So, my bitch is pregnant! What do I need?

It’s so very easy to be caught unprepared for a litter to arrive. Those 9 weeks of pregnancy fly by and the last thing you want is to be unprepared. If you’ve decided to go it alone with the whelping then make sure you have the following list of things ready at least 2 weeks before the pups are due. Basically, you find out she is pregnant at week 4 or 5 so you have just 2-3 weeks to prepare! Read on….

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Emergency Contact Info

• Primary Veterinarian
• Emergency Veterinarian

Whelping Room Bare Essentials

Coffee and Coffee Pot – Pups usually come at night.  Be ready for a long night.  Sleep when you can.  If you work, be sure your boss knows you’re about to have pups and will not be in to work.
Radio – I play the radio 24/7 for the pups until the day they go home.
Whelping Box – This needs to be large enough for your bitch to lie spread out as she feeds. A whelping ‘area’ will do if you have a large breed. News Paper, Blankets/Old Towels– Whelping is a messy business, so layering newspaper and old blankets / towels, makes it easy to scoop up layer after layer as they get soiled, to reveal a fresh one underneath.
Whelping Mats – Such as vet-bed. Mats help with the mess of whelping, but are also crucial in muscular development of puppies when learning to walk.



Temperature Control

Heating Pad – A heating pad with variable temperature control is a must. I don’t recommend heat lamps as these can be difficult for the pups to move away from if they are too hot and can cause dehydration of the puppies.
Room Thermometer –  so you can monitor the temperature and regulate is as necessary.
Vet Bed Lined Cooler / Underbed Blanket Box – I use these to put the pups in while whelping. It helps maintain their body temperature.

Whelping Room Supplies

Headlamp – I use the head lamp to for added light.  It helps me see what’s going on.

Aspiration Bulb – Used to clear the pups nasal and throat cavities as soon as they are born. ONLY use this if you know what you are doing. Its so easy to use it incorrectly and push fluids further into the lungs.
Haemostats – Used to crimp the umbilical cord if the mom doesn’t take care of it.  Do not cut the cord unless you have it well crimped.  Don’t let mom get to aggressive chewing on the cord which may result in a hernia.
Medical Scissors – Use to cut the cord after crimping if the mom doesn’t take care of it.
Unwaxed Dental Floss – I have never used the dental floss but have it just in case I need to tie the umbilical cord to stop bleeding
Sterile Prep Pads / Alcowipes – Used to clean anything that comes in contact with mom or the pups.
Wash Cloths – I have a stack of wash clothes for me to hold the pups if needed.
Paper Towels
Antibacterial Hand Wipes and/or  Hand Sanitizer &  Gloves– Before touching any puppy after whelping it is important to make sure your hands are sterile. Iodine – I keep the haemostats and scissors in a jar filled with Iodine to keep things sterile.
Rubbish Bags – It’s a messy business!

Pen & Paper – to keep a record of the whelping & puppy ID.

Nutrition & Supplementing

Nutri Drops – Nutri Drops provide glucose and essential vitamins and trace elements for dogs. Nutri Drops for puppies are high in energy that they can help puppies and whelping bitches whenever a fast-acting energy supplement is required. They are often used for slow whelping bitches.


ColoCal D – liquid form of Calcium with the added benefit of Vitamin D to aid the uptake of calcium in the animal. Used for mum once she has delivered her first pup.
Ice Cream – Mom’s sugar level will drop during whelping.  Ice cream serves to help raise her sugar and calcium intake, which helps with uterine contractions.
Cottage Cheese – Another way to help raise her calcium intake if she’ll eat it.
Eggs – I feed a large batch of scrambled eggs cooked in butter with the shell for one full week after whelping.

Syringes – I case of small pups needing supplemental milk, I use a syringe with new-born puppy nipples.

Nursing Nipples –They will fit onto a small syringe,
Supplemental Milk – Get at least one packet of new-born puppy milk. I like Royal Canin Baby Dog Milk. In a pinch and short-term Goats Milk can be used. You’ll know if a couple days after whelping if you need more.
De-wormer –I like to use Panacur Liquid as its easy to dose.
Food Blender or Food Processor – I start the weening process at about three and a half weeks.  I start with blended dog food & puppy or goats milk with a consistency of water.  You’ll gradually change this to well soaked kibbles at about 5 weeks to dry kibbles at about 7 weeks.
Weaning Dish – When they can walk steadily, I feed them in a weening dish.  Until then I use paper plates or saucers.

Tracking & Monitoring

Scales – You’ll want a decent set of scales to monitor the weights of the pups.  I weigh as soon as they are born and twice per day for the first two weeks and then once a day for the next 4 weeks and then once a week until they go to their new homes.
Digital Thermometer – Use this to check mom’s rectal temperature prior to whelping.
Personal Lubricant – Used to help inserting the thermometer into mom’s rectal cavity, and helping if there is a stuck puppy.
ID Collars –  It’s important to monitor their weight gain the first few weeks and so identifying which puppy is which is necessary.
Bitch Temperature Record Chart – Check moms’ temperature twice daily starting 10-14 days before the expected whelp date.  You’ll notice a large drop in temperature from her regular temperature pattern when her progesterone rises.  Labour will generally start within 24 hours. Notes – Take good notes on her nesting behaviour, pushing, eating, defecating, whelping times, etc with accurate times from the time her temperature drops until the last pup is born.
Whelping Chart – Record all the pups identification, whelp time, and ID as they are born on the Whelping Chart.  Things can get crazy during whelping.