Recommendations for Whelping Bitches

Gestation Time:

  • 63 Days ( + / – one day) from the day of ovulation (or at 56 days from the end of their cycle)

Nutrition:

  • We recommend that bitches in whelp be fed their normal food for the first half of the pregnancy. For the last trimester, we recommend switching to a puppy food or high performance diet which has higher protein levels. No vitamins or calcium supplements need to be given unless your bitch is a toy breed or has had problems in the past.

There are some homeopathic remedies that we recommend & we can discuss them with you. If expecting a very large litter, we recommend “Structure Formula” as a supplement during the last half of pregnancy.

Supplies for Whelping:

  • Whelping Box- Some are commercially made, some are home made designs. You can find designs online or in books. This can be as simple as a child’s plastic pool but we recommend using the ones that have “pig rail” all around. Avoid soft beds or beds that are unable to be washed and disinfected easily. Do not put excessive amounts of blankets in the whelping box to prevent puppies from being entangled and suffocated. It is a good idea to allow the bitch to get used to sleeping in the whelping box during the last week before she is due.
  • Heating Lamp- Pups need to be kept at a room temperature of 80-85 degrees for the first 10 day, then at 75 degrees. The number one reason or pups dying is getting cold. Do not use heating pads. They can become too hot and the pups may be unable to get off the heating pad and become burned. We recommend a ceramic type of bulb as a radiant heat source (you can find them at a reptile store) and protective cover.
  • Thermometer – we recommend a pool thermometer that has a temperature and a humidity reading). Put it on the level with the pups, so you know their  exact environment.
  • Lots of small hand towels used to dry and rub pups.
  • A pediatric nasal aspirator will be necessary to “suck out” any extra fluid or mucous discharge that may be present after birth.
  • Dental floss to tie umbilical cords. Use hemostats Betadine to disinfect umbilical cords
  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Gauze, cotton balls
  • Birth chart
  • Yarn or wrick wrack for puppy identification

Signs of Whelping:

  • Usually, dogs will stop eating about 1 day before or the day of whelping.
  • It is a good idea to learn how to take your dogs temperature rectally. Normal temp for a dog is 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit. In 90% of all dogs, their body temperature will drop to 98 degrees Fahrenheit 24 hours before whelping (this does not apply to a singleton litter). This is an excellent way to monitor when the bitch will initiate whelp. Sometimes a dog’s temperature will vary during the day, it will be lowest in the early morning and creep up during the day. Therefore it is a good idea to take the temp two to three times a day to establish a baseline temperature. When the temp drops and stays low, the dog will whelp in 24 hours. Rarely, the temperature might not decrease to 98 degrees, but a full 1 degree temp drop might be significant.
  • Most dogs will start nesting about 24 hours before whelping. Nesting may include such behavior as tearing up beds, shredding towels or blankets, and sleeping in small areas such as closets or going outside to dig up holes.
  • At the beginning of the actual “birth stage”, most dogs will pant and act uncomfortable or unsettled.
  • If no whelping has started for 24-36 hours past the temperature drop, your vet needs to see you and ultrasound the bitch to ensure pup’s heart rates are okay and they are not in distress.

Whelping:

  • After 30-60 minutes of productive contractions, pups should begin to arrive.
  • Pups are inside of a double-layered membranous sack. This sack should be removed by dam or through your assistance as soon as possible to prevent suffocation. Pups should be dried off and have their mouth and nose suctioned out to help clear the air ways. Most of the time the umbilical cord will be still attached to the placenta. Clamp the cord with hemostats and cut the cord about ½  inch from the pup (where the hemostat is) and tie off with the dental floss if it is still bleeding. Dab the area with betadine. The mother dog will probably want to eat the placenta. It is ok if she eats 1 or 2 but if she eats all of them, it may cause her to vomit. More frequently, eating placentas may cause diarrhea or loose tarry black stools.
  • Pups are usually born every 30-60 mins. If more than 2 hours elapse between pups then there may be a problem. It is a good idea to get the bitch up every 2-3 hours and walk her around. This will stimulate the contractions to become more effective. Make sure when you take the dog out to keep her on a leash or go with her to ensure that no pups are accidentally born outside and left. Car rides work well, as well as feeding her some melted ice cream. If that doesn’t get her going and you are approaching the 3 hour mark, you might need to call the vet’s office.
  • If a pup becomes “stuck” in the birth canal, you may have to gently pull on the pup and help it along. It is normal for some pups to be born hind end first, and do not worry if this happens.
  • When active contractions start and the bitch seems to be straining for longer than 30mins, there may be a problem. Call the office right away, and start packing for the trip.
  • Allowing the pups to nurse on the mom soon after birth during the whelping stages will stimulate further contractions and help the whelping process along.
  • If more than 2 pups are stillborn, call the office, we will need to see you right away.

Signs of Trouble

  • If longer than 3 hours in between pups, call the office.
  • If blackish-green discharge appears, call the office.
  • If hard pushing and no pup is produced in 30 minutes, call the office.

Post-Whelping:

  • Monitor bitch’s temperature and consistency of mammary glands.
  • The pups should be monitored closely for the first 24-72 hours to ensure that the mother is being careful and not lying on the pups in the whelping box or showing any aggressive behavior (especially in first time mothers).
  • The mother will have a brownish to red discharge for 6-8 weeks after whelping. If the discharge seems heavy or has a foul odor, then there may be a problem.
  • While the mother is nursing pups, she should be fed a puppy food or high protein diet at least 150-200% more than usual. Small but more frequent meals are recommended. The amount should be at least 1 cup for every 20lbs of body weight.

Signs of Trouble

  • Fever of greater than 103 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Strawberry and cream or green-yellow discharge
  • Lethargy, non-interest in puppies
  • Hot, red or firm mammary glands

Other Helpful Facts:

  • Pups usually open their eyes at 10-15 days.
  • Most pups should be started on solid food at 3-4 weeks of age.
  • Pups should be weaned at 5-6 weeks of age
  • Pups should remain with their litter mates until 8 weeks of age
  • Pups need to be de-wormed at 3, 6, and 8 weeks of age
  • Vaccinations need to be started at 6-8 weeks of age.

 

 

Source: Reproductive Resources + NOAH