Raising bulldogs is a total hands on experience. One thing to remember with bulldogs, and especially so with newborn puppies, there is no "always" or "never". It is important to have a good mentor/breeder and vet to work with, because there are so many things that can come up. Anyone that says they have never had a particular problem just hasn't been around long enough. The longer you have been in the dogs, and the more litters you have, you are always learning something new and different. That is part of the benefits of belonging to a club and knowing other Bulldoggers. What might work for one might not work for another, but this is how you learn.
The most critical period of a dog's life is during the first week. The early care and environment of the newborn puppy are of the utmost importance. Early causes of death can usually be attributed to difficult whelping, congenital or genetic defects, environmental factors (i.e., too cool or drafty), carelessness of the dam, infection, viruses, toxic milk or insufficient nourishment.
Things to always keep on hand in case of an emergency: a box of Amoxi-Drops (a broad spectrum antibiotic that needs to be reconstituted with water), anti-biotic ointment, anti-diarrhea medication (such as Biosol, Kaolin-Pectin, or Neo-Pectilin), thermometer, Vaseline, and Karo syrup or honey, tube feeding kit (#10 feeding tube, with 10cc feeding syringe), and several cans of puppy formula, such as Esbilac (even though I prefer a homemade formula for normal supplementation, many times during an emergency there isn't enough time to mix formula). It is very important that a puppy get its mothers milk if at all possible during the first 5 days to protect it from infection and give it antibodies from the mothers milk
The following is a listing of things you need, or that might help, with a litter of puppies. This is especially useful for first-timers. Just remember, this doesn't cover everything that can come up. That is what a phone and a network of friends are for. And, if you hear of or come across another hint, please share it with others.
Heating pad/hot water bottle
Variety of nipples/preemie/firmer
Plastic wading pool
Newspapers (lots-start saving when you breed the bitch)
You can purchase pre-made formula from your vet, and out die of teh mothers milk it is best, but this formula is cheaper, was designed by U.C. Davis, and provides all the nutrition. It's been used by countless people and gives good results.
l can Carnation evaporated milk ( or some prefer canned goat's milk. many breeders use it instead of evaporated milk, both can be found in the bakery section of your grocery store, use one or the other but not both) add, Equal part of plain unflavored Pedialyte (use in place of water: example, 12 ounces of canned goats milk + 12 ounces of pedialyte, (found in the baby section of your grocery store) plus: l egg yolk (yellow part only) plus: l tbl. liquid pectin (found in the bakery section of grocery store, if you cant find this use honey in place of it, same amount, or you may use 1/2 tbl honey and 1/2 tbl liquid pectin.)
NOTE - The Pedialyte can sometimes cause the puppies to start getting constipated when they get to be a few weeks old. If this seems to be, change to bottled water to make the formula. THINGS TO REMEMBER
Because of this inability to maintain body temperature, the greatest danger during the first week of life, is chilling. Books on newborn puppies suggest keeping the environment 90 to 95 degrees, but most breeders will tell you this is way too hot. Keeping the litter box tempature between 83 -86 degrees (with no drafts) for the first few days is usually adequate. The puppies of course, get their best radiant heat from the dam! Other sources of warmth can be heating pads or heat lamps. If using a heating pad, monitor the intensity of heat, as pups have been known to cook on pads set on high settings.
There are many excellent heat lamps on the market but remember to be careful as Heat lamps have been known to start fires. The temperature on the puppies (1 inch above the bottom of the box) should be about 85-88 degrees with a corner that is slightly cooler and allow them to scoot to where there feeling the best at. There should also be plenty of clean blankets and this will allow for regulation of temperature. If a puppy has its mouth open its to hot. If a puppy is to cool it often won't show anything but can be deadly.
Hydration is one of the most important things to monitor in new pups, as it can be one of the first signs of trouble. This can be checked by pinching the skin on the back of the neck or on the top of the back. If the pinched skin stays creased, the puppy is dehydrated and needs fluid replacement. Also a dehydrated pup's coat will sometimes have a ruffled or scruffy appearance Dehydration can either be a result of inadequate nourishment, too much heat or a result of sickness. Accompanied by diarrhea and/or vomiting, it can be dangerous and fatal.
For the first couple of days after birth, check the bitch's milk supply to make sure that she has an adequate amount for feeding the litter. If a puppy pulls on the nipple and cries out in frustration, check the milk. This can be done by gently squeezing the breasts below the nipple. Milk should flow freely! Sometimes a bitch will have adequate milk on the day of whelping, but the second day it will disappear, only to return on the next day. Also following C-Sections, the milk can be really slow to come in. If the litter is small in number, be sure to check the breasts, by making sure that all are being used and emptied.
Beware of breasts that are hot to the touch and have a packed "hard" feeling. If milk is not cleared out regularly, you run the risk of an infection developing. Breasts have been known to abscess. It's a good idea to check the bitch's temperature the first couple of days following whelping. Anything over 103 degrees, should be looked at with great suspicion!
WE STRONGLY suggest you use regualr newborn or infant bottles and nippes, those ones you buy for cats and dogs,ferrets,etc are really no good, it has a tendency of allowing air in the stomach. I'd far rather bottle feed, and for myself use the tube feeding only if it is a weak puppy, or large litter,etc. I feel the sucking on a nipple, the handling and holding of the puppy is so very important to their overall development. The puppy should be held -head upwards/body,tail down in a 45 to 90 degreee angle when bottle feeding. Don't forget to poop the puppies or have mom lick them.
A bulldog's normal temperature is between 101 and 102. Within a few days prior to the first due date, you need to start taking the bitch's temperature a couple times a day. It can sometimes go down to below 100, but within a few hours be back up to normal. When it stays below 100, down in the 99s, for a good period of time, then it is time to call the vet. It's close to time to have puppies. Following the C-section, clean the bitch's incision area 3x daily. Wipe nipples/area before each feeding.
The laundry basket mentioned is to keep the puppies warm and safe. You can purchase or have made an incubator as some active breeders have, but to do the same job you can use a laundry basket. Put down a layer of towels, then either the heating pad or hot water bottle, (heating pad should be at lowest setting) then another layer of towels. Always put a large towel over the top to keep any drafts off the puppies. Place the heating pad so it covers about half of the bottm of the basket, this way puppies can move away if they get to hot.IMPORTANT
Puppies: Keep clean-Keep warm. If puppies and their blankets are not kept clean, it is very easy to come down with a staph infection and diarrhea which is serious. Puppies can go downhill quickly. It is equally serious if the puppies get chilled. Avoid drafts, etc. Even if you have them in a basket with a heating pad, you need to cover the basket with a towel to keep out drafts. A chilled puppy has to be warmed up. Put it in a pocket so that it's warm and jiggled as you walk around. Or put it in your bra for your body heat. There are so many little ways to accomplish it. Don't worry about feeding formula to a chilled puppy because it will have the opposite reaction. Their body cannot handle the food and makes it all the worse for the puppy. So first thing is to get the puppy warmed up slowly.
Newborn puppies cannot regulate their body temperature or body functions such as urinating and stools. It is important that they are pottied at each feeding. They might not have a stool each time, but they will urinate. This is what the mother does when she licks them. But some mothers don't want to be bothered, especially the first few days. After that, she will become a good mommy. Some might start off being good, then after a few days, or even a couple of weeks, not want to be bothered and might even be nasty to the puppies such as snapping and biting them. Always be careful and watch. Don't leave her alone until the pups are big enough not to be laid on, or big enough that you know that the bitch is a good mother.
If the bitch will not clean the babies, you must be sure to do it. Using a kleenex, gently rub the area to stimulate their potty. Then be sure to clean them well. Make sure to check them even if the mother cleans them. Often the stool will get stuck to the tail and be dry. If that happens, or if the puppies seems to be straining and are constipated, try the following. Run warm water in the sink slowly. Put a drop of soap on their behinds, and wash and massage their behinds. It will get the tail and poop unstuck, clean them up, and cause them to go potty real well. Make sure they are well rinsed, and dried thoroughly, (remember....so they don't get chilled). If the little bottoms are red and sore, use some Desitin ointment.
If the bitch has good milk and puppies get full with her, then they won't need to be bottle fed. But watch and observe. Sometimes puppies can seem to nurse and "be full" and fall asleep, but wake up soon, fussing. Sometimes they don't have good sucking action, and are not getting a lot of nutrition. Or, the bitch doesn't have a lot of milk, but the pups are just sucking till they are tired, not full. In that case, they will need to be supplemented with a bottle. Also, when you don't have the time to sit and wait for them all to get full with mother (such as late night feedings), put them on mom and let them nurse for five minutes. Then start with one puppy and the bottle to "top them off", working your way through the puppies. This also gives you a good idea how much they are eating.
If you have small, weak puppies, you will need to tube feed them. They will not have the strength to nurse. You need to have someone experienced show you how to tube. It is too difficult to explain here and if you don't know what you're doing, you can get milk in their lungs and lose the puppy. But, don't let tubing scare you off. It has pulled thousands of weak and preemie puppies through.
For the first 3- 5 days an average puppy (10-14ouncer) will take about 10 cc's per every 3-4 hours, you shoudl break it into feedings every 2 hours, 5cc per feeding. If it is a good size puppy, a pound or more, then they might take more. Toward the end of a week they will increase the food need to about 15-20 cc or more.(remember there is 30 ounce) Also, for the first week they should eat every two hours. If they are good size babies, you can sometimes go longer. By the second week, as long as you don't have any problem ones and they are of good size, you can usually go three to four hours between feedings.
Average weight of newborns is 10-14 oz. I've had and pulled through 5-6 oz babies, but it's tough. You have to feed less, but more often. Good size puppies are 14-18 oz. They're great. It seems like they are almost ready to walk!!!
Regarding tube feeding: For reasons such as, mastitis, no milk, death of the mother or just plain supplementing big litters, etc., tube feeding may be required. Using a human infant bottle is the best method and should be your first option for feeding when a mother can't. However, there is times when tube feeding is better like with weak puppies and those who won't suckle on a nipple. Contrary to popular myth, it is extremely difficult to get a tube into the lungs. If a tube were to get into a lung the puppy would immediately go into coughing spasms. You do have to watch a tube doubling back, which is why we hate the small flimsy tubes (such as #8) and you also have to make sure the tube is inserted far enough into the stomach.
Take the tube, measure from the nose, up over the ear and down to the last rib and that is the distance to insert it. 1-2 cc is plenty to feed puppies the first 12 feedings every few hours apart. Also be careful how quickly you press the plunger of the syringe. It should be pressed slowly and once all the formula is expelled, the tube should be removed quickly. Milk bubbling from the nose means the puppy is being over fed. This method killed more puppies when food was allowed to come back up. When milk bubbles from the nose, you run the risk of overfeeding the puppy and of causing inhalation pneumonia. The amount of formula tubed into puppies, especially small pups, should be carefully regulated (small amounts more often). It is safer to underfeed than overfeed.
Assist the mother in feeding: Bulldog mothers usually don''t make the best nursing mothers. Always be with them when the Mom is in the box. Help lay her down and bring the puppies to the mothers nipples, squeeze each nipple slightly to get a drop or two of milk out and rub the nose/mouth of the puppy to it and assist in getting him latched on. Make sure the head is always elevated slightly to avoid the milk flushing back out the nose or mouth. Use a small towel propped under the puppy to do this.
When finished make sure the mother "POOPS" the puppies by placing there rear end to her mouth and she should lick them until they eliminate. Clean well and return to warm box and remove mother from box area. If hand raising put a small dab of Vaseline on your finger and rub the genitals of the puppies until they eliminate. Don't rub real hard, kind of about the same pressure as you would use to rub your own eye. Clean the puppies well.
Puppy stools are normally fairly soft, but formed and usually are yellow/brown in color. I have seen green puppy stools and stools that have an appearance of bunches of tiny seeds. If all else seems normal, these phenomena seem to be harmless and short-lived. Watery diarrhea, however, can be very serious if left unchecked. There can be many causes such as, the dam's diet or infection. Diarrhea in combination with vomiting usually means infection. Check the dam's milk and discharge from the vulva.
If either appear abnormal, consult a Veterinarian. If her milk has clear streaks and/or blood or appears yellow/green, pull the puppies until the situation is diagnosed and corrected. And keep in mind that in the beginning stages, bacteria infected milk can look completely normal. It doesn't hurt to monitor the mother's temperature for a couple of days, following whelping. Keep an eye on anything over 103 degrees and consult your Vet. It could indicate an infection in the uterus or in the milk glands. When in doubt, call the Vet!
Low Blood Sugar--There is a low blood sugar phenomenon that sometimes can occur the first few day's of a puppy's life. Everything will go along fine and all of a sudden, a puppy will stiffen like a board. Usually the tongue will stick out between the lips. This is generally the result of low blood sugar, especially if more than one puppy is doing this. A Veterinarian can do a blood test to determine if this is the problem. The simple solution is to start supplementing the puppy with a formula that has Karo syrup in it. Or the puppy can be tube fed a sugar/water solution. Or a dextrose solution can be given under the skin. Sometimes this phenomenon goes hand in hand with dehydration. This stiffening routine is basically a seizure and it has nothing to do with epilepsy.
It is totally dietary and usually means either the dam does not have adequate milk or the puppies are not getting enough to eat. It can happen to the largest puppies and the smallest. If left untreated, it will most assuredly lead to the death of the puppy. Following a day or two of supplementing, usually the problem corrects itself (if the dam has sufficient milk)! A drop of honey placed on in the mouth of newborn puppies and maybe once per day for 3 days will also help blood sugar levels and give them a boost.
It is a good idea to get a little scale. Just like with humans, the first day or so after birth, they will normally drop an ounce or so in body weight. But, after that, they should regularly gain an approximately an ounce a day. Weighing and charting the weights is a good way to keep an eye on their progress. weight should be about a pound a week by the 4th week. A 4 week old pup should weigh about 4 pounds,etc. Fading puppies
The syndrome whereby puppies, apparently normal and healthy at birth, fail to thrive and eventually die, is commonly called the fading puppy syndrome. Puppies are very vulnerable to any form of stress because of their immature immune, cardiovascular (heart) and respiratory (lungs) systems at birth. Factors such as chilling, malnutrition, congenital abnormalities, trauma and infection have consistently proven to be fatal to puppies, especially in the first 2 weeks of life when nearly 80% of puppy mortalities occur.
Enteritis and pneumonia is the two most common diseases in puppies and also responsible for most mortalities. Enteritis (infection of the intestines) is caused by various viruses and bacteria and is precipitated by poor hygiene, lack of sufficient immune protection, ingestion of too much milk, change in diet or other stress factors. The main symptom is diarrhea, which can vary from watery to mucoid to haemorrhagic, followed by dehydration, emaciation, weakness and death. Low ambient temperature, a drought or a common cold (viral infection) can cause infection of the upper respiratory system. If it is allowed to progress, it can develop into a bacterial infection of the lungs (pneumonia). Symptoms include nasal discharge, rapid and difficult breathing and a moist cough. Inhalation of milk by Bulldog puppies is quite common and can rapidly develop into a fatal pneumonia. Novice breeders are advised to make us of a vet with sufficient experience in the treatment of puppies and to always react swiftly to any signs of disease.
Puppies start opening their eyes between 10 days and two weeks. Puppies are born with pink noses (once in a blue moon you'll have one born that already has a little spot on it!) Otherwise, don't panic. Anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, they will start getting the pigment on the nose and around the eyes.
At around 3 1/2 to 4 weeks, start adding baby rice cereal to formula and feed in a shallow pan. again use the puppy replacer or home made version, or if the puppies have eat on mom the whole time you may want to mix with lamb replacement formula instead of goat milk, this is found in feed stores. You have to be careful to see that they don't get too much and choke. At five weeks you should be able to start adding ground up puppy food with less formul and mainly water added, a soaked puppy ground up mixture, Then add some baby strained meat, lamb/chicken to mix with the formula. Grind puppy food in your blender, and mix that powder with the milk/water. I have found a puppy food is best for weaning and feeding Bulldog puppies till they are about four months, then I switch to an adult food.* Always soak food as dry food can choke puppies under 12 weeks of age.
At four to five weeks they should be up and walking around. It is very important to keep the bedding area lumpy for good footing and building them up. Sometimes you can get a puppy that we call a "swimmer". This usually happens if it is a big puppy, and the bedding isn't lumpy. Either the front or hind legs spread out and the puppy can't get them under him. If this happens, it is important to get them hobbled and help them learn to get up and walk. Otherwise, you get a puppy that is flat chested and gets pneumonia.
This hopefully gives you an idea of what is involved in raising puppies. It is a lot of work, time, and sometimes heartache. But, it is dedicated breeders that do it again and again, just hoping for that next champion. Also, as I said, Bulldogs are not "usual" or "always". They will present you with some new problem and that is why a network of Bulldoggers and a good vet is invaluable.
At 4 weeks get the puppies wormed and vet checked again, by 6 weeks they are ready for another round of worming and there first shots. When they reach the 8 week age you can start to sell them, however many breeders wait another 1-2 weeks, which means you must also give a second set of shots. Puppies sold at 9-12 weeks or older is normal for most breeders. Be sure to screen your buyers and have a contract to protect you both, also require a spay/neuter contract on any pet dogs and/or limited registration.