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Essential Guide to Dog Whelping for Beginners

Essential Guide to Dog Whelping for Beginners

If you’ve ever experienced the birth of a litter of puppies, you know how exciting and meaningful it can be. On the other hand, it can also be nerve-wracking and a little scary if you’re not prepared. In this article, we’ll go over the essentials of dog whelping so you’ll be ready when the time comes.


Essential Guide to Dog Whelping for Beginners

1.   Prepare a Quiet Space

You’ll need a quiet area for the mom so she can have some space from other animals. This can be a difficult process for her, so you want to keep things as relaxed as possible. You need a space that’s available for the mom and babies to stay until the puppies are 2-3 weeks old. Restrict this area so mom doesn’t leave and give birth in a less desirable location.

2.   Have your Supplies Ready

In addition to a room for mom, you want to be sure it’s temperature-controlled. Puppies need a heat source, so keep the room around 75 degrees to make sure they don’t get too cold. Your supply kit should include the following items:

  • Clean, dry towels and washcloths
  • Large potty pads
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Baby scale
  • Bulb syringe
  • Small gauze pads
  • Surgical scissors

3.   Prepare Mom for Babies

It will help if you make sure mom is clean and trimmed for the delivery. You can shave the fur on her back legs and around the nipples. Check with your vet and ask if you should get x-rays. That can give you a more accurate time of when puppies will come and how many will be delivered. Your vet may not want to do this if it’s a risky pregnancy and the mama is already stressed.

4.   Know the Signs of Labor

Labor signs are not the same for every dog. Look for things like a decreased appetite and restlessness. Mama dog may find it hard to get comfortable, and you could see more panting and digging at her bedding. There may also be vaginal discharge several hours before the first puppy arrives. That can continue for several days after birth.

5.   Special Delivery

When it’s time for babies, your dog will generally lie on her side, and you’ll notice signs of strain. Clear or light pink fluid will leak from the birth canal. The puppies may be encased in the amniotic sac that looks like a bubble. Mom will lick and tear at the sac to get her babies out. The delivery could take between four and six hours but may vary. If the mom is resting and contractions have stopped, it’s a good sign that all the puppies have been born.

Best practices

This is a condensed guide to give you the essentials for dog whelping. If you notice any of the babies are failing to thrive, contact your vet immediately. Remember, mama dogs have been giving birth without your help for many years, and they won’t need much intervention under normal circumstances. Most of the time, they have a maternal instinct that allows them to care for their offspring. Stay calm and trust the process. If you have any questions, your veterinarian’s office may have an emergency number to call with potential concerns.