Whelping Box Taking Care Of Your First Litter


It can be thrilling and satisfying to whelp your first litter, but it can also be overwhelming if you’ve never bred dogs before or watched your dog give birth. There are many things to plan for, such setting up the whelping box, being aware of what to have on hand for the puppies, and understanding how to keep the newborns warm. See our guide to whelping below to learn all you need to know.

Whelping: What is it?

The process by which a dog gives birth is called whelping. The majority of dogs are capable of giving birth on their own, but occasionally, just like people, certain canines may experience issues that could endanger the mother or her babies.

Whelping Box

When is the deadline for my bitch?

Noting your dog’s due date gives you an approximate time to start looking for signs of labor and gives you a deadline for getting everything ready. However, keep in mind that some bitches can whelp a few days after or even before their due date, particularly if they are expecting a large litter. Pregnancy in most dogs lasts approximately sixty-three days (give or take a week, depending on the size of the litter). You can determine when your dog is most likely to give birth if you know when she ovulates or when she mates.

How can I get ready to give birth?

Make sure your veterinarian is aware that your dog is pregnant, if you haven’t already. Make sure your dog is registered with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Throughout your pregnancy, your veterinarian will be available to you for advise and will be there in case of an emergency during whelping. Ensure that you have their phone number stored on your phone or written down in a convenient location, both during business hours and after hours.

Speak with the breeder of your dog and educate yourself on what to anticipate from “typical” labor. Having a better understanding of what typical labor entails will make it simpler to identify any potential issues before they get out of hand.

What do I need to assist my dog when they are being weaned?

Try keeping everything you’ll need in one box, bag, or location if your dog is about to give birth so it will be simple to locate and easy to grab when she goes into labor.

You’ll require:

  • A box for whelping
  • Newspapers are an absorbent material that can soon get sodden and stay wet and cold in the whelping box; alternatively, puppy pads, incontinence pads, or vetbeds can be used.
  • To assist in cleanup during labor, use paper towels or clean towels.
  • Towels for the puppies’ cleaning and drying
  • If necessary, sterile scissors for cutting the umbilical cord
  • A means of providing heat for the puppies—such as heating pads or heated, towel-wrapped water bottles—beside, inside, or above the whelping box
  • A notebook to keep track of the durations between contractions and puppies
  • digital scales for the puppies’ post-birth weight. It helps to know their starting weight so you can monitor any weight increase or decrease.
  • Fresh bedding for when the workday ends

A whelping box: what is it?

A whelping box is a container intended to provide safe haven for puppies after their birth and in the weeks that follow as they develop into more self-sufficient adults. The purpose of a whelping box, which you can purchase or build yourself, is to keep the puppies warm and safe.

A box for whelping should:

  • Be roomy enough to allow the bitch to spread out and move around without restriction, but still leaving some extra space. Make sure it’s not too large; if it is, the puppies might move too far away from her, get chilly, or stop eating.
  • has sidewalls that are high enough to keep newborn puppies safe and prevent them from escaping while still allowing the bitch to walk in and out.
  • Stay cozy and warm.
  • possess a watertight foundation
  • be lined with easily cleaned, absorbent bedding (such as towels, vetbeds, or whelping pads) that won’t slip when relocated.
  • Keep yourself protected and secure. To prevent any puppies from being pressed up against the walls, some breeders install “pig rails” along the sides, which are about three to four inches high.

Avoid using straw, wood shavings, or hay in your whelping box since these materials can harm the puppy’s eyes and skin. Additionally, it’s best to have one large piece of vetbed rather than several small blankets or pieces of fabric because the puppies could wriggle underneath them and either smother them or be crushed by their mother.

Is it possible to use a crate to house a pup?

It is up to you what you use for your whelping box, but it needs to be secure enough to keep your dog and her puppies safe. While some people build their own boxes or repurpose items that can be modified to fit, others would rather purchase a box made just for whelping. A drawback to crate training is the possibility of puppies inadvertently poking their heads through the bars and becoming trapped.

Are dogs that nest before they whelp?

Typically, during the final week of pregnancy, dogs start exhibiting behaviors related to nesting. Most dogs naturally have this inclination to assist them locate a peaceful, safe area to give birth and raise their puppies. It’s a good idea to introduce your dog to her whelping box and make sure she’s comfortable with it before she goes into whelp, as some may try to dig holes in the garden beneath bushes.

Where would be the ideal location for my dog to give birth?

Make careful to find a location for your dog’s whelping box that can comfortably accommodate them. It ought to be a cozy, warm space that isn’t drafty. Additionally, make an effort to select a room where your dog may get some quiet time without being bothered all the time. For some dogs, a crowded family sitting room might not be the best place. Even when you’ve selected the best spot, some dogs may have different ideas and decide to go somewhere else.

When ought my dog to be placed in a whelping box?

It’s crucial to allow your dog some time to adjust to her whelping box. A week or so before her due date, make sure that everything is organized, in place, and ready to use. This should give your dog plenty of time to settle in, investigate it on her terms, and establish a secure haven for herself.

How can I keep the heat on my puppies?

Maintaining a temperature of between 29°C and 32°C in the whelping box after your puppies are born is crucial. It’s crucial to keep newborn puppies warm until their ability to control their body temperature improves. Although they may curl up with their mother to stay warm, it’s a good idea to have an additional source of heat. Heat lamps, water-filled or electric heating pads, and microwaveable heat pads are among options. Whichever option you select, confirm that the source of heat is:

  • is positioned so that the puppies can flee if it becomes too hot.
  • doesn’t stop the mother from getting up, relocating the whelping box, or going outside to fetch water.
  • contains no parts or cables that the puppies could chew on.
  • is best placed in the middle of the box to entice the puppies to move away from the sides so their mother can’t squish them up against the sides by lying down on them.
  • able to be checked with a thermometer to make sure it’s not excessively hot or cold

I’m going into labor; should I leave my dog alone?

Being with your dog during her puppy delivery is an excellent idea, particularly if:

  • You have never raised a child before
  • It’s a first for your dog
  • Your dog is a little older
  • Has there been anything wrong with her pregnancy

Being ready to go enables you to take quick action in the event of an emergency. While some dogs might enjoy having their owners around all the time, others might need a little more room. To assist your dog feel less stressed, try to involve yourself as little as possible or maintain a distance if your dog would like to be left alone.

What a puppy should be fed

It’s common for your dog to refuse food either prior to or during labor. They need to stay hydrated because labor can be a thirsty job. If they do, make sure she has access to lots of cool water.

What signals do whelping initially exhibit?

Before going into labor, a bitch’s temperature will often decrease by one to two degrees Celsius. You might take her temperature two or three times a day starting about a week before her due date and record it to give you an early warning.

The initial indications that a dog is about to give birth can differ, however they may consist of:

  • Having agitation
  • assembling bedding, circling, or excavating the ground to make a nest
  • locating a peaceful place to go and spend time alone (preferably the whelping box)
  • consuming less food
  • generating milk, albeit this may occur as much as a week prior to delivery
  • licking her private parts
  • having diarrhea or being ill
  • Sighing heavily
  • Trembling
  • Usually white or transparent, she may discharge a mucus plug from her vagina, but closer to the puppy’s arrival, it may turn reddish-brown

She might relax and start having contractions as the time to give birth approaches. As labor progresses, these contractions will increase stronger and closer together. Your dog’s waters may burst when the time to give birth draws near.

Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible if you have any questions when your dog is in labor. Having a knowledgeable breeder you can get in touch with for advice or non-urgent inquiries is also beneficial. Having an experienced breeder by your side to help you along is invaluable if you’re a novice breeder.

What is the duration of dog whelping?

This is largely dependent on how many puppies are anticipated. Most dogs need between three and twelve hours to give birth to their entire litter during whelping, though this might vary depending on the breed of dog. Dogs with smaller heads typically give birth faster than those with larger or wider heads. Some dogs may give birth to one or two puppies very fast, follow by a period of rest before the onset of labor again. Work should not take longer than a day. Always contact your veterinarian right away if you think that your dog’s labor is taking too long or isn’t advancing between puppies.

What occurs during whelping: a detailed explanation

  • When to anticipate receiving the first puppy – It normally takes the longest for her first puppy to come. The number of puppies she has and the intensity of her contractions will determine how soon this happens. After contractions begin, the first puppies may appear anywhere from thirty minutes to four hours later.
  • What do you see when you first look? The puppy in its amniotic sac is typically the first thing you notice as it starts to emerge. The puppy is surrounded by a flexible bag. This might rupture when the dog is born, and the placenta might come with it.
  • Which way is it, heads or tails? – Your puppies will often arrive head first, however occasionally they will arrive tail first. These two are typical.
  • Amniotic sac: A thin sac or membrane surrounds puppies upon birth. Your dog will gnaw through the umbilical cord, remove the membrane, then lick and clean the puppies. She won’t normally require assistance, but some bitches might neglect to take care of the recently born puppy in favor of the next one that will arrive. Make sure the puppy’s mouth and nostrils are clear and that the sac is broken if you need to assist. To assist the puppy in taking its first breath, gently massage them with a fresh cloth or encourage their mother to lick them. To encourage respiration in their puppies, some breeders blow on their noses.
  • Feeding: The pup should start eating as soon as it is born, once its mother has cleaned it up. Try rubbing the puppy’s nose sideways on their mother’s nipple if they are having trouble finding food or drinking milk.
  • Green discharge: The placenta of a dog has a greenish-black color. After a puppy is born, there may occasionally be a small amount of green discharge during labor. However, an excessive amount of green or dark discharge from your dog’s vagina could indicate a problem, especially if the puppy hasn’t been born yet or it’s been some time since the puppy was born.
  • Between puppies: Your dog should appear at ease and content as she tends to her young till the onset of new contractions.
  • When may I expect the next puppy?Puppies are usually separated by 15 to 30 minutes. Speak with your veterinarian if:

Although she is not exerting herself, more than two hours have passed

If she is exerting herself for more than twenty to thirty minutes and no puppy is showing up,

  • Placenta birthing: Every puppy has a placenta during its development in the womb. In doing so, the puppy receives oxygen and nutrients for growth. Usually, your dog will deliver the placenta and puppies separately. She might give birth to a puppy first, then its placenta, and so on, or she might give birth to multiple puppies and placentas in succession. These two are typical.
  • Puppies and placenta counts Numerous breeders attempt to count the placentas and puppies as they emerge, though this isn’t always as simple as it seems. You can determine when she has done giving birth and whether she has any placentas retained by counting these. A placenta that your dog keeps may infect them.
  • Consuming placentas – Your dog might consume the placenta of her puppy. While common, this is not necessary. Probably plays a major function in keeping her nest neat and clear, rather than being a vital nutritional purpose. Try to limit the amount of placentas she eats because eating too many can make her sick or induce diarrhea. When the placentas come, some breeders attempt to remove them from the whelping box as quickly as possible.
  • Assisting – The majority of canines give birth without assistance. While some breeders prefer to let their dog handle things on its own, others like to assist with cleaning up the puppies, checking their respiration, and cutting and tying off the umbilical chord. Try to have a knowledgeable breeder available to assist with any questions you may have.
  • Vet check-up: Two to three days after birth, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to ensure that both your dog and her puppies receive a comprehensive examination.

Do I need to tally the afterbirths?

While counting the placentas your dog gives birth to is a good practice, it’s not always easy to implement. It could be challenging to count a dog’s placenta if they attempt to consume it as soon as it is formed, unless you are closely monitoring them. The placenta may decompose and flow out when your dog urinates, around 24 to 48 hours after it is passed. Consult your veterinarian if you think your dog might have a retained placenta or if you observe any bloody or foul-smelling vaginal discharge in the coming days. In some cases, a retained placenta can result in an infection.

difficulties while whelping

The majority of dogs give birth to their puppies without any complications at all, however occasionally there may be problems during or after delivery.

See our articles on pregnancy and whelping difficulties to learn more.

How do puppies typically come into the world? Do they typically emerge in reverse?

Puppies typically arrive at the birth site with their heads (anterior presentation) or back legs (posterior presentation). These two are typical. Difficulties may arise if the puppy starts to emerge breech, or bottom first and tail first. Contact your veterinarian right once if you notice the puppy’s tail hanging out of her vagina, if your dog appears to be having trouble passing her puppy, or if there appears to be a lump behind her vulva.

What signs indicate that a dog is stuck?

While the majority of puppies are born healthy, some may get caught in the birth canal. The following are indications that your puppy may be trapped and need your veterinarian’s assistance:

  • She has been struggling for about thirty minutes, but no dog has appeared
  • The amniotic sac or portion of a puppy is visible in the birth canal, but it remains there for 20 to 30 minutes
  • If she appears to be in a lot of pain, particularly if she is constantly licking or chewing on her vulva.
    If your dog is not showing any signs of improvement and you notice the puppy’s tail hanging out of its vagina
  • If there is a lump behind your dog’s vulva and she appears to be having trouble passing her puppy

Puppies can be born as soon as 24 hours apart?

While it is not common, puppies might very rarely be born 24 hours apart. You should seek help from your veterinarian if your dog has been in labor for a whole day and is still experiencing contractions or if there are still puppies to be born. Your dog may be too tired to take care of her babies in addition to the fact that the puppies need to be let outside.

When to call your veterinarian

Tell your veterinarian a few days in ahead if your dog is about to whelp so they can be prepared to assist you if needed, or to let you know if there may be any issues getting in touch with them.

Even though major difficulties after childbirth are uncommon, the initial experience can nonetheless be rather overwhelming. A knowledgeable breeder is always helpful to have on hand to assist with any questions, but it’s also helpful to have a schedule of when to get in touch with your veterinarian.

Please get in touch with your veterinarian if:

  • The initial whelping symptoms (restlessness, pacing, and panting) have passed for more than 24 hours, and there are no indications of a contraction
  • Two or three hours ago, her waters broke, but nothing has happened
  • It’s been more than two hours, and she’s in between giving birth without struggling
  • There is no indication of a puppy, and your dog has been straining for more than thirty minutes
  • The amniotic sac or portion of a puppy is visible in the birth canal, but it remains there for 20 to 30 minutes
  • If she hasn’t given birth to any puppies yet or it’s been some time since the last dog was delivered, she may have a green or dark discharge
  • She’s bleeding profusely
  • She had an odorous discharge
  • She appears to be in great distress or is quite exhausted, especially if she is biting on or licking her vulva frequently
  • She appears ill or is frequently sick
  • She gives way
  • She exhibits excruciating stomach ache
  • The puppies are not eating well or are weeping all the time, for example, thus there is a problem
  • You’re worried that some placentas may not have passed

Puppies should accompany you if you have to take your dog to the veterinarian. Place them in a different box with a hot water bottle or heat pad to keep them warm. If you use a hot water bottle, ensure sure the pups can’t burn themselves on it and that the hot water bottle is covered to prevent skin burns.

How to determine if your dog is done whelping

Your dog will probably start to unwind and provide the puppies more attention once she has done whelping. Labor can take longer than the typical 3–12 hours. The best method to determine whether your dog is done with mating is to count the puppies and compare the result to the number you were expecting if your dog underwent a pre-whelping x-ray or scan. If you are expecting additional puppies and they haven’t shown up in two hours, ask your veterinarian for advice. Recall that pre-whelping scans should only be used as a rough guide to predict the number of puppies because they are challenging to interpret precisely.

How should I handle my dog’s birth?

Your dog will require some time to care for her puppies, form bonds with them, and get some rest once they are all delivered. Ascertain her comfort and provide a peaceful, quiet environment in the room she is in. Your dog can be dehydrated and/or hungry as well. Feed your dog in the room where she whelped when it’s her first feeding after labor. While some breeders prefer to offer her food while she’s in the whelping box, others prefer to put it outside. Either way, they make sure that the food is removed and cleaned up after she’s eaten.

Make sure you inform your veterinarian that your dog recently gave birth to puppies. In order to ensure the health of the bitch and her puppies, your veterinarian ought to be able to visit your home. Learn more about the post-whelping initial veterinarian appointment.

How soon after birth can I handle a puppy?

A newborn dog is safe to touch as soon as they are born. The majority of dogs are able to tend to their puppies by making sure they have enough air to breathe, cleaning them up, and licking them. A few breeders are eager to assist their dog with cleaning up, making sure the puppy’s mouth and nose are clear, and massaging the pups to encourage breathing.

The next phase is to raise and care for your puppies.

Your pups are now born, and before you send them to their new homes, you must ensure that everything is done correctly. Study up on caring for and nurturing your puppies.

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