Mastitis is an inflammation and infection of the mammary glands. I only had this happen once to one of my bitches. It was very painful for the bitch and lots of work for me. One of my breeder friends is going through this now with one of her “first time mother” bitches. It got so bad for her bitch that she was bleeding and now she has had to take the puppies off of the mother at two weeks of age and has been bottle feeding the new babies.
Mastitis if localized to one gland by show no signs of illness. If it spreads throughout the mammary gland, she may show signs of illness. The bitch’s mammary glands should be checked daily for signs of warmth, pain or hardness. Her milk should also be checked daily for color and consistency. If the bitch has mastitis her milk may be off color and clumping. She may run a fever and even refuse to nurse her puppies. Upon diagnosis of the condition, treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. Treatment may include antibiotics, hot packing the affected glands and milking out the affected glands. If the milk remains normal, the puppies can continue to nurse from the affected gland.
When the uterus gets an infection and inflammation it could be caused by a condition known as Metritis. The symptoms will usually be noticeably 3-7 days postpartum and include fever, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, lack of appetite, listlessness, lack of maternal instincts and decrease in mild production. A diagnosis is confirmed through blood work and x-rays. The reason an x-ray is done is to make sure that no fetuses have been retained. The treatment for a bitch that has metritis is antibiotics and fluid therapy. Having the bitch spayed is curative if she is able to handle the surgery.
Pyometra is an infection in the uterus in which the uterus fills with pus. This is typically seen 2-12 weeks after a heat cycle. The symptoms you may see are vomiting, listlessness and an increase in drinking. If the cervix is open, a discharge from the vagina is seen. If it is closed then no discharge is seen. A diagnosis is made by a physical exam, blood work and x-rays. Ideally a vet may want to spay the bitch. If the bitches’ condition is caught early enough, she will need to be stabilized before surgery is attempted. If the breeder wants to keep this bitch for breeding, antibiotic therapy could be tried, but it usually is not successful.
Subinvolution of placental sites occurs when the uterus does not fully repair itself after delivery. This results in a vaginal discharge beyond the normal six weeks postpartum. Usually treatment is not necessary as the bitch is healthy and able to become pregnant again.
Because subinvolution of the placental sites, metritis and pyometra may all have a vaginal discharge, a proper diagnosis is necessary as metritis and pyometra need to be treated.
When uterine prolapse occurs, the uterus is pushed out of the body through the vagina. Treatment consists of manual replacement of the uterus or an ovariohysterectomy (spay).
Normally in a bitch the size of a German Shepherd, retained placentas a rarely a problem. Usually the placenta is passed within 15 minutes of each puppy and the bitch may eat it. Treatment may include an oxytocin injection.
Sometimes a mother will show a lack of maternal instinct for her puppies. I have never had a bitch do this although I had one bitch that was what I call a “dense” mother. She’d nurse and clean her puppies just fine, but lack of normal German Shepherd intelligence is something she didn’t display when it came to taking good care of her babies. She was very people oriented and cared more about you coming in to greet and pet her than nursing her babies. She would stand up in the whelping box and step all over her puppies. I leased this bitch and although beautiful in breed type, she was in “another world” when it came to true German Shepherd intelligence.
Some think that a lack of maternal instinct for a bitch to care for her puppies is due to genetics and the amount of maternal drive the bitch’s dam showed for her offspring or it could be illness or stress due to the owners own level or stress or poor environment. Sometimes a first time mom will need several days to find out what her role is being a mother and will need assistance from the owner in helping her until she does. She may need to be made to lay down for the puppies to nurse and be praised when she shows interest in the puppies. If she is going to come around and care for the puppies, it should occur within several days.
Also sometimes if a puppy is very large or is not positioned in the birth canal correctly, the bitch may have a difficult time delivering the puppy. I’ve seen puppies stick their little heads out of the birth canal only to be sucked back up inside the mother again. This always makes me nervous. You have to wait until the bitch produces another contraction and many times you will find yourself having to gently grab the puppy and pull when she is having a contraction. This can be painful and a tough birth for her and hard on you if you are delivering the puppies by yourself. It’s always better if you have the assistance of someone else so that they can hold the bitches head while you gently remove the puppy. No matter how gentle you are, the “momma” dog is going to feel pain.
So although most German Shepherds don’t have too many problems when it comes to whelping a litter, sooner or later you will run into one that does. Good luck and here’s wishing all of you happy and healthy litters of newborns! Oh yeah, the next time a pet person asks you “Why do you charge so much money for your puppies,” show them this article!!!!! Who ever said there was money to be made breeding dogs hasn’t tried it yet.
From the book: BREEDING BETTER DOGS....DogRead book of the month March 2002 This book was chose to be on the prestigious 'DogRead' ... as a book selection of the month. We only do 12 books or videos a year. The author comes on line for the whole month to answer questions on the book. To be selected for this group means the book or video MUST be one of the very best it its field. treshell owner DogRead..........This is an exceptional book. Easy to understand, gets you involved and interested in a subject that might scare a few away. I love it and often go back to remind myself of the basics.
My rating: Breeding should be done by educated breeders: (4)