Beanie gave birth to 4 robust baby boys! This is all she and I will remember of the night that both of us spent sitting in the whelping box, or rather our love for these precious boys has already eclipsed all anxious moments of birth. Beanie is responding with a tail wag every time she hears a word “puppy”, now an extension of her own identity. It’s the same wag that the sound of her name elicits.
Birth is an exercise in love, in complete refocusing on another being. It may be obvious for a mom, of any specie, but it is also true of a human who is an active participant in the miracle of birth. You have to engage open-minded perception to understand the pups. Canine newborns perceive the world very differently from us. They are deaf and blind. They feel their way around. Their most important sensory perception is detecting a heat source- their dam’s and littermates’. You can watch them moving their heads back and forth till they detect heat and crawl towards it. The most important help you can provide is making sure the surface they crawl on is soft and warm. Puppy’s well-being during the first few critical days rests upon a holy trinity of survival: being warm, fed and helped to eliminate.
Newborn puppies cannot pee or poop on their own. They rely on their mother licking their bellies and butts to stimulate elimination. This is a smart survival trick that ensures that newborn smells would not attract predators in the wild. It can also be quite taxing on mother’s digestion.
As distractingly cute as puppies are, it is Beanie’s comfort that I am concerned with. The boys are strong, all suckle vigorously, crawl fast, find one another in seconds. I don’t need to hover over them. Beanie has developed very loose stools. A combination of puppy poop diet and post-whelping stress is taking its toll.
I am trying to help Beanie eliminate pups while they nurse by gently rubbing their butts with a cotton ball slightly wetted with warm water (not as good as mom’s tongue but a close second). You will not believe how much they poop…
Another thing that restores Beanie’s digestive health is my “belly rescue” version of mother’s pudding. Mother’s Pudding is what it sounds like- a pudding given to a new mother by a breeder in between puppy births and then as she nurses her litter. It is a known remedy for low blood calcium level (hypocalcemia), which can lead to a potentially very serious post-partum condition in a canine mother called eclampsia. Mother’s Pudding also helps with milk production, gives caloric energy boost and as a fabulous bonus it is loved by all doggy moms. Medicine that tastes good!
The most common version of Mother’s Pudding uses a commercially available pudding powder (the kind you cook, not the instant kind , which contains emulsifying chemicals that can be dangerous to nursing puppies), milk and egg yolks. My own version is made from scratch and has pureed pumpkin and goat’s milk, not cow’s milk.
My Mother’s Pudding Recipe
- 5 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 quart goat’s milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 3 tbsp pureed pumpkin
Cook, cool and serve. My recipe does not include sugar, but it can be added for extra energy and palatability (up to 1/2 cup).
The pudding works! Beanie’s belly feels much better!
Another strong conviction I have is to not bake the mother dog in a whelping room kept overly hot. Beanie is most comfortable when the ambient room temperature is 72 degrees and that is how I keep the room. I know that many breeders insist on keeping the puppy room uncomfortably hot, with poor mother dog panting uncontrollably while enduring thermal discomfort on top of her post-partum one. I find this to be an undocumented myth of required high temperature for some imaginary benefit to puppies. Did the dogs evolve to be able to have their young in tropics only? The only thing factual and undeniable about hot puppy rooms is mother’s discomfort.
A happy mom means happy, healthy pups but for me, above all, a happy mom means my beloved girl is happy. I ensure that the mom has freedom to leave the whelping box as she pleases. By the end of day two of puppy lives Beanie is taking short breaks away from puppies within the whelping box, and leaving the box altogether for couple of minutes here and there. The fact that she has that choice feels important to me. My setup includes stairs to the whelping box allowing Beanie freedom to leave the box. The tile floor is heated, and there is a space heater next to the whelping box, which allows me to keep the ambient temperature in the room at a comfortable 72 degrees. The green insulated box is where I put puppies in (along with a warming bottle in the first 24 hours) when I change the bedding in the box.