Congratulations on your new litter! Please follow the below instructions to ensure the best and safest recovery for your female pet and her litter.
Your female cat/dog has had a major abdominal procedure including a full anaesthetic. She may be wobbly for 24 hours and will need to be rested for 10-14 days.
For the first night:
For the following 10-14 days:
As your female pet has delivered a litter by caesarean section, she may not mother effectively in the first days of lactation. It is possible that she will actively reject the pups and could harm them. It is vital that the interactions between mother and babies are very carefully monitored and supervised. At best, she will form maternal-neonatal bond over the next few days however at worst she can be aggressive towards her puppies/kittens. Effective lactation and nursing are essential in the first two days and you should do whatever is necessary to encourage and facilitate this process. Puppies/kittens that do not feed well in the first two days of life may die or be debilitated later.
Encouraging Normal Mothering
Weighing the Litter
Puppies and kittens should be weighed after birth and every day following to ensure they are growing correctly. Weigh each of the puppies/kittens once or twice a day and record their weights. It is normal for them to lose a little body weight in the first day or so but they should gain weight thereafter at a rate of 5-10% of their birth weight daily and have doubled their birth weight by 10 days of age.
Milk Supply and Supplementation
If a puppy or kitten is not gaining weight effectively, it may need supplementation. There is no better supplementation than mother’s milk, however a puppy/kitten milk powder may be advised by your veterinarian. If your female is not producing milk, she may need some assistance to help increase her production. We encourage you to feed her a good quality puppy/kitten food (such as Hills or Advance) to ensure she is receiving all the right nutrients. The diet should contain a protein level of 25-35%, a fat level of >18% as well as carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. You may also need to increase the number of times you feed her or alternatively, let her graze throughout the day. If you have her on a good quality food, additional supplements should be avoided which will prevent dietary imbalances and toxicities.
Occasionally, females with large litters may require additional calcium as in these cases, the body calcium reserves are depleted in lactation. If you have any concerns, please contact your veterinarian. We strongly encourage you to avoid calcium supplementation unless advised by a veterinarian.
If after feeding a good quality diet, you suspect your female is still not producing milk (agalactia), she may require medication to help increase her production. It is a myth that oxytocin increases milk production, rather it just helps let down what is already being produced. A dopamine antagonist can be prescribed by your veterinarian to help increase milk production. A dopamine antagonist induces a rise in prolactin levels, leading to an increase in milk production at a dose of 2.2mg/kg orally daily. Common toxicities include oral mucosal dryness and gastrointestinal disorders. If you suspect your female is not producing enough milk, please call your veterinarian immediately.
If any of your litter are having issues with their development, strength or suckle reflex, they may require additional supplementation through a variety of methods. It is not as simple as bottle feeding them something else. For example if a puppy or kitten is weak, bottle feeding may not be the best option as their suckle reflect might be underdeveloped which increases their risk of aspiration. In this case, a stomach feeding tube may be a better alternative. If you suspect any of your litter are not putting on weight or developing correctly, please contact your veterinarian.
It is vital that the puppies or kittens are housed in a warm, enclosed environment. Body temperature needs to be above 35.5° - 36.5°C. If the body temperatures falls below this, ileus will develop (gastrointestinal motility stops), which results in a bloated and distressed puppy/kitten.
Note: Normal temperatures for puppies/kittens are lower than adult body temperatures:
The key to raising a successful litter is attention to detail, and this requires round the clock attention. We encourage you to pre-plan the arrival of your litter (gathering assistance, taking time off work). This will ensure that a successful outcome is achieved resulting in a healthy litter with a healthy happy mother. If you have any concerns during the journey, Maraboon Vet is always just a phone call away.