Tag Archives: whelping

Whelping Drugs

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!


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.

Photo courtesy of Silvia Timmermann
Photo courtesy of Silvia Timmermann

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.


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.

Photo courtesy Silvia Timmermann
Photo courtesy Silvia Timmermann

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

A Letter to Breeders » Talented Animals Blog

I know how hard, heartbreaking, frustrating, strenuous and discouraging breeding Gordon Setters (or any other purebred dog) can sometimes feel. Every once in awhile we all need a thank you, and a reminder of why we persist. For a pick me up, this letter to breeders is on point, may it help you to feel better about the work you do.

This letter appears on the Talented Animals Blog

A Letter to Breeders

Dear Dog, and other animal,Untitled-3 Breeders,

Over the past few years, dog breeders have been included in much controversy, and I want to take a minute to address all “serious” dog breeders directly:

Thank you!  Thank you! Thank you!  You have so deeply enriched and improved my life, and the lives of nearly every person I know, and I want to encourage and implore each and every one of you to keep breeding and know that your efforts are well recognized and understood by many of us, even if that truth is sometimes lost in the clamor…

Johnny014Dog breeders are often vilified by Animal Rights zealots, by well-meaning but woefully misguided members of the public who have been persuaded that breeders are causing overpopulation and filling justsheepshelters, by rescuers and shelter workers whose views of the world have become so skewed by the war they are waging that they have lost all perspective, and by those in the media who prefer drama to truth.

Breeders are the solution, not the problem. You are the true heroes stewarding the present and the future of dogs.  You are the ones creating healthy, well-structured animals with great temperaments and excellent early socialization. You are the ones funding health research. You are the ones devoting your lives and resources to the betterment of the species. You are the ones who put in twenty hour days giving your puppies everything and then wake up three times during the night to check on them. You are the ones whose dogs are virtually never in shelters because you do such a good job screening and placing and taking back dogs. You are the ones who have virtually eliminated overpopulation within your realm and in fact created a shortage of good dogs such that it often takes years of waiting before a puppy is available…read the rest of the letter by clicking here.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Gordon Puppy photo by Laurie Ward, CO

The Power of the Breeding is in the Dam

Photo by Bob Segal from 2015 GSCA National Specialty

I’m picturing a long time friend of mine who is sitting at home reading this, nodding her head while silently cheering me on as we’ve always shared a common thought about dog breeding…”the power of the breeding is in the quality of the dam“. Oh, we’re not the first to say or believe this, and we won’t be the last, but if there is one thing that has been of the most value to me, it has been this guiding principle.

Does the bitch carry a sort of magical sauce that causes her contribution to a litter to be greater than that of the dog? If so, what is that sauce, how does it work? I don’t have a black and white answer for you, but I do have some reading to share, it is interesting, enlightening, and who knows, maybe it’s the start to proving what our gut instinct has been telling us, that the bitch genes carry more influence, that she contributes more to the litter than her half of the genes and what she gives through her nurturing.

Here is the first of the links for you, an article titled GENETIC X FACTOR SHARED written by Master Breeder, Barbara “BJ” Andrews. It’s a fast, easy read that shares great points. All you have to do is point your little cursor at the colored title, click, and a new page will open for you! Oh, you will have to do your own reading, sorry it’s not an audio book!

Photo by Bob Segal from the 2015 GSCA National Specialty

Barbara Andrews refers to information that is coming from the Thoroughbred industry and I have an article or two from them to share with you as well. The first is this (just point and click, you know the routine) Maternal Influences Make a Difference | BloodHorse.com.

The next link is to the actual abstract that founded the article Potential role of maternal lineage in thoroughbred breeding strategy

If I were here to simply offer advice it would be that, to be successful breeding dogs you must always maintain focus on the quality of the bitch you put in your whelping box. But, this is not new advice, it is ages old and comes from the experience of many wise men practicing long before me. Yes, the stud dog you choose is important, very important, but I believe that as the study of genetics moves ever deeper there may some day be scientific evidence to prove that the power of the breeding is in truly the dam.

Photo by Bob Segal from the 2015 GSCA National Specialty

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Know what to expect Before a C – Section

Photo by Bob Segal

One thing’s for certain, breeding dogs is not for the faint of heart. While often times things go beautifully right with our Gordon Setters, they can also go awry, and preparing ahead for possible contingencies, like a caesarean section, is extremely important. C-sections are not the norm for Gordon Setters but they most certainly do become necessary at times. Many breeders who’ve never been through a C-section are not prepared for what will quickly become a challenging and sensitive task. We are in charge of caring for the dam who is recovering and in pain from surgery, groggy and disoriented from anesthesia, and especially if a first time mother, faced with a pile of squirming babies she does not know how to handle, while at the same time we are responsible for the health and well being of those delicate newborns.

The most important thing you can do for yourself is to be as fully informed as possible. Experiencing whelping difficulties is very stressful, there is no need to cause yourself and the bitch more stress because you have little to no knowledge about handling a C-section. I’d advise you to take time to learn all that you can about this life saving procedure and handling the aftermath before your litter is due. You’ll be prepared and feel much calmer and in a better position to help your bitch and her puppies move safely through the event.

I’ve gathered several links to share with you that offer great advice, insight and experience that will help you navigate through a Caesarean.

This article from TheDog Place and published by Barbara J Andrews offers some great advice and a unique tip on how to help the bitch to more easily accept the puppies  CAESAREAN SECTION: BEFORE & AFTER COMPLICATIONS

RX for Whelping is a second great article you should read while there.

These articles are by Phil Zeltzman, DVM, Dipl. ACVS at Veterinary Practice News, navigate to them by clicking the titles

Caesarean Sections in Dogs: Post Operative Instructions from VCA Animal Hospitals

This article by Dr. Daniel A. Degner, Board-certified Veterinary Surgeon (DACVS) is located at Vet Surgery Central: Dystocia – Failure to Deliver Puppies C-section

Cesarean Section in Dogs: Indications, Techniques by Jill Sammarco BvSc, MRCVS DACVS, Anthony Kahn DVM found at  dvm 360source-image

I hope that our experienced readers will join in (by commenting or by email to gordonsetterexpert@gmail.com) to share their encouragement, experience, advice or other website links that they have found valuable to add to this resource.