Preparing Your Whelping Kit

Car
           Have your car ready in case you have to make a quick trip to
           the vet’s office. Ideally, you’ll have someone to drive while
           you sit with the bitch. Take some towels with you because it is
           very common for the bitch to start delivering with the motion
           of the car. You should protect your car’s carpeting or
           upholstery with a sheet or blanket that can be washed. Make
           sure the car is gassed up and ready to go. If you need to make
           the trip, you don’t want to have to delay for things like that.
          
    Whelping Box
           A box with sides large enough for the bitch to stretch out
           comfortably. She and the pups will live in the box for the
           first few weeks. The whelping box should have guard rails (also
           called pig rails) extending from the sides to protect the
           puppies from their mother rolling over on them.
          
    Newspapers
           Keep a good supply of newspapers on hand to line the whelping
           box during the actual whelping. As the papers become messy, you
           can just put a new layer down and clean the whole thing up when
           the whelping is over.
          
    Trash Can
           Keep a trash can on hand for use during the whelping and while
           the pups are growing up. Trust me — puppies are messy!
          
    Incubator Box
           You’ll need a smaller box on hand to put the puppies in when
           Mom is delivering another puppy. You don’t want the pups to get
           cold so line it with a towel and keep it near a heat source or
           put a heating pad under the towel. A clean laundry basket works
           well for this — and is easy to carry when you need to take the
           pups to the vet for their first checkup.
          
    Sharp Safety Scissors
           For cutting the umbilical cord.
          
    Quick Stop Powder
           To stop bleeding, if there is any, after cutting umbilical
           cord.
          
    Betadine
           For cleaning umbilical cord end after cut.
          
    Hemostat forceps
           For clamping off the umbilical cord prior to cutting it. You
           can use two and tear the cord as an alternative to cutting it.
           This helps inhibit bleeding.
          
    Dental Floss
           For tying off the umbilical cord after cutting it.
          
    Surgical Gloves
           Use if you have to help deliver the puppies.
          
    Digital Thermometer
           For checking the bitch’s temperature in the day’s before her
           due date.
          
    Bulb Syringe
           For helping clear out puppies who are born with problems.
          
    Flashlight
           Puppies always seem to come in the middle of the night and if
           you need to let your bitch go outside, you’ll need to keep a
           close eye on her. A good strong flashlight will make that
           easier.
          
    Leash and flat buckle collar
           Same reason as above. If you take her out on a leash, she’s
           less likely to disappear into a dark corner and leave a puppy
           there without your knowledge.
          
    Clock
           For timing the whelping and the time between puppies.
          
    Notebook
           For recording details. The puppy sheets mentioned in the record
           keeping sheet will work as well.
          
    Rickrack Ribbon
           For identifying puppies. Tie a loose bit around each pups neck
           when you check them out and weigh them after birth.
          
    Food Scale
           For weighing the puppies at birth and daily thereafter.
          
    Heating Lamp
           A 100 watt bulb installed with a dimmer switch in one corner of
           the box will allow puppies to move toward the heat if they are
           too cool. The dimmer switch will allow you to control the heat.
          
    Fan
           If the weather is very hot, you should keep a fan on hand. This
           is more for the mother than the pups. Don’t set the fan up to
           blow directly on the pups but rather to move the air across the
           top of the whelping box. If the mother is panting a lot in the
           whelping box once she’s finished and has rested, set the fan up
           so that she can cool down and be comfortable with the puppies.
          
    Whelping Box Pads or Blankets
           While the pups are still in the whelping box, you’ll need to
           keep a blanket or pad in their box. This pad will need to be
           changed twice a day or more, depending on how well the dam
           cleans up after the pups. A piece of fleece with a towel sewn
           to the back the same size as the whelping box makes a great
           pad. They can be washed and bleached to keep them clean. Having
           four on hand will keep you from having to do endless laundry.
           Don’t put these pads in the whelping box until the whelping is
           over.

Whelping the Litter
          

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Pregnancy Timeline

Pre-Season
  
      * Choose your stud dog ahead of time. Let the stud dog owner know
        when you expect your bitch to come in season. They’ll let you know
        about any requirements they have.
      * You should choose a backup as well, just in case your first choice
        isn’t available
      * Have your bitch examined by a veterinarian to ensure she is
        healthy. Have a brucellosis test done as well.
      * As soon as you see first signs of your bitch being in season,
        contact the stud dog owner. If your stud dog is out-of-the-area,
        you’ll want to discuss shipping arrangements at this time so that
        you’ll be able to make all the necessary arrangements.
      * If this is your bitch’s first breeding, you’ll want to know when
        she’s ready to be bred. See your veterinarian about smears and/or
        progesterone testing. This will help you pinpoint the right time
        to get your bitch to the stud dog. This will typically be between
        days 10 and 15 but could be much earlier or later.
      * You’ll also want to schedule a brucellosis test so that the
        results will be current for the stud dog owner.
       
   When the bitch is ready
  
      * Contact the stud dog owner and let them know when and how the
        bitch will be arriving.
      * If you are shipping the bitch, the stud dog owner will pick the
        dog up at the airport and will need all the information. You
        should send all the paperwork with the bitch. You can just tape an
        envelope to the crate.
      * If you are delivering the dog yourself, get good directions and
        bring all your paperwork.
       
   When the bitch comes home
  
      * Your bitch will stay with the stud dog owner for a week or two.
      * When your bitch comes home, you should get some paperwork with her
        from the stud dog owner, including a contract, copies of the stud
        dog’s health clearances, the stud dog’s pedigree, and information
        on when the bitch was bred.
       
      _________________________________________________________________
                                      
 Pregnancy Timeline
 
   Week One
  
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
          
           + Fertilization occurs
           + 2 cell embryos are in the oviduct
           + The embryo is fairly resistant to external interference in
             development
            
    CHANGES IN THE BITCH
          
           + Possible morning sickness
           + Possible personality changes
            
    CARE OF THE BITCH
          
           + Normal feeding
           + Check any and all medications with vet prior to administering
           + No insecticides (i.e., flea treatments)
           + No live vaccines
            
    TO DO LIST
          
           + Put together pedigree on litter
           + Write contract
           + Contact AKC for litter registration application
           + Start taking puppy reservations
            
   Week Two (Days 8-14)
  
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
          
           + Embryo will be 4 cell at start of week and 64 cell by end of
             week
           + Embryo enters the uterus
            
    CHANGES IN THE BITCH
          
           + Possible morning sickness
            
    CARE OF THE BITCH
          
           + Continue as with Week One
            
    TO DO LIST
          
           + Nothing special this week
            
   Week Three (Days 15-21)
  
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
          
           + Day 19 — Implantation of embryos in uterus
            
    CHANGES IN THE BITCH
          
           + See above
            
    CARE OF THE BITCH
          
           + See above
            
    TO DO LIST
          
           + Nothing special this week
            
   Week Four (Days 22-28)
  
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
          
           + Development of eyes and spinal cords
           + Faces take shape
           + Fetuses grow from 5-10 mm to 14-15 mm
           + Organogenesis begins– Embryos are at their most susceptible
             to defects
           + Days 26 – 32 are the best days to palpitate (i.e.. feel for
             the puppies)
            
    CHANGES IN THE BITCH
          
           + Possible clear vaginal discharge
           + Mammary development begins
            
    CARE OF THE BITCH
          
           + After Day 26, palpitation may be possible to diagnose
             pregnancy
           + Limit strenuous activity (such as working, jumping, long
             runs)
           + Add 1/4 cup cottage cheese or a hard boiled egg to food on
             alternating days
            
    TO DO LIST
          
           + Schedule ultrasound or palpitation with vet if desired
            
   Week Five (Days 29-35)
  
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
          
           + Development of toes, whisker buds, and claws
           + Fetuses look like dogs
           + Gender can be determined
           + Eyes (previously open) now close
           + Fetuses grow from 18 mm – 30 mm
           + Organogenesis ends — embryos are fairly resistant to
             interference with development
            
    CHANGES IN THE BITCH
          
           + Swelling becomes noticeable
           + Loss of “tuck-up”
           + Weight will start to increase
            
    CARE OF THE BITCH
          
           + Slightly increase amount of food and switch to puppy kibble.
             If you feed one meal a day, add an extra meal. If you feed
             twice a day, slightly increase one of the meals.
           + Add daily multi-vitamin
           + Palpitation no longer possible due to fluids in uterus
            
    TO DO LIST
          
           + Nothing special this week
            
   Week Six (Days 36-42)
  
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
          
           + Development of skin pigment
           + Fetuses should weigh around 6 grams and be 45 mm long
           + Fetal heartbeats can be heard with stethoscope
            
    CHANGES IN THE BITCH
          
           + Nipples darken and enlarge
           + Abdomen continues to enlarge
            
    CARE OF THE BITCH
          
           + Add cottage cheese or hard boiled egg to food daily
           + Increase the amount of food in the extra meal
           + Bitch should start sleeping in whelping box
            
    TO DO LIST
          
           + Assemble whelping box
           + By this time you should be fairly sure that the bitch is
             pregnant. Notify the people on your puppy list. Let them know
             when you expect delivery.
            
   Week Seven (Days 43-49)
  
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
          
           + Growth and development continues
            
    CHANGES IN THE BITCH
          
           + Abdomen hair will start shedding
           + The bitch will start to look pregnant at this point
            
    CARE OF THE BITCH
          
           + Slightly increase both meals
            
    TO DO LIST
          
           + Stop any roughhousing or jumping
           + Radiographs (X-rays) possible to determine number and size of
             puppies
            
   Week Eight (Days 50-57)
  
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
          
           + Fetal movement can be detected when bitch is at rest
           + Puppies can safely be born from now on
            
    CHANGES IN THE BITCH
          
           + Milk may be squeezed from nipples
           + The bitch will be very large.
            
    CARE OF THE BITCH
          
           + Add moderate lunch
            
    TO DO LIST
          
           + Gather whelping kit (see below)
           + Prepare phone list for help/support. It should include your
             vet’s phone number, the emergency clinic’s phone number, the
             number of any friends who will be offering support during
             whelping, and anyone else you might need to contact before,
             during, or after whelping (like your office to let them know
             you won’t be in!)
           + Make sure your car is gassed up and ready for a possible
             emergency trip to the vet’s office.
            
   Week Nine (Days 58-65)
  
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE PUPPIES
          
           + Growth and Development continues
            
    CHANGES IN THE BITCH
          
           + Nesting behavior may be seen
           + Bitch may become distressed (panting, pacing, acting
             uncomfortable)
           + Temperature should be around 100.2-100.8 degrees Farenheit
           + When temperature drops to around 98-99.4 degrees Farenheit,
             puppies should be born within 24 hours
           + Appetite may disappear as whelping approaches
            
    CARE OF THE BITCH
          
           + Start taking temperature three times a day
            
    TO DO LIST
          
           + Notify vet or emergency clinic when temperature drops so that
             they will be ready if you have any problems
           + Keep detailed records on temperature and behavior of bitch
           + Double check that whelping supplies are ready
            
   Post Partum
  
      * Make sure each puppy gets some of the bitch’s colostrum (first
        milk) within first 24 hours.
      * Lochia (vaginal discharge) should be reddish to reddish-brown
        (green is okay on first day). If you see black discharge, contact
        your vet immediately!
      * Within 5-6 hours of last puppy’s birth, take bitch and puppies to
        vet for check up. The vet will ensure that the bitch hasn’t
        retained any puppies or placentas and that the puppies are in good
        health. You especially want to check for cleft palates as these
        puppies probably won’t survive and should be euthanized now.
       
      _________________________________________________________________

Preparing Your Whelping Kit