We’ve compiled a list of whelping essentials to help you and your dog get through her pregnancy. When your dog becomes pregnant there are lots of preparations that can be made to make the labour as stress-free as possible.
A well-prepared owner greatly improves the odds of each puppy’s survival. These whelping essentials will make sure you’re prepared for all possible outcomes of your dog’s pregnancy.
Emergency Contact Information
Most importantly, keep the contact information for your veterinarian handy, including instructions for after-hours emergencies. If a situation occurs where your dog needs veterinary aid, you’ll be able to make contact as quickly as possible.
Although marketed for puppies, during the final four weeks pregnancy a pregnant dog should also be fed puppy food. Puppy food is higher in calories and contains additional nutrients.
See how many calories your dog requires with our canine calorie calculator.
The whelping box is where the dog gives birth. She should be able to enter and exit the box easily, but there should also be short walls on the box to keep in the puppies.
The box should be large enough for the mother and her puppies for the first 3 – 4 weeks after birth. A normal dog bed can be used if no alternative is available.
Old blankets, newspapers, and towels should be used to make the whelping box comfortable. When the mother gets closer to the birth date, she will start to make a nest.
Plenty of towels should be kept on hand for the pregnancy itself, as these will also be needed to vigorously rub each newborn puppy immediately after birth.
Surgical Gloves and Lubricant
In case the mother needs help delivering her puppies, surgical gloves and a safe, water-based lubricant are necessary. Gloves will limit the potential for infection (and keep your hands clean too!).
Read more about canine pregnancy:
- Canine pregnancy calendar – Detailed timeline for your dog’s pregnancy
- Signs and symptoms of canine pregnancy – How to tell if your dog is pregnant
- Caring for your dog during pregnancy – Tips of caring for a pregnant dog
- Nutritional requirements during pregnancy – More information about feeding mum and pups
Heating Pad, Heating Lamp, and Heated Bottles
The whelping box should have a heated area for the pups. If your whelping box isn’t large enough for this, you can use a separate ‘receiving box’.
Heating pads should be placed beneath a blanket in order to keep the newborn puppies warm. Never place a puppy directly on a heating pad, as this can cause burns.
A heating lamp can also be used, and heated bottles should available in case an emergency trip to the veterinarian is necessary.
Scale, Notepad, Pen
Each puppy should be weighed after delivery and this weight, as well as other important notes throughout the pregnancy, should be recorded.
Regularly recording the weight of the pups will highlight any sudden weight loss, often an indicator of ill health.
A bulb syringe is useful for clearing a puppy’s nasal passage of mucous immediately after birth.
Scissors, Haemostats, and String
Blunt, sterilized scissors are necessary for cutting each puppy’s umbilical cord. A haemostat or string can be used to clamp the cord to reduce blood flow.
Treats for Mum
During long labour, the mother can be given treats such as cottage cheese, plain yogurt, vanilla ice cream, and cooked chicken. These protein and calorie rich treats will help sustain strength and energy.
Milk Replacement and Pet Bottles
Newborn puppies should be placed on a nipple as soon as possible. If complications occur or the mother is not producing milk, bottles and milk replacement formula are necessary.
Share your whelping essentials, tips and tricks!
Any whelping essentials missing from the list? Let us know in the comments below. We’d also like to hear any tips or tricks you have for when mum begins whelping. If you’re expecting puppies soon, why not share your story with us and tell us what helped you and your dog.