It was one of my busy days when someone called me early in the morning. They were asking for my help regarding their Shih Tzu that was about to give birth. The Shih Tzu was only on her 53rd day which means that it was too early for her to whelp. I instructed them to seek the help of the veterinarian because, according to them, there was already a greenish discharge coming out from their Shih Tzu. However, they still refused to bring their Shih Tzu to a veterinarian. Two puppies already came out without someone assisting their Shih Tzu. As expected, both puppies died. After attending to my own business, I immediately went to their place to check on their Shih Tzu. After long hours of waiting, the third puppy came out alive. Said puppy lasted only for 10 minutes. I was so disappointed seeing their Shih Tzu in that situation. They really don’t know anything about breeding and yet they still had their Shih Tzu mated.
Most responsible breeders spend time studying the Shih Tzu breed–standard, conformation, health issues etc. even before planning their breeding. Planned breeding usually takes months. You have to ensure that your bitch is in pristine health condition. Moreover, you must have enough funds available to cover vet check ups and other health emergencies that might happen during the breeding process. Much, much, more will be required of you once you have initiated the breeding process. It’s really great if everyone does planned breeding. Unfortunately, not all are very informed about it and just allow their Shih Tzu to get pregnant without any knowledge about breeding.
Breeding does happen naturally. True. However, letting nature simply decide whatever happens to an adult male with an adult female Shih Tzu might just lead to heartbreaks. I don’t encourage irresponsible breeding, yet, for the purpose of educating the clueless Shih Tzu owner who already has a pregnant bitch to finally do the right thing in assisting his or her Shih Tzu, that I am writing this article.
So how will you prepare for the upcoming litter? What do you need to do for your future puppies?
First thing to do is to determine the expected whelping date of your Shih Tzu. Average whelping date for a Shih Tzu is between 59 to 65 days from the date of last stud. Count 59 to 65 days from last stud and that will be your expected whelping date. With this, you can now determine when to file your leave in the office ?
You don’t need to give large amount of food to your Shih Tzu during her first four weeks of pregnancy. The rapid growth of the puppies starts from the fourth to fifth week of pregnancy. During this time, your Shih Tzu needs to be shifted from adult food to puppy food. Do the shifting gradually. You can use premium puppy foods like Orijen or Go Natural (both are grain free), Solid Gold or Eagle Pack. There are many brands of puppy food available in the market so it’s up to you to choose the best for your Shih Tzu. Vitamins and supplements are not needed when you are already feeding your Shih Tzu a premium puppy food.
Next thing to prepare is a whelping box. There are ready made cages that can be used as a whelping box. Just make sure the railings are small to avoid the puppy from slipping in between railings. You can also have your whelping box customized. You can use a carton box, a wood box, or anything that is shaped like a box. Just make sure that your Shih Tzu can still stretch and still there’s a space for the puppies. The sides of your customized box must be low enough to enable the mother to come in and out but high enough so the puppies can’t. Make your Shih Tzu comfortable in her whelping box by filling it with towels. Place the box in a quite place, away from other pets and people.
Other things needed are: betadine, alcohol, hemostat, dental floss or thread, weighing scale, cotton, towels, and a light bulb.
It is also advisable to have your Shih Tzu checked up by a vet two to three weeks prior to her whelping date. You can ask your vet to perform an ultrasound to confirm if your Shih Tzu is pregnant. This can also tell you if the puppies inside are still alive. Another option is to do an x-ray so you can see the number of puppies and also their position. In this way, you can determine how many puppies to expect and if there’s a need for you to prepare for a caesarian operation. Average cost for an ultrasound is around Php 650.00 plus doctor’s fee of Php 250.00. Same goes with x-ray.
One week before your Shih Tzu gives birth, start giving her calcium supplement. You may also trim the hair in the tummy area to make breastfeeding easier. Check the milk in every nipple by pressing it one by one. This is to check if your Shih Tzu has what you call “sour milk”. If you see greenish or yellowish pus coming out from her nipples, inform your veterinarian immediately.
Still doesn’t know if she’s in labor? Two days before the expected whelping date, take your Shih Tzu’s temperature in the morning and in the evening. Normal temperature for Shih Tzu is 38.5 Celsius to 39.5 Celsius. A sudden drop in your Shih Tzu’s temperature means that she will give birth within 24 hours. If, within 24 hours after the sudden drop in her temperature, she still hasn’t come to labor, call your veterinarian. Other signs that your Shih Tzu is in labor are: shivering, panting, and pacing. She will be very unusual of herself, will refuse to eat (in this case, just make sure she always has fresh water to drink), and will nest.
If your Shih Tzu is mature enough, she can deliver the puppies on her own. But be sure to be at her side to assist her in case of emergencies. Usually, when a puppy is born, the mother will automatically clean the puppy and cut the cord. But if she has a large litter, she may become tired. If the mother is too tired to attend to the puppy delivered, you must be the one to remove the amniotic sac by peeling it from the puppy’s mouth towards the tail. Remove the mucus from the puppy’s mouth using your fingers. Rub the puppy vigorously with a clean towel to keep the puppy’s heart beating. Before cutting the umbilical cord, tie it using a dental floss approximately one inch from the puppy’s abdomen. You can use a sterile scissor in cutting the cord but I prefer cutting it with my nails as to mimic the cutting of the mother using her teeth. Don’t forget to put betadine in the cord after cutting.
Let the puppy breastfeed from the mother. This will stimulate the mother to deliver the next puppy. When you see that the next puppy is about to come out, you should place the first puppy in a separate box. The box should be close enough from the mother and that she can still see her puppy. Make sure the box has a light bulb that can produce enough heat for the puppy as puppies cannot regulate heat by themselves during their first few hours.
Always count the placenta that comes out in your Shih Tzu. The number of placentas should be equal to the number of puppies delivered. Don’t let your Shih Tzu eat all the placentas as this might cause her diarrhea.
Remember to weigh the puppies. You will need to record the weight of each puppy everyday for two weeks. This will help you determine if there’s something wrong with her puppies. The puppies should be able to gain weight everyday. Be alarmed if they haven’t gained any weight in a day. So go get a paper and monitor their weight.
Sometimes, your Shih Tzu might want to go out after she gives birth. Let her do so. Give her time, she might want to poo or pee. Make sure she has an adequate supply of puppy food and fresh water. And don’t forget to give her calcium supplement once a day. She needs it especially if she has a large litter.
You thought you accomplished something already by helping your Shih Tzu deliver all her puppies. Well, it doesn’t end here. Now that your Shih Tzu has finished giving birth, this means you have larger responsibility. You are responsible to assist your Shih Tzu in taking care of her litter. You must bottle feed the puppies every one to two hours if your Shih Tzu has a large litter. You need to check on the puppies most of the time especially if you hear them crying. This means waking up almost every hour even if it’s in the middle of the night.
So think twice before you breed your Shih Tzu. Breeding is not that easy. If you are not responsible enough to care for your Shih Tzu and her litter, then don’t breed. Always remember that breeding your Shih Tzu entails a huge responsibility. It requires extra time, effort, money, knowledge and care from you. Should you feel incompetent providing what your Shih Tzu requires, just try to keep out and make the best option to have your pet spayed/neutered.
Breeding Shih Tzu is never a good business for it is not a business at all. Only breed for improvement and be responsible and accountable for the life of your Shih Tzu and its future puppies.
This article was written for Totally Shih Tzu. If you have some questions, feel free to email me at email@example.com