Dog Friendly Tips: Whelping
If a nest is not provided as the whelping time approaches, a dog will make her own. If she is a house pet, she may fix it in a closet, on a bed, or out in the garden. As time of birth draws near, she will settle in her nest and appear to strain. The frequency and intensity of her uterine contractions increase.
It is wise to prepare a nesting area about a week before the anticipated whelping and to encourage the expecting mother to use it. The nest should be located in a convenient place if in a house but not in an area strange to her. A kennel dog should whelp in the kennel and not in a strange new environment, such as a residence.
It is best not to invite neighbors in to see the new puppies since strangers and undue noise create a threat to some new mothers. Many females will destroy their puppies if the environment is not to their liking.
In considering the proper nest it is helpful to examine those typical of females left to their own design. We have seen farm dogs as well as city dogs choose their own locations and have their litters, and there is one feature in common. The nest the female creates is like a giant bird's nest - concave. Bitches dig and scratch, circling constantly in the depression until it is deep enough to their liking.
We can benefit by this observation and provide a concave nest for a planned litter. Corrugated boxes with sides tall enough to prevent puppies from crawling out during their first three weeks of life but not too tall for the mother to jump over are useful and disposable when soiled. The corners should be packed with cloth to make the nest concave and a blanket should be placed over the construction.
Whelping Facilities in the Kennel. As is true in the house, be sure that everything is ready for the puppies. The ideal whelping box is square with the sides a foot high. It should be prepared with the proper bedding made of an absorbent material. Be sure there is an ample amount. Fill the box with the material and then trample it down until it is saucer-shaped rather than flat.
If left to herself, every bitch will hollow out a nest in which the puppies tend to roll into a pile in the bottom, where they keep each other warm. If left on a flat floor, the puppies are more apt to be killed by their mother lying on them.
The preparation of a nest has a great effect upon the success of a litter. Avoid using loose material that is likely to get into the mouths of the young and interfere with their nursing.
For house dogs, we prefer cloth stuffed into the corners of the box with a blanket spread over. During the labour the expectant mother may tear the blanket to shreds but sometime during the labor she stops shredding and another blanket may be added. Much of the cloth will be soiled by fluids from the birth process so this you may remove and launder for future use.
Beware some synthetic fibers such as nylon may wrap around a pup's extremity with a tourniquet action resulting in the loss of a limb if not discovered in time. If the nest box becomes too soiled have a second one on hand with clean bedding to enable a transfer of mum and puppies to the substitute nesting bed.
If the litter is whelped and to be raised at home, a six-foot-high stack of newspapers will be about right for ten pups. During the weaning period the mother stops eating the puppies' excrement and the keeper of the puppies has a constant job of cleaning up after them. A playpen style enclosure or a small room covered with newspapers is the conventional and good way to handle this problem. In warm clear weather they may be taken out to an outside enclosure for part of the day, but keep stray dogs away since young puppies are particularly susceptible to many diseases.