Monthly Archives: December 2009

Toilet Training and Crate Training Your Puppy


How do I toilet train my new puppy

Toilet training your puppy is all about supervision.  You need to anticipate when he needs to go and then direct him where to go.

If your puppy has just eaten, woken up or had a drink, chances are will need to eliminate. He may start to sniff about intently and this means he is probably about to go. If you suspect he needs to go I recommend wherever possible bring him straight outside  to where you want him to go. He will usually go after you let him out of his training crate. If you can’t bring him outside then paper training is a good second choice.

The best way to ensure adequate supervision is to crate train him. There are other methods of training but I found crate training to be by far the best.

What if my puppy goes and I am not there?

There is no point in scolding your puppy for urinating or defecating indoors unless you catch him in the act.  If you come into a room where the puppy has defecated an hour ago, give out to him and rub his nose in it you will just make him nervous.  A puppy should always be greeted enthusiastically when he comes bounding up to you.  He will make no connection between relieving himself and you being angry with him an hour later. He will just get the impression that if he is left alone you will return and rub his nose in pooh! This makes him nervous.

So what is crate training?

A crate is a small enclosure for your puppy that he will see as his “den”. There  is just enough room for his bed, some toys and a bowl of water. Your puppy will not want to urinate or defecate in his bed so if at all possible he will hold on until he is let out.  I would recommend introducing your puppy to his crate slowly. Put his bed in there, and some chew toys and let him wander in and out. Once he becomes accustomed to his crate you can confine him for longer periods.

Whenever you let him out of his crate you can bring him straight outside and give him the command “get busy”. Ignore him until he goes to the toilet and then heap him with praise. Your puppy will be toilet trained in no time.

Crate training is can be helpful in many other ways for your puppy. It is useful for house safety and to prevent destructive behaviour.  If you are supervising your puppy and for example he tries to get into the rubbish bin you can tell him “No” distract him with a loud noise, or draw his attention to something else. If you are not present when he tries to get into the bin he may get a reward of some left overs for his bad behaviour! This behaviour will then be repeated! If you don’t catch him in the act there is no point in giving out to him for making a mess one hour later – he will have forgotten what he has done at that stage.  So while he is still being trained what is right and wrong restrict him to his crate or to outside when you cannot supervise him.

Is it not cruel to put my dog in a cage?

Young puppies can sleep for as much as 16 hours per day. Leaving them confined for short periods is not cruel, provided that they are released frequently to relieve themselves, they get sufficient time and attention to play and exercise. Most of the time your puppy spends in his crate he will be asleep. Leave him some toys to entertain himself. Your puppy will see his crate as his den, if you leave it open he will probably wander in himself when he needs to sleep, or when he wants some quiet time! You should not put him in his crate as a punishment.

What if he barks and cries when he is put in his cage?

If when you first close your puppy into his crate he starts to whine and bark the best thing to do is ignore him. Wait until he settles down then let him out. This way he will learn to settle quicker. If you let him straight back out he will learn to bark and whine and you (and your neighbours)  may have a problem on your hands. Remember behaviour that is rewarded will be repeated.

Do make sure that if your puppy has been in his crate for a while that if he starts barking he is not trying to tell you that he needs to go outside!

Will he need his crate forever?

Overtime when is toilet trained and he is house trained you will need the crate less and less. I always keep it handy if I bring the dogs to visit friends. This way they have a home from home! Dogs that are crate trained always cope well if they have to come into a veterinary hospital or if they are in boarding kennels.

Pet Passports


The Pet Passport is a European Union document that allows you to travel with your pet around Europe and then return to Ireland with your pet once certain conditions have been followed.

Pets from outside the EU can also enter Ireland, but only if they come from certain qualifying countries. For a list of these countries and further information please check:

If you are intending on travelling with your pet for the first time please be aware that it can take up to 8 months to get everything in order.

How to obtain a pet passport in Ireland

  1. Your pet must be micro-chipped to provide identification.
  2. Your pet must then receive a vaccination against rabies.
  3. We will then apply for your pet’s passport and enter the details of the rabies vaccination.
  4. You should always keep the rabies vaccination for your pet up to date.
  5. When travelling from Europe to Ireland the requirement for a rabies blood test no longer applies.
  6. You will need to have your pet treated for tapeworm before returning to Ireland. We recommend regular tick and tapeworm treatments if you are travelling in Europe with your pet.

Also before you travel be sure to read ‘How to Travel into Ireland with your Pet’ ( ) as you must have your pet treated for tapeworm shortly before entering Ireland.

Understanding Cremation


In most cases, your pet’s body will be entrusted to the care of your vet until you make a decision about what you want to do. If you feel you are not able to make an immediate decision, ask them to hold your pet’s body for you for a couple of days until you provide further instructions. Most animal clinics are equipped to do this without difficulty and are more than happy to provide assistance with making final arrangements.

Cremation is an increasingly popular choice and can be arranged through your vet clinic. There are two types of cremation: private and general.

Private cremation is when your pet is cremated on its own, and the ashes are returned to you in a small wooden box or a specially selected urn. If you wish to scatter the ashes in your garden or any other special place, you may feel free to do so. Some pet owners choose to keep the ashes indefinitely. This is a personal choice and one that only you can make. Cost varies according to your choice of urn and the weight of the animal.

General cremation or “group” cremation is when your pet is cremated with others. In this case, the ashes cannot be returned to you. Some people choose not to have the ashes returned. This is a less expensive alternative.

Socialising Your Puppy


Puppies go thorough a critical period of socialisation between eight and 16 weeks of age. During this period of time they mature very rapidly. If isolated from external stimuli and not exposed to the outside world, they can grow up to be fearful adult dogs.

Litters of puppies raised in an isolated location such as a barn, a garage or an isolated dog kennel often have little exposure to humans except those feeding them. If puppies never leave their confined, isolated quarters where they have been raised, they may never experience any external stimuli such as automobiles, strangers, loud noises or children running and playing.

Poorly socialised puppies can also result when they have been raised in the wild by an abandoned, female dog. If these puppies are fortunate enough to be discovered by a human and receive handling while still very young, they have a better chance to trust humans and be less fearful. If they receive no human handling before they are 16 weeks of age, they may grow up to be very fearful adult dogs that are not acceptable family pets.

If puppies are not socialised at an early enough age, it makes little difference if they have been raised by a breeder, a private family or in a vacant building; the outcome will usually be the same. Puppies that receive little or no human handling between the ages of eight and 16 weeks of age often remain fearful when exposed to new situations. Meeting their new family for the first time, the car ride to their new home, their first trip to the vet, and meeting children, strangers or other dogs for the first time can be extremely frightening for these puppies.

We will never be able to affect puppies raised in the wild by an abandoned dog or by breeders who don’t know how important it is to socialise their puppies. What we can do is not allow our emotions to override good, rational thinking when making a decision about which puppy will make the best family pet. If you feel sorry for and want to select the shy puppy that avoids eye contact and doesn’t want to be picked up, you may be setting yourself up for future problems.

How can we make sure the puppy we purchase will be well-socialised and become a good fit for our family? When surveying a puppy or litter of puppies more than 16 weeks of age that have had little human handling and are very shy and fearful, realise that they may always remain somewhat shy and fearful. If handled with kindness, patience and love, some of these puppies may learn to trust their family members but still remain somewhat fearful of strangers. A puppy acquired at eight weeks of age is more likely to become a well-adjusted family pet than one adopted at 16 weeks of age.

Acquiring a puppy prior to eight weeks of age can also create problems. These puppies miss out on important interactions that take place with other puppies in the litter. A puppy selected too young may miss out on the consequences of biting a littermate too hard. This puppy’s new owners will then pay the price when it bites them too hard while playing. Eight weeks of age is the ideal time for a puppy to adjust to a new home.

How do we get our puppies socialised so they grow up to be well-adjusted, adult dogs that are comfortable meeting strangers, children and other dogs? The key is to make sure your puppy gets exposed to everything he may ever be exposed to during his lifetime, while he is very young. The critical age of socialisation is between eight and 16 weeks of age. If not exposed to new situations during this critical period, your puppy may always be fearful when exposed to new things in the future.

After you have chosen your new puppy and had it examined by your vet, you can begin to expose it to new things. Your puppy will not have had all his vaccinations yet, but you may still take him to a family or neighbour’s home to expose him to children or friendly, vaccinated dogs. If you have small children, dogs or cats in your family, you are fortunate. Your puppy will become accustomed to the screaming and active play behaviour of children and will be exposed to other pets.

If you are a single adult, a couple without children or a senior citizen, you will have to go out of your way to expose your puppy to children of all ages. You can invite well-mannered children into your home to have supervised play with your new puppy. If you don’t know anyone with small children, you can often find families with children at local parks. Keep some tasty treats available for the children to give your puppy so he associates them with food rewards.

When you have visitors come to your home, when the mailman delivers mail or the deliveryman brings packages, do the same thing. Give them a dog treat; have them make your puppy sit, and then give the puppy the treat for sitting. This will teach the puppy if he sits for strangers he will be rewarded. This is an excellent way to prevent your puppy from jumping up on people. Your puppy will also learn that visitors will come bearing gifts, instead of being something to bark at and to protect the family from.

Enrolling your puppy in a puppy kindergarten or a puppy training class will have many benefits. This will be a way to take your puppy out of the house once a week where he will be exposed to many new situations during a critical period of socialisation. Be sure to choose a puppy training class where the emphasis is on having fun and meeting new puppies and their owners. Instructors should use only a buckle-type collar and never a choker or pinch collar. Basic training using praise and food rewards for motivation will make you and your puppy enjoy going to class.

Choosing the correct puppy for you and your family that fits your particular life-style is critical. Exposing your new puppy to pleasant experiences such as strangers, children and other dogs between eight and 16 weeks of age, is critical to having a well-adjusted adult dog.

Routine care/grooming


Vets and professional dog groomers see many examples of how poor grooming can result in major health problems on a daily basis. Part of the problem is because many people acquire a dog without giving any thought to the amount of time needed to keep the dog’s coat in good condition.

To help ensure that your dog not only looks good, but feels good too, here are some basic examination and care tips.

EYES: A dog’s eyes should be bright and clean with no sign of redness or excessive discharge. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth at least once a week to remove day-to-day build up. Expect some tear staining with white-coated dogs but if the discharge is thick or mucous-like, call your vet immediately.

EARS: Pick the earflap up and look inside at least once a week. The ear should never smell bad. Trim ear hair regularly and wipe with a clean damp cloth. Hairy ears or folded ears encourage moisture and dirt build-up, and invite infection. If you see a build-up of brown material, or if the ears are red and inflamed, see your vet.

TEETH: The same principles of dental hygiene that apply to you also apply to your dog. Plaque and tartar build-up lead to gum disease. Ask your vet how you can clean your dog’s teeth at home. A dry diet will help to reduce plaque build-up but often is not enough to ensure healthy teeth and gums.

Stroking the head and face with a soft brush helps remove dead hair, dander and dirt. Pay special attention to any folds in the skin, especially with wrinkly skinned breeds.

TUMMY: Watch for signs of redness, rash, enlarged nipples, or sores. With longhaired male dogs, you can trim the belly hair to help keep excessive urine out of the fur.

SKIN: Run your hands over your dog’s body at least once a week. Feel for lumps and bumps. It is common to find warts and cysts especially in older dogs; most are not cancerous, but warrant a veterinary examination.

Trim nails at least once a month. (Your vet or groomer can show you how.) Dew claws (located about one third up his leg) MUST be trimmed or they can curl around and grow into the pad. In winter, long hair between the toes does not keep your dog’s feet warm. On the contrary, it collects dirt, road salt and snowballs. Keep it trimmed short year round.

COAT: A dog’s coat should be brushed weekly. Trim areas where urine or faeces can build up. Be aware that a thick and matted coat encourages bacterial infection and other diseases of the skin, and it does not help to keep a dog warm or cool. A dull, dry coat is a sign of overall poor health and/or nutrition.

Puppy Biting


Puppies bite. This is not a form of aggression, but a form of play and communication. It’s important to train a puppy not to bite in play or to communicate, as this behavior can become unacceptable and even dangerous in an adult dog. This is a very important lesson for a puppy to learn.

For many puppies, all it takes is the owner “Yiping” when puppy teeth touch human skin for them to stop this behavior. Give a “Yipe!” and stop the game for about 15 minutes after you’ve had to yipe to get pup to take teeth off you. That’s what another puppy would do, and it helps the puppy understand.

This sound needs to be what a puppy would do when the idea is “Ouch! That hurts! I don’t like it! Stop it right now!”

In the litter, that offended puppy would then retaliate in some way, or refuse to play with the rough puppy for awhile. Some puppies have strong predatory instincts that are overstimulated when a person yipes, and for these puppies this would then not be an appropriate method.

Also, make sure no one is playing “mouth games” with the puppy, encouraging it to put teeth on humans for any reason. You need to react with your “yipe” or other intervention every time teeth touch a human, whether it hurts or not, so the puppy will understand this vital concept: no teeth on people. Even a gentle touch could get someone hurt if they jerk their hand away, and people will do that, especially kids.

My favorite intervention for a dog putting teeth on people in play is not a quick fix, but it has nice benefits and is very safe to do with most dogs. I simply hold the mouth closed for 15 seconds (work up to this time–at first it might frighten the dog to hold for more than about 5 seconds), while praising the dog. I say “[Dog’s name], Close Your Mouth. GOOD Close Your Mouth!”

This teaches the dog the words for the behavior I want–and eventually you can remind the dog about the mouth by just saying those words. But that stage won’t last long, because if you are very consistent about doing this intervention every time the puppy puts teeth on people, eventually the puppy will never do so at all.

By handling the mouthing from a positive point of view with praise–although it’s still a correction: done every time the dog mouths a person’s skin, it shows the dog the correct behavior of keeping teeth off people and praises the dog for doing it–you gain other benefits, such as accustoming your dog to being comfortable having someone control its mouth.

You do have to be consistent and stay with this over a period of time to get really solid results. Dogs not taught about teeth on people do not automatically outgrow it, so this is time very well spent training your dog. This method works on adult dogs as well as puppies, and is much safer for both you and the dog than harsh corrections.

Teaching a dog never to put teeth on humans is for family dogs. For some types of work dogs might do, the trainer may not want to create this strong inhibition against putting teeth on human skin. In those cases, the trainer may manage the puppy mouthing behavior by simply putting a toy in the dog’s mouth. We can definitely take a cue from these trainers by redirecting our dogs’ mouthing behavior into their toys, after we have carefully shown the dog not to mouthe us.

I also find it useful to teach the dog the word “Kiss” for licking. When the dog is highly stimulated in play and seems to need to touch me in some manner, I can remind the dog “Kiss” and then praise the dog for licking me.

In the early stages of working on mouthing behavior with a puppy or new dog, keep in mind that you want to teach any new behavior/command in a quiet situation with minimal distractions. So start teaching “Close Your Mouth” with the praise at times when the dog is quiet. Soon you can do it quickly and smoothly whenever mouthing occurs, even if the dog is excited. But you will in the process be bringing the dog’s excitement level down and helping your dog develop self-control.

The praise is important to helping the puppy or dog learn to have no fear of a human taking control of its mouth. You are praising the puppy for accepting the restraint at that instant, not for the mouthing done 3 seconds ago.

And be sure you don’t cause your dog to bite its lips or tongue when you restrain the mouth–it should be comfortable for the dog, as it should be any time you require your dog to obey any command of yours.

Crate Training Puppies


Every puppy needs to learn the skill of resting calmly in a crate. This skill will be needed at the veterinary hospital, for traveling, and for restricted activity due to illness. It’s also a lifesaver for many young dogs during the destructive chewing stage that starts at several months of age and can last until age 2 to 3 years in some breeds.

After a dog has become trained and reliable in the house, the crate will often be needed only for specific reasons rather than everyday use. One critical situation that can call for bringing out the crate again is separation anxiety. The ability to relax in a crate can save a dog’s life during this crisis. Usually it works best to crate the puppy in your bedroom when you’re sleeping.

If you want the dog to share your bed, wait until the adult temperament emerges. Then if it turns out the temperament is not suited to bed privileges, you will not have the difficult job of teaching the dog to stay off the bed. Teaching a puppy to stay off the bed from the beginning is much easier, both for you and for the pup. People tend to make the mistake of giving the puppy attention for making noise in the crate.

When you do this, you confirm the puppy’s instinct that being alone is death (it would be, in the wild), and that calling for help will bring someone. Having the crate in your bedroom for sleeping tends to help because the puppy can hear, smell and possibly see you. Not being alone, the puppy usually finds it easier to get used to the crate. Your sleeping helps set the scene for the puppy to sleep, too.

Keep the puppy on a good schedule of food, water and outings so the puppy’s body will have the best chance of making it through the night without a bathroom break. If the pup does need a break, make it very low-key with dim lights and soft voices and no playtime. If you completely avoid going to the puppy when the puppy is making noise, problems usually pass quickly. But make no mistake, lost sleep comes with the puppy-adoption territory! Don’t miss the chance to start your puppy off right, or you will lose a lot more sleep over a longer period of time, because crate-training will take much longer.

The worst thing to do is let the puppy yell for a long time, and then go to the puppy. Doing that teaches the puppy to persistently make noise in the crate. It communicates to the pup that you want to be notified with lots and lots of noise! It also causes the puppy enormous stress that can become a lifelong response to being confined in a crate. Adult dogs in this stressed state can break out of crates and badly injure themselves. This is not the future you want for your puppy.

What you want the puppy to discover is that nothing bad happens from being alone in a crate. You also want the puppy to learn that it’s okay to let you know of a need, but you will not come in response to loud racket. Check on the puppy after the puppy has become quiet again.

If your puppy isn’t making it through the night without a potty break, schedule it so that the puppy doesn’t have to wake you up and ask. Realize, too, that the puppy’s body will awaken and need to potty whenever someone in the household gets up. That person or someone else will need to give the pup a potty break. Don’t trick a puppy about the crate. Give a treat when the pup goes in, but don’t be sneaky about shutting the door. Don’t put the puppy into the crate when the puppy is sound asleep, to wake up trapped in a crate. That can cause the puppy to distrust both you and the crate.

Be careful not to abuse the crate. When you are at home and awake, supervise the puppy in person rather than using the crate. Puppies need exercise, mental stimulation and guidance from you in order to grow up healthy and happy. Too much crate time is not humane. Puppies sleep 14 hours a day or so. If the crate time is scheduled so the pup can use it for sleeping, that’s ideal. Make the crate a pleasant place to rest. A few safe chew toys and a treat can help the puppy relax and drift off to dreamland. Everyone in the household can sleep better with a crate-trained puppy.

Anal gland problems


Anal glands may become impacted, infected, abscessed or cancerous. Failure of the glands to express during defecation and poor anal or rectal muscle tone leads to retention of the anal gland contents. Such retention may predispose to fermentation, inflammation, anal and/or colonic cancer and secondary bacterial infection.

Clinical findings are related to pain and discomfort associated with sitting. Scooting, licking, biting at the anal area and abdomen, tail chasing, painful defaecation with straining are also common. Sometimes these signs can be mis-interpreted as a worm problem. In impaction, hard masses are palpable in the areas of the glands around the anus. The glands are packed with a thick, pasty, brown puss like secretion, which can be expressed with large amount of pressure. When the glands are infected or abscessed, severe pain and often discolouration of the area are present. Allowing this problem to persist without treatment can lead to anal tumours or cancer of the colon.

Fortunately this condition can be helped by feeding your pet a high fibre diet from the puppy stage. Although this type of diet may not be as palatable as tinned food, perseverance will pay off in the longer term with a healthier, less problematic life for you and your pet. The reason behind a high fibre diet for your pet is that it allows for the roughage to form a large, solid, bulky motion from beginning to end thus providing the stimulation of the anal gland region during defaecation.

NB: We strongly discourage the feeding of tinned food/convenience foods to your pet.

Remember, the way you start out with your pet will be the way that you continue and will determine your pets overall development.



Pets commonly harbour both Roundworms and Tapeworms. Your pet should be treated regularly, as these worms are a threat to you, your pet and especially your children. Therefore we place more emphasis on the human health aspect when dealing with this issue.

Puppies and kittens are most prone to roundworms. They pass out microscopic eggs, so a stool that is clear does not mean that your pet is free of worms. The most obvious sign with puppies that have worms is a “pot belly” abdomen. Puppies and kittens should be wormed every two weeks initially and then every month until they are six months of age. Remember to allow for weight gain when determining the dosage rate.

Pets over 6 months of age develop a certain level of resistance to roundworms. They should then be wormed with a complete wormer every three months in order to combat all possible types of worms.

We recommend that all pregnant dogs and cats should be wormed 3 weeks before and after giving birth to prevent passing worms onto their offspring. This is the most common way that new-borns pick up worms.

Lungworm is also becoming a bigger problem and is usually passed onto your pet from slugs and snails. Please ensure that the wormer you use is effective against lungworm as clinical signs of infection are often not noticed until it is too late.

Do not hesitate to contact any of our staff or your Vet to answer any queries you might have or to obtain the correct worm dose for your pet.

The lifecycle of Fleas and Tapeworms are closely related and interlinked and should both be controlled together.

Fleas should be prevented by regular use of effective products, especially during the six warmest months of the year if your pet lives outside or all year round if your pet is kept indoors. See our factsheet on Fleas for more details.



My bitch appears to want to hide in strange places. Is this normal?

During the last week of pregnancy the bitch often starts to look for a secure place to have her puppies. Some bitches appear to become confused, wanting to be with their owners and at the same time wanting to prepare their nest. It is therefore a good idea to get the bitch used to the place where you want her to have her puppies well in advance of whelping. Even so, there are a number of bitches that insist on having their puppies in close proximity to the owner. This may be in the middle of the night, on your bed. Be warned!

If she does start whelping in my bedroom, what shall I do?

It will be far less stressful for all concerned, including you, the owner, to allow her to continue in her chosen place. Make sure you spread lots of old newspaper and if possible cover the carpet with a polythene sheet which is then covered by the newspaper. Remember it is normal for foetal fluids in the bitch to be coloured green. Stains from this are difficult to remove.

Once the bitch has finished whelping try gently moving her and the puppies to your chosen place. She should be well acquainted with this spot prior to whelping.

If she is determined she wants to share your living space, endeavour to achieve compromise. A whelping box in a quiet corner of the living room which has been well covered with newspapers is preferable to an anxious bitch constantly leaving her puppies.

Should I be present during the whelping?

Some bitches like the owner to be with them the whole time they are in labour. Others prefer to get on with it in seclusion. Decisions can only be made at the time.

How will I know when my bitch is going to start?

Some bitches stop eating during the last 24 hours before labour although this is by no means universal.

However if she does appear to be restless and starts nesting it is worthwhile to contact your vet to let them know you think she is starting. These signs may last for up to 24 hours and are part of first stage of labour.

Second stage labour is the stage of delivery. Your bitch will start to strain and if straining continues almost continuously for two hours and no puppy is delivered, nor any sign of a water bag, you should contact your vet. However, most dogs experience no complications with delivery. Nevertheless first time mothers should be attended by their owners until at least one or two puppies have been born. If there are no problems, further attendance will depend upon the bitch. As mentioned previously, some prefer you to be there.

My bitch has not had puppies before. Do you think she will be all right left alone?

Bitches having puppies for the first time, should be kept under surveillance until you think they have finished, just in case they get into trouble. Make sure the puppies are being cared for by the bitch, particularly if she is still in labour. Some bitches are more concerned with straining to produce the next puppy than to be bothered with those that have already been delivered. If that is the case, a small cardboard box with a bottle filled with warm, (not hot), water, wrapped in a towel on to which the puppies are placed and then covered with another towel is a useful method of ensuring they do not chill while the bitch finishes her delivery.

How long will whelping take?

Delivery times vary. Dogs with fairly slim heads such as Shelties, Collies and Dobermanns may complete delivery of all the puppies within 2-3 hours. Brachycephalic breeds, i.e. those with large, round heads such as Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, tend to have more difficult deliveries and sometimes will produce one or two relatively quickly and then rest for a while before labour starts again.

If your bitch has produced at least one puppy and then does not strain again within two hours, your vet should be contacted. Similarly if the bitch has been straining continuously for a couple of hours and not produced a puppy it is important that she receives veterinary help.

Should my bitch pass an afterbirth after each puppy?

Each puppy is enclosed in a sac that is part of the placenta or afterbirth. This sac is usually broken at birth and passed after each puppy is born. This often is unnoticed since it is normal for the bitch to eat them and the hormones they contain help with milk production. Sometimes a bitch will have two or three puppies and then pass several of the afterbirths together.

I have heard that some bitches will have a puppy still attached to the afterbirth and run away and leave it, is this true?

This can sometimes happen particularly in bitches with their first litter in which case it is important that you ensure the puppy’s mouth and nostrils are clear of any afterbirth or membranes. Remember the puppy is born in a fluid filled sac that usually breaks during birth. If the puppy is delivered still in the sac break it as quickly as possible. Then clean the puppy’s face and nostrils and then gently blow to try and get it to breathe. If the afterbirth is still intact hold the cord between your finger and thumb with the puppy resting in the palm of your hand and cut the cord with a pair of scissors approximately an inch from the puppy. Holding it for a few seconds will usually stop any bleeding. Otherwise tie it with clean thread.

Then, holding the puppy in a towel covered hand gently rub it with the towel until the hair coat starts to dry. The puppy should then start to whimper and be breathing normally. The tongue should be pink. You can then offer it to the bitch. If she is more interested in delivering further puppies, place it in a box with a warm water bottle covered by a towel. Also cover the puppy to keep it warm.

What happens if the puppy is visible but the bitch does not produce it?

Speed is of the essence in such situations particularly if it is a posterior presentation. If the puppy is coming head first make sure that the membranes are removed from the visible part of the mouth and face. At least then when the bitch contracts the lungs will be stimulated and the puppy will get some oxygen.

If the puppy is coming backwards, speed is important otherwise it will suffocate.

What should I do?

No matter whether the puppy is coming head first of hind first, with a piece of clean tissue or clean cloth gently take hold of the puppy and apply traction at approximately 45° to the angle between the spine and the hind legs. Do not just pull when the bitch strains. Gentle traction will stimulate her to help by pressing. Once the puppy has been born, clear the membranes and then cut the cord. If the afterbirth is still inside the bitch, do not worry. It is important to stimulate the puppy by blowing gently down the nostrils and mouth and clearing any discharges, membranes, debris and also stimulating it by gently rubbing with a towel until it starts to breathe.

If you cannot move the puppy or if it appears to be painful to the bitch, veterinary help is needed urgently.

Is it true that the puppy will die if it is not stimulated immediately after birth?

If the puppy is born within the foetal sac it will be unable to breathe and that it is why it is important that if the bitch does not break the sac, you should do so and follow the instructions given above.

Most puppies break the sac as they are born but this is not always so.