Whelping Drugs. What are they? What do they do? How to use them? When to use them?
Thought I’d take a minute to run through a few oft mentioned drugs or aids that breeders or vets may recommend for you to have on hand for use during whelping and delivery of your litter. I’m hoping my fellow breeders will chime in with comments and suggestions to flesh this article out more so that it includes their experiences and the products they find most useful!
FOR THE BITCH
Calcium – use one of two forms for dosing
- Injectable form – 3cc in each syringe and up to 3 of the 3cc doses may be given for the larger dog like our Setter
- TUMS chewable antacid with 1000 mg of Calcium
Calcium will increase muscle contractions and is used when the uterine contractions don’t have the strength needed to push the puppy out. Calcium is a safe drug when injected subcutaneous (under the skin) or as a treat in the chewable Tums form. The PH level of calcium is very low and can cause tissue damage if all injections are given in the same general area. It is important when giving more than one injection to move them to a different area over the shoulder, such as starting out on the left side of the shoulder and giving a second injection on the right side of the shoulder and a third injection in the middle of the shoulder. Calcium may be used when the bitch isn’t pushing and it has been more than 1 hour since the last puppy was born. If the bitch is pushing hard (visible contractions) but no puppy is being expelled it us time to call your vet or emergency clinic.
Oxytocin (common brand name Pitocin) – I do not recommend using oxytocin without veterinarian supervision, please see the previously published article Oxytocin During Whelping (click here for link). Oxytocin is a natural hormone that causes the uterus to contract, as compared to the calcium which strengthens those contractions. Allowing newborn puppies to nurse will cause the release of oxytocin from the dam’s body, so it is best to allow newborn pups to nurse as much as possible from the dam between births. Calcium should be administered, and is recommended before any dose of Oxytocin is given.
FOR THE PUPPPY
Dopram (Doxapram) is a controversial drug used to start or stimulate respiration in newborn puppies following a difficult birth or a C-section. There may be serious side effects from the use of this drug, therefore before choosing to keep it on hand for use please be certain to understand proper use, administration, and the side effects that may be caused by use. I have no experience with this drug, never having used it during a delivery, therefore I cannot endorse or deny it’s viability. Dopram V is a respiratory stimulant which stimulates an increase in tidal volume (the volume of air that is inhaled or exhaled in a single breath), and respiratory rate (number of breaths taken within a set amount of time). It is important to understand that you would be wasting precious minutes for the puppy, if you have not first cleared the airway before administering Dorpram. It is more important that you to learn to safely clear an airway and stimulate breathing the natural way before administering any drug to the newborn pup.
Nutritional Aids for the puppy
Puppy Glucose Solution is my “go to aid” for every puppy, especially those needing a boost of energy to get them nursing during the first 48 hours of life.Click here for complete information “First 48 Hours for Newborn Puppies”
I found these two products that were also recommended by other breeders.
PUPPYSTIM provides immediate energy supplies from fast absorbed triglycerides (fat), essential fatty acids and glucose.
It also contains: Colostrum (Immunoglobulins) for complementary passive immunity for the first 24-36 hours of life. Natural, safe, friendly probiotic lactic acid bacteria to colonize the gut and exclude overgrowth of potential pathogenic bacteria such as E.Coli or Salmonella etc. A complex package of vitamins and essential mineral iron (in an immediate bioavailable form), improving a puppy’s early condition and resistance to stress and infections. A blend of special plant extracts of Guarana and Kola for stimulating puppies’ early physical activity and well-being to thrive.
NUTRIDROPS are a high energy, nutrient rich supplement.
Ingredients: Propylene Glyco, Cane Molasses, Beet Molasses, Choline Chloride, Methionine, Lysine, Vitamin A, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Di-alpha-tocopherol Acetate, Thiamine, Ammonium Polyphosphate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Potassium Sulphate, Magnesium Sulphate, Manganese Sulphate, Zinc Sulphate, Iron Sulphate, Copper Sulphate and Cobalt Sulphate.
As always, I look forward to your comments, questions, suggestions and advice in our comment section! Share your best puppy birthing ideas and recommendations please!
Photos courtesy of Silvia Timmermann
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ