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QUESTION: hi there Karen, I have a pom that was tied with her mate starting nov 22nd 2012 and a few times right up until they lost interest in each other (around 5 days total). I have been watching her closely, I believe we are expecting 3 puppies (there may be a 4th one, but we are unsure!) and yesterday her temp (which is normally 101-102) dropped to 99.2 and then into the 98's her belly became very very hard and she would sort of whimper but otherwise acted fine. this morning her temp was up to 100.2 and then fell to 98.8 this afternoon! no wetness anywhere, the puppies are not moving as much but heartbeats can still be heard on all of them. and she is sleeping all the time. I have her "due date" a week from now!
so my first question - are we safe to have the puppies a week early (she is only a 5lb dog, her mate was also 5lbs) second, is this the temp going up and down like that "normal"? my current vet is not a pleasant one... and we are way too far into this to change now. so I thought I would try my hand at getting answers online before calling them.. thanks!

ANSWER: First, recount your dates to make sure they are correct. (I once counted incorrectly, somehow, on one of mine...) By my count, today is your bitch's 59th day from her first breeding, and technically, she is due from now until 63 days from her final breeding. (That is how I do mine.) Without progesterone testing, there is no absolute way to know when ovulation occurred.

Some bitches will accept the male a day or two before ovulation and a few days afterwards, while others will only accept right around ovulation. And, of course, there are always those who would stand forever for the male (or the occasional one who never tolerates breeding, no matter what!). If you have a good male like I once did, he would only be interested when the bitch was ovulating.

I once had a bitch who ALWAYS whelped on her 58th day! It scared me at first, but that was just her way. Yours may be the same way. Just know that she is due any time now, so don't plan on going anywhere.

As to the temp, that can vary from bitch to bitch also. Most will drop below 99 (mine were usually closer to 98 or slightly below), and then begin whelping within 24 hours after the drop; some can also go up and down, although mine don't usually. My first bitch was below 99 her last two weeks, and when she actually did drop, it went down to 96.9! Her daughter never dropped... never dropped... never dropped... and toward the end I got up during the middle of the night and took her temp to find it had dropped. By 7:30 the next morning, her temp was back up to normal, and she started labor. If I hadn't taken her temp at 2:30am, I would have sworn that her temp never dropped at all! So, prepare to be flexible, and keep good records in case there is a next time.

If you don't like your vet, start looking for a new one! Ask your friends for referrals.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: hello there! first let me just say that you were correct, from the first date of mating her she was due on wed (yesterday) second lets throw in there that we have so far had one puppy!! puppy #1 is a girl and was born at 2:40 this morning. it is now 5am and she still hasnt begun nursing. also I KNOW there are more puppies however my mom has decided to take a nap now.. first question - how long should i wait before going ahead and bottle feeding that pup? she is only 4oz and we dont want to lose her! second question - how long between pups before i call the vet? i can still hear the other pups heartbeat, seems to be going strong.. ive never had a bitch that took a nap after the first pup lol. wish I could take a nap too!
thank you so much, I love that you give full answers and you seem to have a very good head on your shoulders. you seem to have a lot of experience and knowledge.

Puppies should be put on their mother fairly soon after whelping, although it is VERY important to get their surrounding temperature up to around 90 degrees. During delivery, I alternate between having them nurse and putting them in a box with heat on them in order to keep them warm.

Four ounces is extremely small, and she may not make it, but I would certainly try... you just never know. The smallest I have had survive was 4-1/2 oz., as I recall.

Bitches sometimes will wait two hours or so after a delivery before starting up again, but sometimes they do shut down with uterine inertia. It is always a judgment call as to whether there may be a problem or not. Puppies are okay as long as the placentas are still attached. It is when those placentas detach that the clock starts ticking and there is a time limit for them to be born. I have had some whelpings that took all night and most of the next day!

If you haven't already, you may want to call your veterinarian for his/her opinion. Sometimes a shot of oxytocin will get things started again if labor still hasn't started up again, and then sometimes a C-section is called for.

Good luck!


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Karen Brittan


I have been showing miniature schnauzers in conformation, obedience, and earthdog for forty years, and am a professional dog groomer. I am not a veterinarian and cannot answer questions of a veterinary nature. However, I can give my opinion or share some experiences on some health issues. Everyone should remember that this is a volunteer service, and few of us are up late into the night. Medical emergencies require a veterinary visit, or at least a telephone call... not an internet question which might not be viewed and answered until hours later. If your dog is sick or injured, it should be seen by a licensed professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.


I have taught obedience classes and have taught people how to groom for many years.

Learn more about me and my dogs:

Member of: American Miniature Schnauzer Club; Twin Cities Miniature Schnauzer Club; Twin Cities Obedience Training Club; Elk River Kennel Club; Minnesota Professional Pet Groomers Association; Greater Twin Cities Earthdog Club.

Fifty-one years of living with, observing, and training dogs, along with numerous seminars during that time.

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