In preparation for your Labrador Retriever whelping it’s best to start reading her temperature a few days prior to the big event, begin taking her temperature approximately 58 days after the initial breeding.
A bitch’s temperature will decrease from around the 101.4 down to 99 degrees Fahrenheit or below, this will occur literally a few hours before your Labrador Retriever bitch is due to begin whelping. So you are observing her temperature for the fairly drastic drop to below the 99 degrees, this really is the best indication of imminent whelping.
There are other signs that you will see, she will become restless, uncomfortable, she may lick around her vulva area, she will probably lose her appetite & will begin to pant fairly heavily.
The bitch will begin to push & strain & she might dig at the bedding, do not worry, this is all normal & you need to remain calm for her sake. She will pant heavily especially between her contractions, if you observe the muscles along her back you will see the contractions happening. They will begin at the top of her body & travel all the way down.
If you find yourself an hour or so past the start of her labour & there are no puppies to be seen then try to persuade her to have a walk outside in the garden, just a slow trundle around, this can aid the labour to continue. If the labour proceeds for three hours without any puppies then you need to call your vet immediately & be aware that you will probably have to take your Labrador Retriever bitch to the vet.
We will go on the assumption that all is normal with your Labrador Retriever whelping & your bitch is having faster contractions now, she will start to really push seriously now. You will see a water sac this will probably just break & then the puppy will be delivered. The placenta might be ready to be delivered now or not, there are mixed opinions regarding the bitch consuming the placenta. If you are unsure you could perhaps permit her to eat just one for the nutritional content & then keep the others away from her.
You must guarantee that there is a placenta for each of the puppies born; this is imperative as if she should retain a placenta inside her she could be at risk from developing a serious uterine infection. If you do not wish her to consume all the placentas then you must assist her in cleaning the puppies.
Firstly clean the water sac from the puppy’s nose & mouth, then you want to hold the pup upside down this will help to clear any fluid/mucus from its throat & nose. Now you need to rub the puppy with a clean, dry towel. Rub it fairly vigorously, almost hard, until it lets out its first squeak. Rubbing the puppy in this way will clean it & also assist in stimulating it to take its first breath.
It’s very important to allow the puppies to nurse form their mother quickly as the milk that she produces within the initial twenty four hours is called ‘colostrom’ & it carries in it immunities that will help the puppies fight off any infections.
Check all the puppies out for abnormalities & take the bitch & the puppies to see your vet within the first five to six hours after the whelping. They can then ensure the bitch does not have any unborn puppies left inside her & that all the puppies are healthy.
The most important thing to remember is to remain calm during your Labrador Retriever whelping as this will assist her greatly, be there for her if she needs help. Also remember that your vet is there to help you if required. To witness the birth of your bitch’s puppies is a marvelous act of nature so, however nervous you are try to also enjoy the happy event!