One thing that concerns me is what to do if, for some reason, she doesn’t produce enough milk for her pups.

Is it worth having a substitute milk on stand-by and, if so, what would you recommend?

Neil Mckintosh
Great idea. I received a phone call at 8pm last Friday as a Lab bitch had given birth and was slow in producing milk for her puppies.

The owner’s milk replacement was three years out of date!

The problem with the whelping here is the first milk, colostrum, is packed full of goodies that are vital for pups’ survival.

Most important are those antibodies that provide protection against infection.

Naturally, each bitch will have antibodies to the bugs in her individual environment and it is impossible to buy this tailor made stuff in a bottle!

Whilst there are some good milk substitutes (such as Welpi) on the market, I have never had much faith in colostrum products for puppies.

Experiments using bitch serum where first milk was inadequate did not have good results.

I might be more inclined to worry about the environment as problems here are a common cause of poor milk let-down in bitches.

Overcrowding, too much heat, noise, traffic (dogs and people!), nervousness and inadequate nutrition should all be avoided.

Injections of oxytocin (speak to your friendly local vet) can help milk let-down.

Remember poor milk let-down can be genetic and run in the family.