The Number one Golden Rule.
No bitch should be bred from before she has finished growing, never before her second heat, and better at her third. Very few breeders will agree with the last statement, mainly because it does not fit in with the general economics of kennel management.
A good many bitches are kept intact until after this age so that they may be shown, and they are often bred from quite successfully, later even than the third season.
Prior to the time when she is expected to come into season the bitch needs regular exercise and suitable nourishment. She should remain lean and active rather than become fat and lethargic.
A bitch should be wormed a few weeks before she is due in season, and following this she should be isolated as far as possible to avoid reinfestation from worm eggs passed out in the droppings of other dogs or puppies. The dosing should be repeated between the 5th and 6th weeks following the mating. The choice of the worming product (anthelmintic) is important. Any veterinary surgeon will supply a safe and effective worming product that will not cause vomiting or bowel irritation. A few of the vermifuge medicines(worming products) in common use may be too drastic for use during pregnancy. In form your vet you are planning on breeding when buying the worming product.
Vaccination is very important in your breeding bitch with whom it is intended to breed. Annual vaccination is cructial and specially in breeding bitches because a bitch that has been immunised as a puppy will, in two or three years, have lost her immunity unless she has been vaccinated or exposed to all viral components in the annual vaccine in the round of shows or mixed freely with other dogs outside the kennels.
This applies principally to those bitches that have received no booster injections since their original vaccination. In such, the re-vaccination or (at the least) a booster dose should be given at least a month before the expected time of mating.
Vaccination should not be carried out after mating, or certainly not before the 4oth day of pregnancy. If for any reason it becomes absolutely necessary to vaccinate the bitch after the 4oth day or at any time after this, and before the birth of her puppies, it is essential the puppies should be vaccinated with a modified live virus at the 9th week, and again at their 15th week, with a booster at six months. The reason is that when the bitch is vaccinated during pregnancy her milk will contain antibodies that may nullify any living vaccine that can safely be injected into the puppies. The result may then well be that the puppies will be entirely dependent upon the original antibodies in the milk, and when these diminish and disappear from the puppies’ systems they will be wide open to infection. This is why the second injection at fifteen weeks and the booster at six months become so imperative.
If leptospiral or virus hepatitis should appear in the kennel during the period of pregnancy, the bitch should be injected against these two diseases with a killed vaccine, not with a living one. The veterinary surgeon will, of course, be quite aware of this.
Radiography( Xray), in an attempt to determine the existence or otherwise of pregnancy, will give you peace of mind on if your bitch is pregnant and how many puppies to expect. This usually gets done in the last week of pregnancy when the little skeletons of the puppies are completly formed and visual.
For earlier detection you should go and see a vet with skilled fingers to diagnose pregnancy between the 22nd and 29th days. About the 22nd day in the smaller breeds, and the 24th day in the larger, the miniature embryos can be felt at the pelvic brim and further forward, below the backbone, as a ‘string of beads’. A few days later, fluid will have formed around them, contained within the membranous sacs (allantois and amnion), and the beads will not be so easily felt.
If you are going for an elective Cesearian then toward the last few days of pregnancy you can have ‘progs test’ done at your vets to see if the puppies are ready. When they are they will send a hormonal signal to the bitches body to drop the progesterone level dramatically. That is the sign to organise a cesearian with your vet so you will not have to rush to the emergency vet at 4 am.