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What to expect when you're expecting Puppies! - Part 3 - Preparing for Whelping

Lots of TLC for the Expectant Mum!

So you've made it to P-Day (puppy day) and your girl is around 63 days' pregnant. Exciting times! By this stage you should have the following in place:

Shopping list

  • Tons and tons (and TONS and TONS) of newspaper stacked up near the whelping box. We found that removing all stapled sections and opening the papers flat made for swift paper changes when needed. Get organised and ask everyone you know to start saving theirs.
  • A whelping box set up in a quiet place away from noise and windows. Your bitch should have been sleeping here for the past couple of weeks so she knows this is her safe place. You can buy these as cardboard flat pack jobs off eBay, or if you're handy with ply-board you could knock one together yourself like we (or rather, my husband) did. Dogs like a cave-like environment for whelping, so build one that's at least partly covered, overhead, and make sure you include dowling rod crash bars to avoid mum squashing little ones against the sides.
  • A small soft dog bed for keeping the puppies in while mum is tending to the newest born
  • Several pieces of vet bed. This is the grey woolly stuff with a green backing that wicks away puppy-related moisture and keeps the pups warm at the same time. Several equal-sized pieces on rotation is a great plan, so one can always be in the wash, one drying and one in the bed.
  • A hot water bottle or heat pad for keeping puppies warm if needed.
  • Puppy milk formula for puppies who won't suckle, or for big litters where some pups end up fighting for a teat.
  • A small bottle of Dopram - a stimulant you can buy online for helping revive or wake up puppies that have had a difficult delivery or struggle to breathe when they're born.
  • A few small towels that can be thrown away.
  • A pen and paper to record times of birth, and difficulties encountered and distinguishing features.
  • A phone and your vet's number to hand.
  • Lots of R & RDigital scales and a secure bowl to weigh the puppies in
  • Something soft for you to sit or lie on. You're going to be here for a while...
  • A small plastic box for any stillborn puppies to be placed in.
  • Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. In an ideal world, a coffee machine in the whelping area. Or a personal barista stationed in the kitchen for the next week. Boy, you are going to be TIRED...!!

Nesting

So Maisie continued to grow and her tummy continued to look like a bag of jumping beans, and 64 days after her first mating she finally started to nest. The evening before the puppies arrived she was clearly restless. At one point she was trying to sit behind us on the sofa, and was later found barricaded behind pillows on the guest room bed looking pretty wired.

When we put her to bed that night we heard a lot of newspaper rearranging and shredding going on, which is supposed to be a bitch's response to her discomfort at the start of labour. Her whelping box was lined with newspaper only at this stage, and we added the vet bed once the puppies arrived. We stayed up as late as we could to check on her, then fell asleep at around 2am with our bedroom door wide open and the door to her room (next door) also wide open. I've read that most bitches whelp at night or when it's dark - it's to do with safety from predators in the wild. 

Welcome to the world

Welcome to the World!... And we'd only been asleep for an hour before I woke up to the sound of very small yelping noises. Yep, we'd actually missed the birth of the first puppy but Maisie clearly knew what she was doing. After licking pup number one quite furiously and gnawing at the umbilical cord with her back teeth we then placed the pup on a teat and she started to suckle as Maisie continued to clean her. Twenty minutes later Maisie turned her attention from the pup to her hind quarters, applying similar crazed attention to the area and licking like mad. Lo and behold - another puppy is born!

What To Expect When You're Expecting... Puppies!

This series of blogs won't replace a professional guide by any means, but intends to cover all the bits and bobs I wished I had known from the start, plus things I worked out along the way that were well worth knowing.

Disclaimer bit: I am not a vet and all advice given here is purely based on my personal experience. I can thoroughly recommend The Book of The Bitch as a professional guide for all stages of the process. 

Part 4 - Whelping is now available and if you haven't read it yet, check out Part 2 - Pregnancy.

 

Alice West

Alice West lives in Buckinghamshire and is the proud owner of two gorgeous black Working Cocker Spaniels called Maisie and Dotty, and a one-year-old human called Matilda. Dotty came from Maisie's first litter of puppies - all girls - born in December 2013.

Running a copywriting business from home means Alice can enjoy lovely dog walks on her lunch break, and is distracted frequently by Spaniels chewing her shoes, begging for food and fighting over toys. She works Maisie and Dotty on a very sympathetic local shoot in the winter months. 

View Alice's Google Plus profile here

Alice West

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