This section is from the book "A Manual Of Toy Dogs: How To Breed, Rear, And Feed Them", by Leslie Williams. Also available from Amazon: A Manual Of Toy Dogs: How To Breed, Rear And Feed Them.
Too much interference is generally alternated in the" case of dogs with a disregard of their natural feelings where the arrival of puppies is concerned. It is quite natural that the little bitch, feeling distressed and uneasy, should claim a great deal of notice and attention, and if she has been made a pet of she will expect, and deserve, to be allowed to have her puppies in her mistress's dressing-room or some similar luxury; in which she should be indulged. But once she has got over the preliminaries, which I will presently describe, she should, if possible, be left to herself as far as manual assistance goes. Nature will bring the puppies into the world far better than our clumsy hands, and the merest little tyro of a year-old bitch generally possesses the marvellous instinct teaching her to put her babies comfortably afloat on the sea of life. The disregard of a pet dog's feelings at which I have hinted may take the form of sending a tiny bitch out to the stable to pup under the care of a coachman or groom, and this may or may not be cruel according to whether she has any affection for the man or any knowledge of her temporary quarters; personally, I should consider it an unkind thing to do under any circumstances.
The beginning of the toy bitch's trouble is apparent to her owner almost as soon as to herself. She pants, and runs about excitedly, scratching here and there, making wildly impossible and absurd nests for her puppies in all kinds of unsuitable places. This may last for days, but is generally only done for a few hours before the puppies arrive, which, by the way, will be nine weeks after mating. Some bitches shriek in a very distressing way before they pup, and, as a rule, food is refused, and the little mother that is to be is often sick. No anxiety, however, need be felt. As soon as she really means business she will quiet down and settle in the place prepared for her, which by choice should be a big, deep arm-chair, with a white blanket - any old thing will do that is clean - folded in the seat of it, and over this an old cotton sheet, likewise folded, and so secured that the bitch cannot scrabble it up in the foolish endeavour to improve human bed-making which always possesses dogs, and, if indulged, lands them in desperate discomfort on the top of a kind of volcano of rags!
In nine cases out of ten a bitch chooses to pup in the night, and the hours often seem very long, while she may lie and sleep in evident uneasiness, getting up every now and then to make her bed, and panting as if exhausted. It is quite safe to leave her in this condition for twelve hours, but if by that time she seems to be getting weaker and no puppies have come, the vet's services should be requisitioned. Probably she will not eat, but she may be offered a little cold milk. On no account give her anything hot, externally or internally, and do not be tempted to do anything whatever to her; the only interference which is ever excusable is the application of a very little sweet oil or vaseline externally, which she will lick off, and which does no harm and no good, in my experience.
If help is called for at all, it must be the skilled aid of a surgeon; any other is worse than useless.
The puppies are born singly, and if a bitch has a large litter they generally come in twos and threes, with a very short interval between the items of each brace or trio, and a long rest between the batches. The first services the mother has to render her babies are to free them from the bag of membranes in which they are born, and to bite the cord which joins each puppy to the afterbirth - a fleshy substance which comes away with or shortly after it. All animals intensely dislike being watched while they perform these operations; but every bitch who is anything at all of a mother will manage them perfectly. Next comes the licking of the puppies, which have been enclosed each in its membranous bag full of liquid (the liquor amniac), and are consequently dripping wet. Here is the crucial test: a good mother licks her babies until they are warm and dry, then feeds them, and snuggles down with them into a contented heap of intense happiness. A bad mother, on the contrary, leaves her poor infants to dry as best they can, a process which invariably ends in their developing a kind of infantile skin complaint, which appears like a scab of cheesy substance attached to the roots of the hair.
It grows away with the hair by degrees, and gets well without treatment, but is ugly and disfiguring for the time being, and a sad evidence of incompetence on the part of the mother.
FRENCH TOY BULLDOG. "La Reine des Roses," owned by Mrs. Townsend Green.
When the family have settled down, and the puppies are dry and comfortable, it is time to give them a little attention. Have a saucer full of nice, warm milk-gruel, made with patent groats as daintily as for an invalid, and let the mother drink it, which she will be sure to do with gratitude; she may have more at intervals during the first day. Then roll away the soiled folds of sheet from under her and the litter, which can now be done without disturbing them, and leave them cosily ensconced on the clean, warm blanket, which has been all the time underneath.
A little later the mother may be put out into the garden for a few minutes, not more than two or three; but she must not be allowed to get chilled. After the first day she should go out for a little walk morning and afternoon, the time of her absence to be gradually lengthened as the puppies grow older.
Until they begin to crawl, valuable toy puppies are much safer and better upstairs in a big chair as described, or in a flat basket with a folded blanket at the bottom set upon the chair, than they can possibly be in any stable or in the kitchen premises, for, no matter how warm, such places are draughty too. There is absolutely nothing about a litter of little toys, if healthy, to be in the least offensive anywhere, and a good mother will keep them in the very pink of perfection for nearly a month under such circumstances.
Where a poor or weakly mother is concerned, and where the puppies are restless, squall, and seem damp and comfortless, it is another matter. By constant attention as to the changing of the bed, partial hand-feeding from a small old silver spoon with cream and hot water, and Plasmon or Lactol, half and half (better than milk, though warm milk will do), and a great deal of patience, the mother may be helped out and the puppies saved; but where they are not valuable it is better to destroy all but one or two; and where they are so, a good foster-mother offers them by far the best chance of life and health. There are people who make it their business to supply fosters, and one of these should be applied to as soon as possible; taking pains to ensure, by careful examination on arrival, that the stranger has no skin disease and is free from objectionable insects.
Small toy bitches sometimes have but little milk at first, but by giving warm food only for the first few days, and plenty of milk to drink, it generally comes all right, and so long as the pups seem fairly content, all is well; the flow is sure to increase. Both before and after pupping there is generally a little diarrhoea, which is of no consequence; but if it goes on beyond the second day after pupping, get the bitch on to her usual diet, with a little cold milk to drink, and stop all sloppy foods. Oatmeal, as gruel or otherwise, should never be given after the second day. A discharge, of mucus mixed with blood, is usual after pupping, and may continue for several weeks in gradually lessening amount.