Caring for lagotto dams
All about the Lagotto Dam...
During pregnancy as the puppies grow and develop the mothers must be kept in their best health in order to give the puppies optimum care. In preparation for whelping we watch the moms carefully. They are fed many small meals to minimize vomiting and to keep the pups well nourished in utero. A few days before day 59 the mom is acclimated to the whelping nest, a 4’x4’x6’ pen with a heat regulated plate and side rails. The nest allows a safe and quiet place for the mom to go through her labor.
We now watch for the signs of labor: shivering, a drop in body temper (normal for a dog is 101.5 degrees), circling, panting, restlessness, contractions, and her water breaking. These signs in a variety of combinations let us know that the puppies are soon to follow.
After the puppies are born, mom receives around the clock attention. Sometimes an x-ray is taken to make sure that she is empty of pups and placenta. She is then watched for the next 72 hours for any infection. Once she is past this point her nipples are checked twice daily to insure that there is no mastitis which is harmful to both mom and pups. This continues until the pups are weaned and she is dried up. In the beginning there is less of a chance of mastitis because the pups nurse around the clock. Once they begin to eat puppy food, we must be more diligent of watching for the hardening of the nipples. Meals, fresh water, and exercise continue to be frequent though the moms are often hesitant to leave the puppies. However, by the end of the second week she is anxious to have time away from the pups; and by the time the fourth week arrives she is ready for the pups to start eating and to begin the weaning process.
Nature kicks in around the time the sixth week arrives, and the mom is dried up. If the pup nurses at this point the mom automatically vomits. (This is a natural occurrence for canines in the wild.) This is the reason she can no longer be with her pups, in addition to the fact that she is ready to move on with her own activities.