When your pregnant dog's nearing her due date, you'll want to prepare a suitable private birthing area and whelping box, and acquire the supplies you'll need for a successful whelping. Early preparation will minimize everyone's stress.
Most expectant dogs will naturally seek out a suitable place for giving birth. Usually this area is a place where the mother feels safe and comfortable. But you can help the dog by helping her find an isolated area that is quiet, dry, warm and draft-free. Make sure the area is private and not accessible to other pets.
It's usually best to leave a birthing dog alone, especially since dogs can voluntarily stop labor if disturbed. If the momma dog refuses to tend to her brood, here are some supplies you will need: clean towels; sterile surgical gloves for handling a pup that the mother won't clean; blunt-end scissors for cutting the umbilical cord if the mother refuses to do it; dental floss for tying off the cord; iodine for sterilizing the area of the cord to cut; a rectal thermometer for monitoring momma dog's progress; a flashlight; the phone number to the nearest animal hospital or veterinarian in case of emergencies, and a whelping box.
The whelping box needs to be large enough for the mother to lay down completely stretched out on her side, with about 3 inches extra space on each side plus extra room for her newborns. The sides should be low and the box roomy enough to accommodate the entire liter and mother comfortably. Line the whelping box with newspaper before and during delivery. You can change newspaper out quickly and dispose of it as it becomes soiled. After delivery, you'll want to make the whelping box comfortable by removing the newspaper and replacing it with outdoor carpeting or nonskid bath mats. The texture of either will allow the puppies to get their footing instead of sliding on the slick newspaper. You'll place the whelping box in an isolated delivery area in advance of the birth so the mother can become accustomed to it.
Keep accurate records during the delivery. Supplies needed for keeping records are a notebook, a pen, a weight scale, a soft measuring tape and a camera. As each puppy is born, document the order of birth, the time of birth, the weight and length. Also record any distinguishing marks, spots, coloring or traits that will help distinguish each puppy from the others. Note whether any health issues are noticeable, such as difficulty breathing or deformities. Continue to weigh and measure each puppy for the first few weeks of life. Bring these records with you when taking the newborns to the veterinarian for their first visit.
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