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How to (or not) whelp a chihuahua
Life can be funny sometimes. Mostly not, however and for this very reason I wish that someone had provided me with a very specific handbook on whelping chihuahuas when I first started out.
It's not like I haven't whelped a truckload of dogs before. I was a vet tech, my parents raised dogs my whole life, and for kicks and giggles, I was the one who traversed around the neighborhood delivering puppies- The doggie doula- if you will, complete (at age 12) with my own set of forcepts lovingling donated by our only in-town vet, Doc Peterson. Oh, I did cats too- not much to that. But dogs were my forte.
I lived in farming country so, the dogs I helped with were- big dogs- the kinds of dogs that deliver a full-grown goat disguised as a puppy- wait, let me amend that, 12 full-grown goats.
This is not what will happen when you deliver chihuahua puppies.
First- temperature is critical- NOT! See, that's a joke. Because, while I have found the old temperature drop to be fairly reliable in many larger breeds of dogs- ha! maybe yes, maybe no... You can have a chihuahua drop temperature for a week (talk about pins and needles) or you can have another one not drop temp, go outside to take a pooh and look! It's Junior!
I think a good indicator of a chihuahua coming close is the fact that they will demonically possess a bed space, dig, dig dig, stretch, pant and do it all in the very middle of the night right after you have hit good REM sleep. If this happens, you can probably bet she is in real labor. Oh yeah, not only should it be the middle of the night, it should be a Saturday or Sunday night so that if there is trouble- it is a huge emergency vet bill.
Lets review: If your bitch has turned into Cujo regarding where she wants to sleep, if she is panting, arching, digging and you are so tired that you could die- combined with the fact that it is probably the middle of the night on a weekend- your little love bunny is probably in labor. DO NOT ATTEMT TO TAKE HER TEMPERATURE AT THIS TIME! I gurarentee you, it will not go well.
The arching you are seeing is contractions. Are you seeing full-blown arching her neck, looking like a stretch with a strain added to it? Contraction. Usually their position is sitting up or stretched way out. If they are laying on their backs, stretching their legs, asking for the remote control and some liver snaps- these are not contractions. These are chihuahuas in repose.
Once you see the contractions coming harder and more frequently you should prepare for puppies. NO. Preparing for puppies does not mean getting on the internet and placing ads or updating your website. Preparing for puppies means having those items in place and checking that they are still there. Do you have a small pair of scissors, washcloths, hemostats, thread or dental floss, an extra pair of hands? Well, what are you waiting for? Get that stuff!
NO, don't stand there saying it is only day 58- these things happen, you could be delivering stuff under two ounces or over 5 ounces. Did you get an xray? Then you are ahead of the game. If not, you are living on the edge- that can be fun too. I prefer the xray method as I know how many and how big- if there is a St. Bernard in there with those chihuahuah pups, I worry about mom's natural ability to pass. That is called a C-section. Well, it is called a complication but lets cut to the chase, it's a C-section!
But before we jump the gun, we have puppies to deliver. She is pushing, you are seeing something- something drastically wrong in your eyes- a black bubble that looks like what the car mechanic takes out of your tank during an oil change looks like- hold on, don't call CNN, this is the bag of waters. Sploosh, it breaks. She keeps pushing, I offer ice cream or cottage cheese throughout these points, also raw hamburger. It works for me. Other people offer other things. DO NOT OFFER YOUR CHI HER OWN BANKCARD OR A WING BUILT ON TO YOUR HOUSE AT THIS TIME! That is just panic setting in and it will pass.
As she pushes, you see another one of those opaque bags, but this time you think, you feel, you know that's a puppy! It's not moving in the bag, oh God! It's drowning! STOP! No, it is perfectly fine at this point, once the bag is out, mom or you will break it, take the slimey little feeder mouse and briskly rub it with that washcloth. Cut and tie off the umbilical cord (you can also pinch the umbilical cord off and keep rubbing, pinching and trying to piss that puppy off. Get it crying. Mom should be doing something really disgusting and eating afterbirth at this point. The afterbirth came out with the puppy but it is not the puppy's malformed, hideous twin. It is the placenta and the rest of the bag that the puppy was in. You need to know this because this is the same point that usually small kids come in and are traumatized for life. "Mommy, Princess is eating her own liver that fell out!" Usually I am to busy to explain so I have come up with "That's okay, she'll grow a new one." Kind of like the Lee Press-On-Nails commercial.
If you have gotten this one squeeking, you can put him on a heating pad or with mom. Keep checking him (I say him because it's a boy- they are always boys- someone is producing girls but I have know idea who it is- maybe they are genetically cloned in some warehouse somewhere- mine, inevitably are boys.) So, put this guy with mom and be prepared to do it all over again.
Make sure mom is hydrated during this prosess. Don't do what I did my first litter, and even if she is begging for it with her eyes, do not give her a Margarita. Water is just fine, or chicken broth if you want to go crazy.
All of the little squeekers should be rubbed, pinched and put with mom. Watch them to make sure they don't "fade". Weigh them with that nifty little scale you bought. (I know you did) and record the weights for the first week or so. This will drive you crazy with worry and then I will have company. MIsery loves company. Now, if they all look alike you can put a little nail polish on the fur (not skin) to tell them apart. The best nail polish is one they make for kids. Non-toxic and mom wont wash it off in the night.
In case of a tragedy, please do not wrap the puppy up in paper towels, put it in a baggie and place it in the freezer if you have human children. Someone I know did this and had to answer all kinds of questions from the school counselor on tuesday just as I (I mean she) was trying to figure out how she had missed a pediatricians appointment for that same nine year old. The counselor, obviously never having been raised around pets, felt that this child was traumatized. This was the same child who assisted the vet for the last C-section. Well, this is just a warning-take it how you will.
Now, it goes without saying that, since I'm not there with you, and if you see your dog straining for a length of time (a length of time being two hours) with out producing anything- or if you see something that you are worried about, (a puppy that you can see being stuck, a foot but nothing else, no contractions after the first puppy and it's been a few hours) well, get thee to a vet.
Also, just so you know, during this process, some chihuahuas have big teeth.
As for the new happy family, enjoy the fact that mom eats the poop for about 4-6 weeks. Then it's all up to you. Beleive me. I think that is the only great thing about the small litter size.