If your dog is expecting puppies any minute, you might be a nervous wreck. Even though nature likely will take its course and everything will turn out fine, there's always the chance that something could go amiss during labor. Some preparation beforehand can help you deal with birth issues, such as the need to cut the newborn puppy's umbilical cord. In addition to having certain supplies on hand, keep your veterinarian's contact information handy.
Prepare a large box lined with newspaper or clean towels for the mother dog to deliver her puppies. When the mother starts delivering her litter -- also known as whelping -- keep an eye on the process but don't interfere unless there appears to be a problem. Each puppy arrives in a sac, part of its placenta. The mother dog usually will chew through the sac enclosing each puppy -- if it didn't break during the birthing process -- and nibble off the umbilical cord. If she doesn't do this, you must step in to clear the fetal membranes from the puppy's nose and mouth and remove the cord.
What You'll Need
In preparation for cord cutting, have on hand unwaxed dental floss, clean scissors, cotton swabs, a bottle of rubbing -- isopropyl -- alcohol and a bottle of iodine. Prior to cutting the cord, disinfect the scissors with the rubbing alcohol. Pour a small amount of iodine into a bowl so you have easy access to it when needed.
Cutting the Cord
While the mother dog nips off the umbilical cord, you must tie it. The American Kennel Club recommends tying the umbilical cord with dental floss and cutting it approximately 1/2 to 1 inches from the puppy's abdomen. Rather than making a straight cut across the cord, try to crush it in half with a slight motion of the scissors, so that it appears more chewed than cut. This resembles the way a mother dog detaches the cord. During the procedure, hold the puppy in the palm of your hand and hold the cord between your thumb and forefinger. If the cord bleeds a bit after cutting, light pressure from your fingers should stop the bleeding. After cutting the cord, daub iodine on the end for infection prevention.
Once you cut the umbilical cord and treated it with iodine, place the puppy with his mother so that she can lick him. If she's still whelping, she might have no interest in him, so place him in a small box warmed with a hot water bottle or heating pad underneath towels or blankets. It's crucial that newborn puppies stay warm until reunited with their mother after she finishes giving birth. Take mother and pups to the vet for an examination within two days of birth. The part of the cord still attached to the puppy should fall off within a few days.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.