It is my pleasure to have the opportunity here to pass on some tips that might be of use to some; they have certainly proved useful to me. It involves enticing the new mum to eat and drink, some hours after whelping.
For some bitches this is not a problem because they are food-mad. But for other bitches the ‘pleeeease – eat or drink something!’ becomes the mantra of the weary breeder, deprived of sleep for longer than they care to remember.
This becomes all the more important a couple of days after parturition, when the bitch’s milk comes in and her liquid and solids intake is more vital than ever if she is to produce good volumes and quality of milk for the babies. Not to mention the need for her own good nutrition needed to repair her body and restore energy levels following giving birth.
Tip one: Piddle Juice
This first tip was passed onto me by a fellow breeding friend and therefore I claim no kudos here. She calls it ‘Piddle Juice’; an unattractive name, no doubt, but with miraculous results. I describe it here as it was described to me.
Get some raw minced meat and place it in a heat proof bowl. Pour a cup full of boiling water over it and then ‘beat the b’geebers out of it’!
What you end up with in a bloody-broth liquid with partially cooked, floating mushy meat. Absolutely irresistible to the dogs! And if there is any resistance (for those extra fussy girls) I hand feed them the mush and in no time they are lapping and slurping away.
Tip two: microwaved sausages
I stumbled onto this by accident and quite recently. I happened to have two undernourished bitches who, despite all efforts, fell backwards during pregnancy – just like some women I suppose during human pregnancy. Things did not improve as the pregnancies progressed and my vet and I opted for pre-emptive Caesarean Sections for both girls.
One had two pups, the other a staggering six (a large number for this small breed of dog). Piddle Juice was working well in the first couple of days, but the girls – failing to progress to a more normal diet – started to grow weary of the same food. The cooked chicken and rice thing was no use at all.
Then, as it happened, I had loads of frozen plain beef sausages left over from a family function. I grabbed a bag of 8 frozen snags and popped them in the microwave on high for 7 minutes. What emerged needed cooling (they get extremely hot), so I placed the bag in a big bowl of cold water for 10 mins or so.
I then pulled out a sausage to find a pale gooey sausage with its casing dangling at its end.
What happened next is quite miraculous, I think at least. I offered the sausage to the nursing mum, with the dangling casing end first. She took to the casing and chewed it as she would an umbilical chord she would separate from the placenta and then followed through with the whole sausage. She repeated this for one, two, three, four sausages in a row.
The two under nourished bitches, who had been disinterested in any food, repeated the same behaviours when presented with the dangling, umbilical-like sausage casings.
Now I am no scientist, but as a professional dog breeder of many years it is my educated opinion that the similarity of the casings with the umbilical chord triggered some programmed response in the bitches. For the fact is that they took those casings in their mouths and chewed away at them exactly as they would when separating a pup from the afterbirth. It was fascinating.
Please note that I am not advocating that Piddle Juice and half cooked sausages will meet all the nursing mum’s nutritional needs. (Although I must say, the mums do add condition quickly, their coats get nice and glossy and they become bright and happy!) Rather, my message is that I have found this an excellent way to stimulate the mum’s interest in taking food and from this step other food can follow.