This section is from the book "The Dogs Of Great Britain, America, And Other Countries. Their Breeding, Training, and Management in Health and Disease", by John Henry Walsh (Stonehenge). Also available from Amazon: The Dogs Of Great Britain, America And Other Countries.
During whelping, the only management required is in regard to food and quiet, which last should as far as possible be enjoined, as at this time all bitches are watchful and suspicious, and will destroy their young if they are at all interfered with, especially by strangers. While the process of labor is going on no food is required, unless it is delayed in an unnatural manner, when the necessary steps will be found described in the Third Book. After it is completed, some lukewarm gruel, made with half milk and half water, should be given, and repeated at intervals of two or three hours. Nothing cold is to be allowed for the first two or three days, unless it is in the hight of summer, when these precautions are unnecessary, as the ordinary temperature is generally between 60° and 70° of Fahrenheit. If milk is not easily had, broth will do nearly as well, thickening it with oatmeal, which should be well boiled in it. This food is continued until the secretion of milk is fully established, when a more generous diet is gradually to be allowed, consisting of sloppy food, together with an allow-ance of meat somewhat greater than that to which she has been accustomed.
This last is the best rule, for it will be found that no other useful one can be given; those bitches which have been previously accustomed to a flesh diet sinking away if they do not have it at this time, when the demands of the puppies for milk dram the system considerably; and those which have not been used to it being rendered feverish and dyspeptic if they have an inordinate allowance of it. A bitch in good health, and neither over-reduced by starvation nor made too fat by excessive feeding, will rarely give any trouble at this time; but, in either of these conditions, it may happen that the secretion fails to be established. (For the proper remedies see Parturition, in Book III.) From the first day the bitch should be encouraged to leave her puppies twice or thrice daily to empty herself, which some, in their excessive fondness for their new charge, are apt to neglect. When the milk is thoroughly established, they should be regularly exercised for an hour a day, which increases the secretion of milk, and indeed will often bring it on. After the second week, bitches will always be delighted to leave their puppies for an hour or two at a time, and will exercise themselves if allowed to escape from them.
The best food for a suckling bitch is strong broth, with a fair proportion of bread and flesh, or bread and milk, according to their habits.
Sometimes it is desirable to destroy all the whelps as soon as possible after birth, but this ought very seldom to be done, as in all cases it is better to keep one or two sucking for a short time, to prevent milk fever, and from motives of humanity also. If, however, it is decided to destroy all at once, take them away as fast as they are born, leaving only one with the mother to engage her attention, and when all are born, remove the last before she has become used to it, by which plan less cruelty is practised than if she is permitted to attach herself to her offspring. Low diet and a dose or two of mild aperient medicine, with moderate exercise, will be required to guard against fever, but at best it is a bad business, and can only be justified under extraordinary circumstances.