Singleton Puppies: Whelping and Raising Strategies
For Valentine’s Day, Susan Patterson, moderator of the fabulous Canine, Fertility, Reproduction and Neonatal Issues Facebook group (invite required) and host Laura Reeves team up to talk about the dreaded Singleton… puppy that is. Susan and Laura discuss proper progesterone timing to help avoid a singleton litter in the first place, planning and managing a c-section if needed.
One is the Lonliest Number…
Singleton puppies present unique challenges for whelping and raising successfully. In large breed dogs, frequently the single puppy in utero does not release sufficient hormones to trigger the dam to start labor.
“This is again where progesterone timing, knowing your ovulation date, is important,” Susan said. “What most people fail to account for is placentas have an expiration date. You can't go past that date or you will lose your puppy, there's just no ifs, ands, or buts, and possibly your bitch. So knowing when the bitch is due is critical.
“Once you know when she's due, you can be watching for labor to commence. I would strongly suggest you plan a C-section as a back-up, knowing you’re probably going to use it, but plan it as a backup. Give your bitch the chance to whelp naturally and then pull the trigger.
"The other thing, especially a day before you think you're gonna have to pull the trigger, you're gonna wanna be monitoring heartbeats. You don't want your Singleton puppy to go into distress. If (the heartbeat) drops below 180 or 170 (bpm) I start getting really concerned.”
Management is job #1
Without the interaction of littermates, the singleton can overeat, under-exercise and may well need additional guidance to understand proper dog interactions.
Susan and Laura discuss monitoring the bitch for mastitis and the puppy to avoid gaining too much weight too quickly.
“The first thing I would do, is the minute she comes out of anesthesia is I would put her on sunflower lecithin,” Susan noted. “What the sunflower lecithin does, is it makes the milk less sticky, thins it down slightly, so that it passes through the memory glands much easier … it's basically one teaspoon of sunflower lecithin for every 20 pounds of dog.
“A swimmer puppy is, it's not just a condition of obesity, but that is definitely a contributing factor. So what you wanna do is you wanna have in your whelping box lots of hills and valleys. You wanna use pool noodles, rolled up bathroom rugs, anything to make that puppy work for dinner.”
Socializing singletons in other litters if possible and absolutely with safe adult dogs enables them to learn the critical life skill of appropriate interaction with other dogs as well as people.
Tune in for more of this great conversation.