Whelping: Suggestions on How to Prepare

Dogs giving birth is called "whelping." Dogs carry their young for about 63 days. However, dogs may seem pregnant when they are not. If you think your dog is pregnant, obtain a veterinarian's confirmation as soon as possible, which will afford both you and your dog enough time to prepare for a successful whelping.

Prenatal Care for Pregnant Dog

First, see that the mother dog eats the right food. A nourished mother dog has been shown to produce healthier, happier, smarter and more active and agile puppies. Your dog's appetite will increase as her puppies grow inside her. After the first five week of pregnancy, increase her caloric intake by 10 percent per week until delivery. Under the guidance of your vet, gradually switch the mother dog from adult food to puppy food, while maintaining adequate caloric intake. Alert your vet to any significant losses of appetite, which may simply be due to morning sickness. Second, attend to the mother dog's every emotional need, showering her with attention and affection throughout her pregnancy. The more psychologically secure your dog is during pregnancy, the more secure her offspring will be throughout their lives.

The Whelping Box

Acclimate the mother dog to a whelping box weeks in advance of delivery. If you do not, she may commence "nesting" in inconvenient places-your closet or living room, for example. Construct her whelping box from a shallow, roomy cardboard box, outfitted with a shelf midway, where puppies may nestle so that the mother dog won't roll over on them. Line the whelping box with newspapers or incontinence pads, for easy clean-up, before and after whelping. After delivery, line the whelping box with a thin material, like sheets, or mattress pad. Do not use thick towels or blankets, for puppies may burrow in them and suffocate. Locate the whelping box in a quiet, dry, warm and secluded place, so that your dog's puppies will come into a world that's peaceful, comfortable and safe.

The Whelping Kit

After you have made the whelping box, begin assembling a whelping kit, which contains supplies handy during delivery. Here's a partial list of whelping supplies:

  • Stethoscope, to listen to the heartbeat of mother dog and puppies.
  • Thermometer, to record temperature of mother dog to predict onset of whelping. Many believe that the mother dog's temperature drops to 99 degrees Fahrenheit 24 hours before delivery. You may also have to take the litter's
  • temperature if they become chilled or sick.
  • Latex gloves, to pull out puppies lodged in the birth canal.
  • Lubricant, to facilitate extracting a stuck puppy.
  • Dental floss, unwaxed, to tie umbilical cords before snipping. Remember to snip on the side farthest from the mother's body.
  • Safety scissors, to cut the umbilical cords. Do not use sharp scissors, which can cause umbilical cords to bleed.
  • Iodine, to dry and sterilize umbilical cords. Pat iodine on umbilical cords twice a day until they fall off.

Talk to your veterinarian about additional duties you may assume before and during delivery.