Whelping Dogs: Fact Vs. Fiction

Common misconceptions about whelping dogs include the belief that a drop in temperature conclusively predicts whelping within 24 hours, and the belief that every mother dog is capable of attending to her puppies after whelping.

Temperature Drop Not Always Conclusive

Some owners depend solely on a temperature drop to tell them a whelping dog is about to have puppies within 24 hours. However, a single drop in temperature-from the normal range, between 101 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit, to about 99 degrees-may or may not mean your dog is about to go into labor. Your dog's temperature may dip below normal range a number of times before whelping. Moreover, many whelping dogs deliver without a drop in temperature. Recording your dog's temperature several times a day will help you differentiate between "false alarms" from a final drop in temperature that may indicate that whelping is imminent.

Other Signs of Whelping

You may notice these additional signs of whelping:

  • Lack of appetite-your dog may stop eating altogether (However, some dogs may eat right up until delivery).
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Milk expressed from teats
  • Glazed look in her eye
  • Restlessness
  • Pacing in circles and getting up and down
  • Panting

Not Every Dog Makes a Great Mother

It is untrue that all dogs will naturally assume maternal duties after whelping. Some mother dogs develop an aversion to their young after delivery. You may have to take on maternal duties to keep your mother dog's puppies alive. Learn how to free puppies from their birth sacs if the mother dog refuses to do so. Also, stock up on bottles and formula along with the other supplies in the whelping kit. Ask your vet for further instruction, just in case.