Dog breeders should not interfere with their whelping bitch while she is giving birth, however, as a responsible breeder you should always be ready to offer assistance if anything goes wrong during labor or right after. Each quality breeder should have a dog whelping kit ready to be used if need be. We list you the must-have supplies that you should have in your whelping box, with our recommendation for each item.
First and foremost, you should speak to your vet during your bitch’s pregnancy to seek advice and make sure he is aware that, in case of emergency, he will be the first person you will call. Before reading the list of supplies to get for your dog whelping kit or box, there are some basics to have on you at all times:
- Your vet’s number on speed dial
- A vehicle available, with gas, just in case
- Clean newspapers, dry towels, and sheets
- A friend to assist you if an emergency occurs
Your Dog Whelping Box
The other important part is the nest itself, you can read our article about the best dog whelping boxes on the market right now and also instructions on how to build a whelping box yourself. The box has to be ready a couple of weeks before the due date and your bitch needs to slowly be familiarised with it. It will be her home for many weeks and this is where the litter will be kept most of the time. Your bitch’s whelping box should be spacious enough for her and the pups; it also and has to be clean, warm, dry and comfortable:
- Heating pads or a hot water bottle (read our heating pad guide here)
- Bedsheets, towels, rags, and newspapers
- Rails (called Guardrails, Box Rail, Pig Rail) to prevent the puppies from being squashed against the sides when the bitch stretches out
All these should be ready before the whelping itself, usually a week before the due date but you will need more than that for the D-Day!.
Dog Whelping Kit Supplies
You will need important supplies to be ready if anything happens while your dam is giving birth. A good whelping supply list must be complete although there is a very slim chance for you to use it; you should actually wish not to use it. Yet, your whelping supplies have to be easily and quickly available at all times during your bitch’s end of pregnancy.
Pair of Round-Tipped Scissors
You could use regular scissors but round-tip scissors are safer especially when dealing with fragile puppies. They come handy if you need to cut the umbilical cord for one or several puppies.
A hemostat is a surgical tool used mainly used to control excessive bleeding. You may need a hemostat to crimp the umbilical cord. They are also called hemostatic clamp or forceps.
Unwaxed Dental Floss
If you cut the umbilical cord and then use the hemostatic clamp to fold it and reduce the bleeding, you may have to tie the cord and dental floss is ideal for this. Simply make sure you are using unwaxed floss.
Surgical Gloves & Lubricant
While the dam is giving birth, you should stay well away to supervise the whole process. However, if anything requires your intervention, use gloves to be as sterile as possible. Do not manipulate and handle the puppies or the dam with bare hands, you could pass on your dirty microbes to them.
High Precision Scale
If you read our post on how to give special care to newborn puppies right after birth, you now know that you will have to keep track of each puppy’s weight curve as the progression must be noticeable and will follow some standards.
Ask your vet to get your breed’s “normal” weight for the first few weeks. Your task will be to regularly check your pups’ weight, individually, using a quality dog scale. Disinfect the scale after you checked the whole litter.
Thermometer, Petroleum Jelly, Notepad & Pen
Often, even if everything goes pretty well, you will need to monitor and track your puppies’ temperature. The reason behind this is simple: newborn pups are unable to regulate their own body temperature. They need their mom and/or dad to make sure they stay warm, otherwise, the puppy’s temperature may fall too low. To take the temperature, use a rectal thermometer, vaseline and you will need to leave it in the pup’s anus for a minute.
Note the time and the exact temperature on a notepad each time you do check. We’ve got a review of the best dog thermometers out there if you need some guidance on picking the right one for your dog whelping kit.
Ribbons to identify puppies
When one puppy needs assistance, it is sometimes just a check-up to perform every few hours and note the evolution. In some litters, all the puppies look the same and you may check the wrong ones. You cannot separate them from their mom, so you may have to use a delicate ribbon around a foot or the tail so you can identify your puppy.
Puppy Milk Substitute
Puppies can’t just eat solid food out of the womb, that’s a fact. Imagine if the dam has a problem and cannot milk-feed them for any reason: you must have a substitute that would give you a few days to find a solution with your vet. The second fact, puppies don’t drink in a cup. You need to buy the most suitable bottles, called preemie bottles. We have a full review of the most suitable puppy milk replacers, going from Goat’s Milk as the healthiest solution to Esbilac which is the popular choice.
Nutri-Cal for Dogs
Being a high-calorie nutritional supplement, Nutri-Cal for Dogs is loaded with minerals and vitamins. It is a convenient temporary solution for dogs who go through a loss of appetite and are ‘off food’ for whatever reasons (here, a delivery that went wrong.) Easy to administer, you should always have one with you just in case one of your dogs needs a boost of supplemental nutrition.
Disposable Sterile Syringes
Some dams feel not super after they gave birth, they feel uncomfortable, they are too tired to walk around and sometimes too exhausted to even feed themselves. In that case, you should always have disposable syringes in case you need to syringe fluids into her mouth. The fluid can be for nutritional supplementation, feeding, medication or a regular injection.
For the bitch, the calcium is a super boosted as it helps her parathyroid gland releasing a hormone, the parathyroid hormone, from her bones to give her more power for pushing and stronger muscles. As for the puppies, the calcium supplements should be used with more precautions but vanilla ice cream can be helpful as it is a great way to hydrate them and provide them with an energy boost thanks to its glucose.
You’re home overlooking your whelping dam, she has an issue, you are trying to help her and boom, a power outage at 1 am. Ok, this never happens but even if it happens once in a blue moon, you do have to face the situation and light the room up. A flashlight or a battery-ran lamp should suffice.
As you can see, putting together a quality whelping kit for your dogs takes a bit of research but it is totally with it. You get to pick exactly what you want to have in it!
Featured image credits to flickr/cristinabe under CC2.0.