6 Tips on Dog Pregnancy and Whelping
Whelping Tips and the process of birthing puppies. Right from the initial dog pregnancy phase until the labour – is referred to as ‘whelping’.
This entire process takes around 60 to 65 days, depending upon the litter size: larger litters might whelp a few days early, while smaller ones can be three to four days late.
If the mother is a large dog breed, you can expect to have a litter of up to 15 puppies. Smaller breeds may give birth to no more than a single puppy.
Other than that, the age of the dog is also an essential factor.
Regardless, knowing the length of your dog’s pregnancy, as well what will happen during this stage and beyond, can help you make adequate preparations.
In this blog, we will cover a number of tips that will help ease the whelping process for you and your dog.
Tips on Dog Pregnancy and Whelping
1) Dogs Require Prenatal Care
Get your dog tested for pregnancy after around four weeks of mating. The earlier the pregnancy is confirmed, the sooner the veterinarian can create a personalized care plan, and the sooner you can begin to prepare.
Occasionally, the vet may advise an ultrasound to determine the number of puppies or screen for potential health problems.
If your dog has long hair, she will require more frequent grooming. Make sure her tummy and back-end hair is groomed prior to delivery to ensure a smoother delivery and make it easier for the puppies to find their mother’s nipples.
2) Whelping Tips on offering a Adequate, Balanced Diet
Ideally, your dog should start consuming a nutritious diet shortly before conception.
In most cases, a pregnant dog can consume a normal canine diet up until the final month or two before delivery.
During the final pregnancy stages (around the last three weeks), the dog will need extra food to avoid malnutrition. You may even need to temporarily change your dog food brand and switch to one that provides additional nutrition.
During labour, make sure to have water at hand that the dog can drink between births. Also have a milk substitute for the mother after the births, and some feeding bottles or syringes for the newborn puppies, just in case.
3) Keep the Newborns Warm and Comfortable
Newborn puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature during the first few weeks of their life. Hence, they will need an external heat source to manage the temperature and keep them warm.
During the first four days, puppies should be kept under a temperature of 29 to 32 degrees Celsius (85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit); you can achieve this by placing a heat pad under the whelping box.
After the four initial days, the temperature can be lowered to around 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). This temperature should be maintained until the puppies are at least one month old, after which, you can go further down to 22 to 24 degrees Celsius (72 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit).
Use a thermometer to determine the temperature of the whelping box and make sure that it is not too high or too low for the puppies and mother.
Puppies are unable to see or hear during the first three weeks of their life; for this reason, exposure to artificial light sources should be kept to a minimum.
Once your pups get used to the sound and light, you should transfer them to an enclosed space.
4) Whelping Tips and Choose the Right-Sized Whelping Box
Although puppies grow quickly, we recommend using a smaller whelping box at least during the first few weeks.
This will help limit your puppies’ movement. As per a 1966 study, this limited movement will help prevent damage to the puppies’ undeveloped joints, which is often the result of excessive crawling around before time.
At the same time, your whelping box should be large enough for the mother to comfortably get in and out of it without accidentally landing on or harming her puppies – this is particularly important for large breeds or inexperienced mothers.
There are a few spots or regions that your whelping box needs to have:
This should be a small region in the box where newborn puppies can rest and sleep during the first week. Many dog owners use lined laundry baskets for this purpose, depending upon the size of the litter and the mother.
The bigger region is for the mother to give birth in and for the puppies to move around during the initial week.
While special whelping boxes work best for this purpose, you can also use child-sized swimming pools.
Get a few Sherpa pads or rubber-backed bath mats for the floors on both of the above spots.
5) Recognize the Signs of Labour and Birth
Just before birth, pregnant dogs tend to become swollen and restless, or even produce a bit of discharge.
Shaking, panting, nausea, and vomiting are all normal signs of impending birth.
The water sack appears and breaks, followed by the birth of the first puppy.
The afterbirth may come next or be with the birth of the subsequent puppies, so make sure to have a suitable place to dispose of it.
6) Maintain Records
Make detailed notes about everything that happened during the labour and pregnancy stages, particularly about things that seemed out of the ordinary. These notes will help your veterinarian identify or deal with potential complications.
Record each puppy’s sex, weight, and any birthing problems encountered during or after labour. Also note down the exact time of each puppy’s birth. If you want to record the births, keep a camera ready at the time of delivery.
You may also want to loosely tie numbered ribbons around each puppy’s neck to make them easier to identify.
Final Word on Whelping Tips
Adequate preparation helps ensure an easier labour and pregnancy phase for your dog, and a smoother post-birth life for the mother and her pups. We hope that the tips discussed in this guide will help you understand more about your dog’s pregnancy and prepare yourself accordingly.
To explore our full range of dog pregnancy and whelping equipment, please feel free to visit our website.