Before your dog gives birth to her new litter, you might ask yourself. What do I need for whelping puppies? I certainly did, so I have prepared a whelping checklist of all the supplies I needed leading up to the delivery and during the 8 weeks of caring for the puppies.
Somewhere quiet for her to give birth
Whether your dog has had puppies before, or if it is her first time, whelping is stressful.
She will need somewhere quiet with little to no distractions when giving birth.
The mother will need to be able to concentrate on delivering her puppies and feeding them while waiting for the rest to emerge.
Loud noises are distracting and if she doesn’t feel safe, she will move them to another location. If she feels threatened or panics, she may not choose a safe area, only the first place she finds.
Whelping is taxing on both the body and mind, so it is best to make it as easiest as possible for her and the puppies, during the birth and after.
This is the most important piece of equipment you will use. It is essential the mother feels safe when giving birth to her puppies.
Her hormones will be raging and she will feel very protective of them right from the get-go.
Providing her with a contained space that is warm and protected from the wind will give her peace of mind.
Do not put newspapers, rags or towels in the box, as loose bedding can be dangerous to the puppies. She will ruck the bedding up creating lumps, where the puppies can get caught in the bedding and suffocate, or get squashed.
Blankets are ok, as long as they are tucked in tightly.
When our girl Piper had her litter, we used a large wooden box with a thin foam mattress on top of the wooden floor. We then tightly tucked a comforter without the inner overtop. The comforter is easily washed in the machine and replaced often for cleanliness.
The mother is going to be spending at least a month on her side feeding them and a bit of softness goes a long way. Tuck it in tightly so she can’t lift the edges and trap a puppy. For the first two weeks, a puppy can only move forwards, so if they get stuck there is no way for them to back out.
In the wild, dogs pick a defensible spot, dig a hole in the earth and give birth to and raise their puppies in it. She has a built-in need to protect them from predators. By providing this box, it is one less thing for her to worry about.
It also makes life easier for you. By knowing they are all in one place at all times, you don’t have to worry one has escaped.
Puppies are like human babies. They don’t generate their own body heat until they are older. This is why they sleep in a pile with the others or against their mother to keep warm.
Show her the whelping box every day for a week before she is due to give birth. She will need to get comfortable being in it, as this is where she will have and raise the puppies.
If you wait until she is actually in labor she may not want to use it. You can use treats to coax her into the box. Having her scent spread about before the birth will encourage her to use it.
A Local Veterinarian
Having puppies can be a stressful time for both the owner and the dog. Having a trusted veterinarian on hand that you can make a phone call to for advice, will relieve any concerns that arise.
The internet will only be able to provide a small amount of information. As the delivery date approaches, you may not find all the answers needed for a specific circumstance.
Vets have studied for years to cover all aspects of animal health, whelping being one of them. Being able to ask a professional will give you peace of mind. By choosing a good vet, they will be able to help with all questions, even the small ones.
Digital Baby Medical Thermometer
Taking her rectal temperature is the best way to know for sure if she is in labor. Her temperature will drop from 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit to 99 or lower, indicating she is in the first stages. (38 degrees Celsius to 37).
I found using the fast response digital thermometer by Kamsay the easiest. Your dog most likely won’t like you taking her temperature, so the faster you can get the results, the better.
By keeping a record, you will be able to track her progress.
When inserting the thermometer, use a bit of lubricant so it doesn’t hurt. Give it a good clean with disinfectant afterward to remain germ-free.
You will be taking her temperature several times over the coming days and want her to be as comfortable as possible.
Keeping the thermometer sanitary will prevent any cross-contamination.
Most puppies are born front legs outstretched and head first, like superman when he is flying.
Occasionally a puppy is born breach, backward bottom first.
You will be able to tell if the puppy is a breach, because it will emerge back feet and tail first.
If in doubt, look closely at its feet. They will behind paws, not front ones.
If this happens and the puppy has been in the birth canal for a long time, there is a good chance it will have some fluid in its lungs.
The way to tell if there is fluid in the puppy’s lungs is by the snuffling of wheezing noises the puppy will make once it has been born. There may even be mucus coming out of its nose.
This is where a plastic syringe comes into play. Gently insert the syringe (minus the needle) into one nostril. Their nostrils are extremely small, so be careful not to put it in too far. Gently pull the plunger back and suck out as much fluid as you can. Repeat the process with the other nostril.
It is important to remove the fluid because the puppy might develop a lung issue later on, or sometimes even pneumonia.
Generally, the puppy will expel the remaining fluid over the next day or so by itself. Keep an eye on its progress and everything should be fine.
Whelping is a messy affair. Having clean, dry towels on hand in case you need them is a good idea. If there is a problem with the birth, it is much easier to have everything ready, rather than leaving to find what you need.
If the puppy been stuck halfway out for a period of time, you can rub it gently with a clean dry towel to warm it up and stimulate breathing.
Make sure to leave some afterbirth on the puppy (don’t clean it completely). The mother needs to lick it off herself for bonding purposes.
If the puppy is wiped completely clean, it will smell different from the others and she may reject it.
Stainless Steel Round Tip- Dog Grooming Scissors
You will need sanitized, round tip sharp scissors ready in case your dog doesn’t break the umbilical cord.
When the puppy is born, the mother will eat the afterbirth, freeing the puppy from its sack and cutting the cord.
However, sometimes she doesn’t break the umbilical cord or it is too long. It happens a lot with first-time mothers.
In this case, you will need to step in and cut it yourself. Wait 30 seconds after the puppy is born before cutting the cord. This will give time for the blood that is in the sack to flow back into the puppy’s body.
It is best to tear the cord with your fingernails, creating a ragged tear as opposed to a clean cut with scissors. By tearing the cord with your nails, it will pinch the cord closed, sealing the wound.
However, the mother will want her baby back, so quickly cutting it with scissors may be the better option.
Once she has had a few of the puppies, she will get the hang of it herself and you will be able to leave it to her.
If you need to assist with the birth, your hands are going to get dirty. There will be after-birth, blood and likely poop to deal with.
Instead of running back into the house every five minutes to wash your hands, wet wipes are an efficient way to keep your hands and the pen sanitized.
The mother will at first eat any poop the puppies do to keep her nest nice and clean. As time goes on, and they eat more, she won’t be able to keep up with their mess. Having wet wipes on hand is an easy way to help her clean up the area.
Scales are a great way to keep track of a pup’s progress. Visually, it may not look like they are gaining weight or growing as well as the others. By weighing them every few days, you will be able to tell how well they are doing.
There will always be a small puppy, known as the runt. You might end up with two runts in a large litter (I did). I was concerned the smaller ones weren’t doing well because the bigger puppies made the smaller ones look tiny.
The Accuteck scales confirmed they weren’t underweight, the big ones just made it look that way. Talk with your vet on how much weight the pups should be gaining each day. It will differ significantly between a large breed and a small breed.
Puppy ID Bands
Once all the puppies have been born, it can be hard to identify one from another. Especially if you end up with a large litter or they have very similar markings.
PENTA ANGEL Puppy ID bands will help you identify each puppy without having to constantly check which is which.
It can be helpful to create a chart. You can easily keep track of the sex of the puppies, their weight, and later on the name of the family who will take them to his or her new home.
It can be tough to remember all the information over the next 8 weeks, so using bands that correspond with each puppy can really help.
One of the things I was glad to have in my whelping kit was a box of FitGuard Touch exam gloves.
As fun as it is to see the little puppies, breeding can be a messy process. If you are helping with the delivery you are going to need gloves for hygiene reasons. Gloves also save sticky fingers when it is time to prepare food with a worming tablet hidden inside. Or when caring for one that has fallen sick. Simply remove the gloves and put in the trash once finished, so there is no risk of spreading illness to others in the litter.
If you don’t have enough of the supplies above you could save money and buy a complete whelping kit.
They come in a few different sizes in regards to how many puppies the mother has had.
Having a litter of puppies is a great experience, and by using the guide above, you will be prepared, making the time an enjoyable one.