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Hi Tiarra, congratulations on the impending birth of your chihuahua's litter! Birthing can be a scary time, and for chihuahua owners it is INTEGRAL to have a relationship with an emergency veterinarian/service that can assist you 24/7 should you have to rely on them for birthing assistance or a possible C-Section for your pup!! If you haven't already, you need to start calling around and finding out which facilities will take your pup if she starts to have problems during labor!!
It is very wise of you to be an informed and knowledgeable pet owner . Learning about whelping and birthing BEFOREHAND is always better than feeling panicked and confused when your dog is in labor and you are not sure if all is well!
Dogs are pregnant for an average of 59-63 days from the time they were bred. Length depends on your pet's breed and environmental factors.
If you start taking your dog's daily morning temperature with a rectal thermometer it should stay relatively in the 100-102'8 range . In the day before or near birthing, most owners note a full degree DROP in body temperature and often report body temps of 99' or 98'.
In the last week of pregnancy, you can definitely expect that your pet's mammary glands should be getting more prominent, full, and swollen. If you gently express the nipples, you will be able get a milky white watery substance called Colostrum from the teats.
Most females show nesting signs and restlessness in the days prior to whelping. They will try to make a bed ( if you haven't already made them a nesting box!) and spend alot of time getting comfortable.
Your pet may pant alot more, go off it's food, or drink excessive amounts of water and whine as labor approaches. In your chihuahua, the large abdominal mass effect in her tummy is likely making it very difficult for her to walk and to breathe!!
It is important that your pet be allowed to birth in a QUIET, dry, draft free and warm environment. If possible, it is always a good idea to sit quietly and observe her for any signs of needed assistance. Birthing is a natural process and many pets instinctively do all the right things without us ever having to lift a finger. On the other hand, some new mom's may not know what to do, and you may have to assist her in removing the placental sacs, stimulating the pups and tying off the umbilical cords.
If you have several days before your pet is due to whelp, you may want to call your vet and see if he/she has a video on whelping that can be previewed by you and your family this week. Many practices also have detailed labor and delivery sheets that walk you through the birthing process step by step!
It is important after labor and delivery that you have both the mom and her pups checked by the veterinarian to be sure the mom does not have any retained pups or placental remnants, is making milk, and that the pups do not have any congenital defects that can be immediately identified. Many vets will give your pet a "cleanup" injection of drug called Oxytocin that will help the uterus contract and expel any remaining uterine contents and encourage the letdown of milk in the first few days after birthing.
Due to their domed heads, chihuahuas are one of my NUMBER ONE elective C Section patients....and a breed I see alot of on emergency! If your pet gets through labor and delivery ok, the next big hurdle will be mammary gland milk letdown and adequate production without side effects on the mom. In general, I tell my clients to start feeding their toy and small breeds a TUMS flavored calcium tablet 2-3 x daily the week before birthing and all the way through lactation/nursing. Chihuahuas are very prone to a condition called Milk Tetany or Hypocalcemia, and many times it can be prevented without need for hospitalization or treatment!
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Best wishes to your and your pet, Dr. Smith