Shih Tzu Giving Birth at Home
Welcoming a new litter of Shih Tzu puppies into the world starts with preparation. Proper planning and care can help ensure a safe delivery and healthy puppies. Here is a step-by-step guide on what to do when your Shih Tzu is ready to give birth at home.
Supplies You’ll Need
Gather the following supplies in advance:
- A whelping box – A confined space with sides low enough for the mother to enter and exit. This keeps the puppies safely contained.
- Whelping pads – Place several layers of absorbent pads in the box for easy cleanup.
- Heating pad – Use a heating pad covered by a towel to keep the whelping area warm.
- Supplements – Have puppy milk replacer and feeding bottles on hand in case supplementation is needed.
- Medical supplies – Sterile scissors, dental floss, towels, thermometer, gloves.
- Emergency vet contact – Save your vet’s emergency contact information in your phone.
Preparing the Whelping Area
Set up the whelping box in a quiet, dimly lit area of your home. The box should be lined with whelping pads and include a covered heating pad to one side. Make sure the temperature is between 85-90°F. Familiar scents help relax the mother dog, so you can place in toys or blankets she uses.
Recognizing the Signs of Labor
Look for these signs that whelping is close:
- Nesting behavior, like pacing and digging at bedding
- Lack of appetite and vomiting
- Enlarged nipples and milk production
- Discharge from the vulva
When contractions begin, comfort and encourage your Shih Tzu through her labor. Time each stage of whelping to ensure normal progress. Contact your vet if you see signs of distress.
Assisting with the Delivery
Be prepared to gently assist with the delivery if needed:
- Clear membranes from puppy’s face so it can breathe
- Tie and cut umbilical cord 2 inches from puppy’s belly using dental floss and sterile scissors
- Gently rub puppy with towel to stimulate breathing
- Allow mother to lick puppy to nurse and bond
After each puppy, count to be sure all placentas have passed. Contact your vet immediately if serious concerns arise during whelping.
Caring for Mom and Puppies Postpartum
In the days after birth, continue providing a warm, safe environment for recovery. Weigh puppies daily to ensure they are nursing and gaining weight. Monitor mom for signs of infection or mastitis. Your vet can advise on proper postpartum care for your Shih Tzu and her puppies.
With the right preparation and support, you can ensure your Shih Tzu’s home birthing experience is smooth and rewarding. Always rely on your veterinarian’s expert guidance throughout the process.
Understanding Shih Tzu Pregnancy
The Stages of Pregnancy
- Gestation is approximately 58-68 days.
- Nutritional needs change throughout pregnancy. Consult your vet on proper diet.
Recognizing Pregnancy Early
- Look for behavioral changes like nesting instinct, moodiness.
- Appetite fluctuations can indicate pregnancy.
Preparing for Whelping at Home
- Set up a whelping box that is safe, comfortable, and easily accessible.
- Gather supplies like towels, thermometer, scale to weigh puppies.
- Have emergency vet number handy.
Recognizing Signs of Labor
- Physical signs include restlessness, temperature drop, enlarged nipples.
- Behavioral signs include nesting behavior and appetite changes.
- Understand the timeline of labor from contractions to puppy delivery.
Monitoring your Shih Tzu throughout pregnancy and preparing for whelping is crucial. Consult your veterinarian for guidance and support.
The Whelping Process Explained
The Birth of the Puppies
- Overview of the three stages of labor
- What happens during expulsion as puppies are born
- Indicators of normal, healthy delivery
- Dystocia – abnormal or difficult birth
- When to contact the veterinarian
Assisting with the Birth
When to Intervene
- Signs that the Shih Tzu needs help during whelping
- Techniques for safely assisting with delivery
Handling Newborn Puppies
- How to properly hold, dry, and stimulate newborn puppies
- Ensuring puppies are breathing and nursing effectively
The key is being prepared, monitoring closely, and contacting your veterinarian immediately if concerns arise during the whelping process. With proper guidance, you can help your Shih Tzu have a safe, smooth delivery.
Postpartum Care for Mother and Puppies
Ensuring Mother’s Health
- Monitor the mother Shih Tzu for signs of complications post-whelping
- Veterinary checkup to confirm recovery is on track
Feeding and Nutrition
- Mother requires high-calorie diet to support nursing
- Puppy formula if mother’s milk is insufficient
Monitoring Puppy Development
- Weigh puppies daily and watch for health issues
- Deworm and vaccinate puppies on schedule
Health and Safety Considerations
Creating a Safe Environment
- Keep whelping area clean and free of hazards
- Puppy-proof as they grow more mobile
- Have regular vet checkups for mother and puppies
- Establish emergency plan if urgent care needed
Proper postpartum care and close monitoring ensures the health of the Shih Tzu mother and her puppies in those critical first weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long after birth should I take the mother and puppies to the vet?
A: Take them within 24-48 hours for a postpartum checkup to ensure there are no complications.
Q: When should puppies start eating solid food?
A: Around 4 weeks old, puppies can start weaning off milk and eat softened kibble.
Q: How can I tell if a puppy is not thriving?
A: Signs include lack of weight gain, constant crying, and low energy compared to littermates. Seek vet care.
Q: What should I do if the mother rejects a puppy?
A: Hand-rear the puppy by bottle feeding formula every 2-3 hours and keeping it warm.
Q: How do I socialize the puppies?
A: Start socialization in a controlled home environment with sights, sounds, and experiences to ensure proper development.
Consult your vet if you have any other questions or concerns about your Shih Tzu’s pregnancy, whelping, or puppy care.