How to Help Your Dog Whelping?
Dog Whelping simply put, the process through which a female dog gives birth to her puppies is known.
Whether you are an experienced breeder or this is your first encounter with dog whelping, learning and understanding the entire process can make it smoother for both you and your pet and help you better prepare for any surprises along the way.
In this guide, we will cover the whelping fundamentals and best practices to help you become better prepared and informed in this regard.
Signs of Imminent Dog Whelping
Over a period of approximately 48 hours, pregnant dogs go through multiple whelping stages. As the initial stage begins to approach, you should watch out for the following:
The closer your dog gets to her due date, the more uncomfortable she is likely to feel. Keep an eye out for any inconsistencies in eating habits, and make sure she is receiving enough nutrition to keep herself strong and healthy.
Watch for any changes in behavior. For instance, some mothers start hiding in quiet places as they look for a quiet, safe whelping place. She may also become agitated, needy, or attempt to stretch her body. The added weight on the body will affect her stamina, and you can expect to see more frequent panting. She may also begin to urinate more often.
Early Signs of Labour
During early labor, the birth canal begins to soften and the tissues turn more flexible. At the same time, the cervix effaces (thins) and dilates to allow puppies to pass into the lower canal. No active pushing is involved during this process, which is why you need to keep a close eye for the following signs of early labor and prepare accordingly:
Drop in Temperature
Your pregnant dog’s temperature may start dropping around 12 to 24 hours prior to active labor. Make sure to have a thermometer available and measure the dog’s temperature at least thrice a day. Use your readings to maintain a chart at least one to two weeks before the delivery date so you can easily notice any dips in temperature.
For reference, normal temperature in dogs ranges between 38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius (101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit) but, during whelping, it can go down to 36.6 or 37.2 degrees Celsius (98 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit).
Contractions and Nesting
Around 8 to 12 hours before whelping, your dog may become extremely comfortable and restless and begin to experience involuntary contractions.
Around this time, many pregnant dogs begin to look for a safe and warm space where they can lie down – this is referred to as nesting.
Behavioral Changes during Dog Whelping
The discomfort may cause your dog to start shivering and panting. She will also start licking her vulva intensely and frequently. At this point, your dog should safely be in her whelping box.
During the pregnancy phase, the cervix is sealed by a mucus plug which creates the ideal uterine environment for embryo development and growth. When a dog enters early labor, this plug is released from the cervix, leading to uterine discharge.
The mucus is generally clear and white, but may turn red with blood shortly before the birth of the first puppy.
Helping Your Dog during Early Labour
Perhaps the single most important way to help your dog during early labor is by giving her calcium. Calcium allows the uterine muscle to slide and consequently ensure effective and strong contractions. The smoother and stronger the contractions are, the more efficient the whelping process will be.
Execute the following steps as soon as your dog enters early labor:
Once your dog enters early labor and her temperature begins to dip, start administering calcium supplements. You can administer them either in the form of liquid or gels. Oral calcium works best for whelping dogs since it is easily absorbed through the membranes and need not be swallowed.
Check her progress every two or three hours and, at each point, give her another dose of calcium. Keep doing this for up to four doses before the birth of the first puppy. If the first puppy arrives sooner than expected, great! You want the puppies out as soon as possible.
As a rule of thumb, the whelping process, especially where larger litters are involved, should be completed within 12 hours – and calcium plays a key role in meeting this target.
Helping a Dog whelping during Active Labour
The active stage of labor is when the contractions begin and the puppies start to take birth. Once the first puppy arrives, you should wait around 30 minutes between the births of each subsequent pup.
Once a pup enters this world, your foremost priority is to help them breathe and begin nursing on the mother. While the puppies can do this on their own, you can save stress and time by following the below steps as each puppy is born:
Helping them Breathe during Dog Whelping
Using a hand towel, detach the amniotic sac from the newborn’s nose, wipe mucus and fluid off their mouth, and start rubbing them to help them breathe independently.
Cutting the Cord
If required, you can shorten the umbilical cord to three quarters of an inch and immerse the umbilical in a strong iodine solution – this will help dry the cord out and reduce the risk of infection. If necessary, an umbilical clamp can be kept on for a maximum of 48 hours.
Helping Them Nurse
Rub the newborn’s nose sideways on the mother’s nipple – this will attach them to the nipple and encourage them to begin nursing.
Final Word on Dog Whelping
To sum up, now that you are up-to-date about the various whelping stages and how you can help your dog during each one, you will be adequately prepared when the time comes.
To learn more about whelping and how to prepare yourself and your pup for it, please feel free to check out some of the other blogs on our website.