Tips for a first time breeder

Congratulations! You’re expecting puppies, or at least your dog is but it’s incredibly important you’re a hands-on birthing partner and know exactly what’s going to happen

What do I need to get ready before the birth?

If your bitch is pregnant, it’s important you start making plans as soon as possible. If there are any other dogs in the house, the first thing you need to do is create a safe space that’s guaranteed to be dog free for her. No matter how nice their temperaments, the puppies and mum must be kept away from all other dogs, to begin with.

Now you need to prepare a protected area for her to give birth, this is called a whelping box or whelping pen. This is an enclosed pen, large enough for mum to move around but contained enough to keep all the pups close enough to feed and stay safe. It needs a small shelf or somewhere the pups can hide away as this helps prevent them from being squashed by mum.

This box is going to become messy so make sure it’s well lined with towels and paper and ideally not placed on the carpet. To avoid interrupting the new mum right after she’s given birth, make sure you’ve got lots of layers so they can be removed quickly as they get dirty. It’s very important you’re close by when she’s in labour, so it helps if the whelping box is somewhere you’ll find comfortable too.

Let your bitch get used to her whelping pen through her pregnancy, let her eat in it and spend time in it so she knows it’s her safe space.

When will my dog give birth?

The average gestation period for a dog is 63 days give or take a few days, just like human’s things can happen ahead of schedule or be a little late. If you’re a first-time breeder, your vet will be able to tell you signs to look for if you need to call them.

By the end of the first month of pregnancy, your vet should be able to detect the heartbeats on ultrasound but it’s not until around day 50 of your bitch’s pregnancy that an x-ray will be able to confirm how many puppies are in the litter.

Towards the end of the second month, around day 58, your bitch is going to start looking for somewhere to give birth. Whilst her appetite might have increased in the lead up to her due date, right before she’s about to give birth she’ll probably go off her food. The abdomen will become firm and a little larger and you should be able to see the pups moving in your abdomen.

When she’s ready to give birth, her body temperature will drop, she’ll become incredibly restless and will probably start panting, pacing, or even shivering.

How long will my dog be in labour?

Anything up to the first 24hours might not look like anything to a casual observer but it’s important you stay close by once you notice a change in her behaviour.

Once she’s in stage two, the puppies are ready to make their way into the world. This can take anything from an hour to a day, but the puppies will arrive one at a time. This is where it’s very important to know how many pups you’re expecting, if your bitch has been trying to birth any puppy for over two hours, it’s time to call the vet in as she could be in distress.

Once all the puppies are out, the placenta is delivered and this should happen pretty quickly once all the puppies are delivered.

What do I do next?

If everything has gone according to plan and all the puppies are out your dog’s natural instincts are going to kick in. She’ll lick them to clean them, encourage them to feed and keep an eye on them. During the first few days, you shouldn’t intervene unless you feel you have to as it can damage the bonding. No matter how much your dog loves you, your scent on her newborn puppies could result in her rejecting them.

Your only job now is to keep an eye on everything. Keep detailed notes of all the puppies and make sure you’ve got every possible scrap of information to hand that any prospective new owners might want.

The only time you might have to get involved is if mum doesn’t want to go to the toilet. If you need to take her outside, she probably won’t want to leave her pups for long and she may even want to take them with her (or hide them somewhere she feels they’re safe) if she doesn’t feel comfortable leaving them. Remember it’s very important to keep mum and pups away from any other dogs at least until the puppies are eating solid food.

If you’re worried she’s not looking after her pups or she’s rejecting any of them, you must call your vet right away.

How Petcover can help your pet

Petcover specialises in offering quality, straightforward pet insurance with a range of policy options that suit your needs. Whether your pet is big or small, furry or scaly our range of cover options are packed with added benefits. Accidents can happen at any time and the reality of veterinary costs can come a quite a shock. With our range of cover levels for dogscats, and horses why not get a quote today.