SUCCESS: HARD WORK MEETS OPPORTUNITY
YOUR COLLIE'S PREGNANCY
The dictionary is the only place
comes before "work" (Unknown)
By Kathy V. Moll,
Deep River Collies
You've poured over pedigrees, visualized virtues, looked at
lines and accepted advice. You've taken the plunge and bred
your beautiful collie bitch to an equally beautiful dog. Now
the waiting and daydreaming begin! If you're wise, though, you'll
do your homework in between those daydreams. How do you prepare
for the blessed event? How do you get yourself and your collie
through pregnancy with the least difficulty and stress?
Before the general information, here's one important piece of
advice. For summertime pregnancy (It's August now), do not allow
your collie to stay outdoors if the temperature is 90 degrees
or more. Even with plenty of shade and water, high temperatures
can cause fetal death. Short outings for elimination are fine,
but allow her to take her real exercise in the early morning
and in the evening.
Now, let's make sure your girl is pregnant. The first three
to four weeks after breeding will likely be pretty uneventful.
If you're really curious, you can take her in to your vet 28
days post breeding. Palpation is one option at this point. The
puppies are approximately the size of grapes, and an experienced
individual can feel them slipping through his/her fingers. Ultrasound
is an excellent option and gives a rough idea of litter size.
It does, however, require some abdominal shaving, undesirable
if you wish to show your collie if she isn't pregnant. A blood
test by Synbiotics can be preformed at 28 days post ovulation
and is another reliable method; it can be done in-office with
results in around 15 to 20 minutes.
If you'd rather look for signs yourself, here are a few. Most
bitches don't show fullness until four to five weeks of pregnancy.
With a large litter, her tuck-up may begin to disappear. Her
vulva and nipples will remain somewhat enlarged after 4 weeks
while no pregnancy will cause them to go back to normal. Abdominal
hair begins to loosen and come out at around 45 to 50 days.
Some bitches experience decreased appetite at three or four
weeks post breeding. Some become super affectionate. However,
all of these signals can occur with a false pregnancy. One usually
very reliable sign is a clear, odorless mucus vaginal discharge;
it begins four to five weeks into pregnancy and remains until
whelping. It's easiest to spot on roughs because it gets caught
on the skirts. On smooths more diligence is required to catch
it before she cleans herself. Sometimes this discharge is quite
obvious and stringy.
No change in diet is necessary for your girl for the first four
weeks of pregnancy. Begin a gradual increase in food thereafter.
How much you increase depends on whether she's an "easy
keeper" and how big the litter might be. Overfeeding can
be more harmful than underfeeding, so use good judgement. Antioxidants
can be a beneficial supplement. A multiple vitamin is fine.
Over supplementation can be a problem, so err on the side of
moderation. A raw liver "treat" two to three times
a week is an old, but trustworthy plan. Buy a package of beef
liver; allow it to thaw slightly. Cut it into one to two inch
pieces and wrap individually in foil. Put these in the freezer.
Give a piece every two to three days; thawing before feeding
If you have one of those super picky girls and you're afraid
the puppies aren't getting sufficient nutrition, there are a
couple of options. First try frozen Bil Jac dog food in place
of what you usually feed. It's highly palatable. If that fails,
try the following recipe: mix by hand and form into 1 cup balls
-- 5 lbs. hamburger, 10 envelopes plain gelatin, 10 egg yolks,
1-12 oz. jar wheat germ, 1 box Total cereal, 1 cup molasses,
1 cup corn oil, and 1/8 t. salt. Feed one ball a.m. and one
Several days prior to her projected whelping dates, gather your
supplies. I prefer to whelp puppies in a child's plastic wadding
pool (medium size) layered with newspapers. The advantage is
easy setup and cleanup. Have the whelping box set up for the
mother and babies when whelping is complete. Plenty of towels
and newspapers are musts, as well as plastic trash bags, a baby
scale, two heating pads and a heat lamp. Other supplies include
alcohol, scissors, hemostats, small syringes with needles, 12
cc and 20 cc feeding syringes, flexible feeding tubes (size
depends on puppy size), baby bottle, rectal thermometer, and
latex gloves. Also on hand, have liquid Pepto Bismal, Karo syrup,
milk replacer, Nutri-Stat nutritional supplement, Pedialyte,
Amoxi Drop pediatric antibiotic, a bag of lactated ringers,
and a bag of 2.5% dextrose (get the latter three from your veterinarian).
Nitrazine paper (not testape) is a good idea as well and can
be ordered by any pharmacist. In addition, buy this book: Canine
Reproduction, a Breeder's Guide by Phyllis A. Holst, MS, DVM,
Alpine Publications. It's highly readable and makes a great
reference book to return to again and again.
So now you're ready for the big event. You've done your homework.
Next month you'll get your collie through the birthing process
and pick up some pointers on giving her babies the best possible
Kathy Moll of Deep River Collies has been breeding Collies
since 1974. She has owned or bred between 70 and 80 collie conformation
champions, approximately 30 to 40 in each variety. She also
earned the Collie Club of America Presidential Award for Smooth
Collie Breeder of the Year for 1998 and was tied for the same
award for Rough Collie Breeder of the Year in 1999.