dog hack works to get the fastest results. The biggest downside is that the dog in question has to kill a chicken. I would never suggest giving a dog an animal to kill as part of training it. However, if a dog kills a chicken and I want to prevent it from happening again, this is the training method I use. I suppose you could use a bird killed by another animal or that’d died of old age, but I can’t be sure it would be as effective. I’ve also never tried this method with any animal besides a chicken, but I assume it would work for other small farm game.

For best results, be sure to use this method the first time the dog kills a chicken.

When the dog is caught having killed a chicken, immediately scold the dog. This can be done in whatever training manner you apply to other training. Then take the dog and separate it from other dogs, placing it on a lead or in a kennel. Now comes important part number one: Make it so the dog can’t escape the dead chicken. I’ve done this on a lead by attaching the chicken to the dogs collar, or by placing the carcass inside the kennel with the dog. I’ve never had a dog attempt to eat the dead chicken after being scolded for killing it. Afterwards, leave the dog and dead bird in close proximity for at least 24 hours, and up to three days.

I’ve had dogs that have learned after a day, and others I wouldn’t trust to learn in less than 3 days. Use your best judgement with your dog on how long it needs.

Important part number 2: The only attention the dog should be given during this time is receiving food and water (and potty breaks if they are kenneled). Any whining, crying or puppy dog eyes should be thoroughly ignored. The less you can interact with the dog during this time, the better. Once the time is up, remove and dispose of the dead bird. Give the dog lots of praise for not eating the bird, and a bath. Then he should be ready for supervised interaction with chickens. A corrective training collar can help with piece of mind during the reintroduction process, though I haven’t found it necessary. After a week of supervision, I usually feel confidant about leaving the dog alone with the chickens.

Ronan and #agentj hanging out.

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I’m not entirely sure why this works. My best theory is that dogs associate killing chickens with being ostracized from their “pack”. I’ve never had more than an ear perk in the direction of noisy chickens after using this method. One dog would even get up and move if the chickens came near him! This is the only method I’ve ever found that works for retraining chicken killing dogs. I have no doubt that using this hack on my dogs has saved me a lot of heartache and flock losses. I hope you never need to use this technique!

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