What is Whelping?

Chihuahua Puppy

If your dog is pregnant and you’re excited about supporting her during whelping, then this is the place for you!

Whelping is the term used for giving birth to puppies. Frequently, bitches can deliver their puppies without any help.  However, if you want to help your dog, you may sit and be with her during the entire process.  She will feel comfort in having you!

In some cases, you or a veterinarian must intervene to protect the dog and the little puppies. Although it is not common, you must be prepared in case your immediate help is needed.

Knowing the date your dog will be whelping

In order to know an approximate date your dog will be delivering her puppies, you should visit the veterinarian for some x-rays. It is advisable to do it about 60 days into your dog’s pregnancy so the veterinarian can provide a more precise date and tell you the number of puppies your dog is expecting.  In order to prepare for delivery, you will need be sure you have safe and comfortable place for the birth.  A whelping box is recommended.

After you have an estimated delivery date, you will know when to begin watching for behavioral signals. Usually, one of the first signs that the puppies are coming is the dog’s lack of interest in food 24 hours before whelping. Around this time, she may also begin to clean herself and have some abdominal cramping.

The abdominal contractions will start to get more frequent when the time for whelping approaches, about every thirty minutes. Once she delivers her water sac, the first puppy will be coming soon.

It’s puppy time!

Usually, the first pup will be delivered within 60 minutes of the water sac. The first pup tends to be the most difficult delivery and may be painful for your dog.  If your dog is having excessive pain, or trouble delivering the pup, call your veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

Once the pup is born, she/he will be covered in a membrane. Typically, the mother will clean the  membrane away from the puppy immediately.  If she does not begin cleaning her pup after several seconds, then you must do it. It is critical to ensure that nothing is blocking the pup from breathing.

The mother will continue to clean and lick the baby, which stimulates breathing.  If she ignores the little pup, then you can use a clean towel to rub the puppy and dry him/her.  While licking the puppies, the dog might start to present each one of them to you. Although they are unable to see, they will find their way and begin nursing.

The process of whelping usually takes from two to twenty hours. For example, a Golden Retrievers could have three puppies in the first hour, rest for three or four hours, have some more puppies, rest more time, have another puppy and finish the next day. This process is completely normal. Nevertheless, if the dog is straining, and having contractions every minute and no pup comes within thirty minutes, then you must call the veterinarian. Furthermore, if your dog has not delivered the puppies after 65 days of pregnancy, there could be a problem and you must tell the vet about it.

For the majority of dogs, the whelping process will be very natural and healthy. There are some breeds that tend to have more trouble while whelping, including Pekingese, Chihuahuas, Pugs, Boston Terriers, and Bulldogs. For those breeds, veterinary assistance should be taken into consideration before whelping. You must remember that no matter the size, breed, or weight of your dog if she is pregnant, you should regularly communicate her changes to the veterinarian.

After the process is complete, you will be able to enjoy being a puppy grandparent!  Be sure to take care of the dog’s health and wellness, and monitor all the new puppies. Overall, this will be a fantastic experience for you!

Clearly Loved Pets offers over sized, clear walled enclosures that can make an ideal whelping box. The clear walls allow you to monitor your dog’s progress toward the start of whelping, and provide for easier observation after the puppies are born. Check out the colors and sizes available on our website.

Article by Matt Barnett of the Dog Dojo.

The Dog Dojo provides health and wellness tips on dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Matt Barnett - author
Matt Barnett – author