Mother dogs are typically exhausted right after whelping, naturally. They're also usually messy and sticky during that time. If you're looking after a proud new canine Mama, cleaning her shortly after birth might help her feel more comfortable. She might not be in the right mindset for it just yet, however.
When you're caring for a mother dog and her little pups, the goal is to always maintain as hygienic and spick-and-span an environment as possible. Once mom is done giving birth, clean her as thoroughly as you can without annoying her, suggests veterinarian Ernest Ward on the VCA Animal Hospitals website. If she doesn't seem open to it, try again a little later when things aren't quite as hectic. Remember, mother dogs are extremely busy right after giving birth, with responsibilities that range from feeding their hungry pups to keeping them all warm and secure.
Cleaning a mother dog after delivery should be a simple and straightforward task. Get a clean cloth and moisten it with warm water. Gently wipe her body down. By doing this, you can help eliminate any discharge and blood that might be lingering around her nipples and the rest of her body. If Mom's body is clean, it can help maintain the immaculate cleanliness of the new pups' living quarters, as well.
Keep Mom clean, in turn, by ensuring that her whelping box is always clean, too. Mother dogs should never be caring for their babies over damp and unclean bedding, period. After your Mama dog gives birth, the bedding in the box may be sticky from the delivery. Replace the dirty bedding immediately with fresh and clean sheets, towels or blankets. If you used newspaper for the whelping box, throw it out immediately. It's important to ensure that the whelping box remains a sanitary environment in which the mother dog can nurture her puppies during their tender earliest days and weeks in the world, says veterinarian Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld, author of the "ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs."
While you might be tempted to give the nursing mother dog a bath right after whelping, give it a little time. She'll likely be too preoccupied with her motherly responsibilities to accept being away from her puppies for the amount of time necessary for a full-blown bath. Instead, wait until she stops giving off vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge for several weeks after whelping is totally normal in dogs, as long as it's devoid of any smell. The discharge can be deep reddish-brown or green. It's sometimes tinged with blood, too. Wait to bathe Mom until the discharge starts to decrease. By bathing her at this point, you can help spruce her up and eliminate any bad body odors. You can help get rid of any old remnants of discharge. You can even help get rid of old, dead hairs that might be in her coat. If she's still nursing her puppies, use a mild canine shampoo that is suitable for lactating mothers and their offspring. Consult your veterinarian for suggestions regarding specific shampoos on the market.
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Breeding for Dog Owners - Caring for Newborn Puppies
- Parkway Animal Hospital: Breeding Your Dog
- PetPlace.com: Care of the New Mother Dog
- The Book of the Bitch; J.M. Evans and Kay White
- Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine: Whelping Your Puppies
- ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs; Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld
- The Complete Book of Dog Breeding; Dan Rice
- Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images