We’ve assembled a basic Lion Country Supply – Guide to Whelping Puppies that I’m sure you’ll find helpful. With the help of my animal reproduction tech and my friend Dr. Fred Metzger, this guide provides insight to help you get ready for the big event. Some ideas that you’ll find here are not readily found in print but recommended reading so please feel free to ask questions here on my blog and I’ll try to respond here with buck’s advice and that of my super vet and repo tech friend Jessica Mayes.
1. Digital thermometer with covers (one to only use on the dogs)-their temps will drop below 99 about 24 hrs before labor beings and then will go back up to normal (101-102) about 12 hrs before labor.
2. Hemostats or unwaxed dental floss-I personally don’t like using the dental floss because it’s hard to get ahold of and tie when your hands are messy. I like straight tipped hemostats…put 1 on the umbilical cord about 1-1.5 inches away from the puppy’s belly, then put another one about 2″ from that…cut in between the two hemostats. One will stay on the puppy for about 5-10 min to get the bleeding to stop, and the other will stop the placenta from going back inside the momma until it expels completely, do not attempt to pull it out.
A big debate is whether or not to let them eat the placentas, as they do in the wild…my personal thoughts are that I let them eat a couple because it helps the milk letdown and strengthens the contractions for the next pup. I keep a trash bag close and throw away the rest. It’s a personal decision though, and there is no ‘wrong’ decision.
3. Small scissors-to cut the umbilical cord. I like dull tipped ones so I don’t accidentally poke anyone in all that commotion.
4. Bulb syringe or Dulee Mucus Trap-to suction out the fluids in throat and nose. We no longer ‘swing’ puppies to get fluid out of the lungs! And actually, it has been discovered that allowing some of the fluid to remain in the lungs until after the puppy has taken a few breaths is good. You really only want to suction the mucus out of the back of the throat. The fluid in the lungs actually has a ‘surfactant’ in it, which help the lungs first expand…basically think of a newborn puppy’s lungs as a raisin and the surfactant helps it expand to the shape of a balloon. It’s very important to get that full expansion so maximum breathes can be taken.
5. Latex gloves-are good at keeping your hands clean, and if you need to insert a finger or two to help get a puppy out, it’s much more sanitary than your hands.
6. Loofah hand gloves-in the spa section of your local store. Sounds weird, but the scrubby texture can help pull out a slick little puppy that is half-way stuck.
7. KY jelly (or some other type)-very helpful to help lubricate momma and puppy if puppy’s sack has busted or the lil bugger is just slightly stuck. If you have a thin red rubber, you can insert it in the birth canal behind the puppy and squeeze in some jelly to help get a stuck puppy out. (Make sure you don’t get the jelly that ‘heats up’ or ‘tingles’…momma probably won’t appreciate it).
8. Heating Pad, heating lamp, whelping nest (or some other variant)-puppies cannot control their own temperature until they are 2 weeks old and need a constant heat supply. I like to have heat on 1 side of my whelping box and no additional heat on the other side, so if the puppies get too warm, they can move off the heat. At 2 weeks old, remove the heat source.
A Whelping Nest is a smart breeder investment that Lion Country Supply sells and can easily be added to your whelping box. The round, dish shape helps keep puppies together and the programmable thermostat will keep their temps between 96-100 degrees. And it’s very easy to clean.
9. Digital food scales-I like to make a chart to keep track of the puppies weight. I weigh twice a day for the first week and then once a day for the next week. Usually once they’ve made it past 2 weeks, I only weigh occasionally. Anyone can lose a little weight on the first day, but after that, if they loose more than 10% of their body weight…it’s an emergency. They could be not nursing at all, not nursing enough, simply dehydrating, or fading. It’s the single most important thing you can do detect a puppy that is fading and save it!!!
10. Old towels/puppy pee pads-I usually have at least 2 towels for every puppy I am expecting…you can throw them in the dryer just before it’s time to whelp and they will be nice and warm for when the puppies come out. Pee pads are great to line the whelping box with because you can just throw the mess away after it’s all over. Or you can use old towels in the whelping box too…just make sure you change them out with fresh ones after whelping (they’ll be pretty messy and gross).
11. Whelping box-for small dogs, I use a 1/2 sided plastic tote…the sides keep the puppies in and mom can jump in and out easily. There are whelping box instructions available to purchase from Lion Country Supply for medium to ex-large dogs.
12. Puppy bottle and a can of formula, just in case.
13. I also like to have full fat plain yogurt and regular vanilla ice cream on hand for momma. While she’s whelping and after, the ice cream can be very soothing and a good source of calcium, and it will cool her off. And I also consider it a treat for the momma. Then I add plain yogurt to the momma’s food AFTER she whelps up until she weans the puppies. Some people use cottage cheese or Tums…it’s just a matter of personal preference.
14. She should be really ramping up her food intake by now, I let them eat as much as they want this close to being due. She should either be on puppy food at this point or still on her high quality food with DHA supplements. Also, lots of fresh water.
15. And if the momma has long hair, I like to cut or shave their belly and around the nipples to make it easier for the pups to get to the nipples. And I try to cut around her backside and vagina, just for ease of clean up.
16. Oxygen and Oxytocin, Epinephrine, Dopram-all only with a vet’s permission and prescription. Oxytocin helps strengthen contractions and can be used as a ‘clean out shot’ after all the puppies are whelped. Epinephrine can start the heart beating. Dopram can start respirations. Oxygen can be used on puppy’s that aren’t breathing well.
17. Red raspberry leave supplements-this one can be controversial, so use your own best judgment after doing some research. It has been shown to increase the length and strength of contractions during labor. However, there have been some results suggesting that it has also caused the momma to abort. If I use it, I only start it about 2 weeks before their whelping date, that way the puppies are already pretty well along. But again, do your own research and do what you feel is best.