Village Vets Australia

Top 9 Things to Know about Puppy Whelping

Whelping is the term used when dogs give birth to those adorable, irresistible animals we call puppies. Keep reading for the top 9 things you should know about whelping.

Follow these 9 expert tips to know everything there is about whelping.

1. Your vet is your best friend

While, yes, your dog is actually your best friend, for the next couple months, your vet will step up to the plate and be your main support system for your canine bestie. Call your vet as soon as you notice your dog is pregnant. Bring her in for a check-up and work with your vet on a plan for the due date.  Pregnancy lasts between 63-65 days, so you have plenty of time to prepare.

Leading up to the due date…

2. Keep your dog separated from other dogs and animals

Those last three weeks of pregnancy can be hard on your new mum’s immune system. To ensure she doesn’t contract any parasites or illnesses that will compromise her puppies’ health, keep her away from other animals. And try to exercise her indoors instead of outside. This will protect the health of your future puppies—even if your proud canine mum is carrying 101!

3. Keep close to home

Some pregnant dogs will become unusually attached to her owner in the days leading up to whelping.  So much so that she will refuse to whelp if the owner isn’t there. In light of this, it’s best not to plan holidays or trips away from home during and around the due date.

4. Choose the perfect whelping space

Now’s the time to decide where your much-loved, slightly fatter canine should have her precious pups. Choose wisely as this will be her (and their!) sanctuary. Pick a spot that’s quiet, warm and sheltered from drafts. A large closet works great. Or even better, that spare bedroom you turned into a gym—just make sure to clear the dust before anyone notices.

5. Set up the whelping box

It’s best to do this a few weeks before the due date to get your dog used to the protected area. Construct a box in the whelping space that’s sturdy, low and wide, giving your mum-to-be a comfortable, confined space to be with her pups when they arrive. Line the box with about 10cm of newspaper to absorb fluids released at birth. Avoid blankets or sheets as they will only get soiled when mum starts popping out her pups. And it’s best to keep other animals and children away from the box as foreign smells may alarm your protective mum.

The big day!

6. Nesting means it's time

Your dog will start taking all that newspaper you strategically placed in the whelping box and rearrange it to her exact specifications—at least 72 times. This is called nesting and she’ll do it anywhere between a few days to 12 hours before the first puppy is born. It’s also not uncommon to see your mum-to-be carry family clothing to her precious space. What better way to make her feel protected than fabric that smells like her beloved carers?? (that’s you, by the way)  Allow her to nest, and praise her as she does it. She’s letting her motherly instincts take over—it’s a beautiful thing.

7. Whelping can take up to 22 hours

Once labour has begun, it’s time to put on the kettle and prepare for a long night ahead. 

8. Give your whelping mum space

Keep an eye on her but allow her to do her job. All pups are born inside a placenta sac and, as the first pup is born, your good canine mum will break open the sac and cut the umbilical cord. She’ll then allow her new pup to nurse while she starts the process all over again with its siblings.

9. Keep in contact with your vet

Once the whelping process has begun, call your vet. They will be able to walk you through any complications your mum-to-be might encounter and will generally be a good, overall support for you in your seemingly scary but incredibly rewarding whelping journey.

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