Summary: Part of being a responsible dog breeder is being prepared for whelping puppies from your pregnant dog. There are quite a few items that you should have ready before the big whelping day arrives. We provide a list of these items for whelping puppies at home.
Tips and Advice for Whelping Puppies at Home
Before the big whelping day arrives, there are preparations that need to be made for your puppy whelping experience. If you have a long-haired breed, you will need to have her belly shaved especially close around her nipples. (If you do not do this, it will cause matting that causes extra pain, which your female dog does not need). If the matting is bad enough, it can make it so the puppies are unable to drink. She also needs to have her backside shaved closely removing any hair that may become matted or tangled during the birthing process. There are several different clippers on the market that make this process fast and easy.
Some veterinarians will suggest that you get your pet an ultra-sound or x-ray to predict how many puppies will be whelped or if there is a potential problem that may arise during your whelping of puppies. Dog nutritional supplement products are available which contain special herbs that are very helpful for females during their pregnancies, whelping, and nursing times. Dog prenatal vitamins are also available. These dog nutritional supplement products are in both tablet and liquid form.
What is the Temperature of a Dog in Labor?
Most dogs have the normal temperature of between 101 and 102.5. The temperature needs to be taken rectally with a good rectal thermometer. Or you can use a digital thermometer like Pet-Temp Ear Thermometer available at Amazon. This thermometer is an amazing advancement in technology allowing you to take a dog’s temperature in 1 second.
Pet-Temp Ear Thermometer
When to Take Temperature of a Dog in Labor?
It is best if you take the temperature a week or two before the dog’s due date and then again around the due date. If you are taking the temperature rectally, lubricate the rectal thermometer with K-Y jelly before inserting the thermometer into the rectum of the expectant dog. When the dog’s temperature drops below 100 degrees she will probably be whelping puppies in the next twenty four hours. At this point it is time to cancel plans and just be home with her.
Dog Whelping Equipment
You need to have some basic equipment on hand and ready for whelping. You will need the following:
- Paper towels
- Hemostat (or Dental floss, but Hemostat is preferred)
- Disposable gloves
- Extra newspapers
- Vet’s phone number
- Dog Whelping Box
You will need to get a whelping box ready. This is a box where the puppies will be born. On the market you can find several kinds and sizes of whelping boxes especially made for whelping puppies. Or you can buy a plastic containment animal playpen like the one pictured from Amazon. Then just pick up some whelping box liners and you are all set.
Whelping Box Preparations
You can use a cardboard box with layers of newspapers on the bottom for smaller breeds. I cut a hole in the side so she can get out and make sure that the top can come off so I can assist during whelping if I need to. (See our article on ‘Easily Make Your Own Disposable Whelping Box’.) Make certain that the dog has plenty of room to stretch out. A child’s small plastic wading pool with layers of newspapers in the bottom can work well for larger breeds of dogs.
The nice thing about cardboard boxes is that you can throw it away once the whelping of puppies is complete. I like to place a heating pad underneath one corner of the box so the puppies that have already come can stay nice and warm while the others are being born. Make sure you keep the heating pad on low during the whelping. If the puppies get too warm they will crawl off by themselves. I do not place the heating pad inside the box. The female might tear or bite it.
There are whelping box liners on the market that help keep the whelping area clean and sanitary. The whelping box liners are machine washable and dry-able so they are reusable. There are heated whelping pads also available. Some of the heated dog whelping pads have sides that do not allow for the puppies to crawl off of. Heated dog whelping pads help to keep the puppies nice and warm. It is not always easy to know when the mother dog is done whelping. Female dogs are all different. Usually the female will not relax, lie down, and fall asleep until the whelping process is complete with the last puppy.
After whelping your last puppy, keep a close watch on the puppies for the next 24 hours. If you have a larger litter you may have to help the smaller puppies nurse from their Mom. Make sure all of your puppies’ stomachs are full. If a puppy starts feeling cold and not moving as much, make sure it eats soon. Check to see if it is hydrated. You may need to take it away and put it on a heating pad and start supplementing. Watch carefully especially with a first time mom that she doesn’t lay on a puppy and suffocate them. Please refer to our ‘Puppy Care Topics’ on the menu for tips with puppies.
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