When dogs give birth, do you ever wonder what happen during the process? Do you think they need that like humans, they also need to have a place and a well laid plan before they actually deliver a baby?
The answer is YES. Before, during and after a dog give birth, there has to be preparations that need to take place.
These preparation will ensure that when your dog births, you will have everything ready and will not risk the health or safety of your pups In this article, I will actually introduce you, new breeders and dog lovers to how you will go about whelping your puppies.
What are whelping kits?
First, let us define what whelping means for you to better understand what whelping kits are and what it does. Whelp is a verb which means to give birth to a puppy. With this definition, we can say that whelping kits are a set of materials or equipment needed when your dog gives birth to her puppies.
As a first timer, honestly, we were not prepared for having a whelping kit. Me and my husband just knew then that Bella had to have a place to give birth to and it has to be inside the house. Safe to say that we were clueless with the whole thing.
With the help of a fellow breeder, which was the owner of the sire (male dog used for studding), Zap (Bella’s partner), he helped us in preparing for the things that we will need once Bella gives birth.
He gave us a list of the basics that we needed to have in order for whelping to be successful, which we will list here in this article for your reference. He started with making sure we have a whelping box.
This is the most important and I will give you a more detailed idea of what this is later on in this post. So going back, when I heard “whelping box”, guess what my first reaction was - “What is a whelping box????” Then of course, after contemplating if we were already ready for breeding or not, I had to be calm and use different possible resources.
After all the work of gathering the information when it comes to taking care of my pregnant dog and my soon-to-be puppies - alas! I was able to connect the dots and began to understand it better. So there, I looked for what a whelping box is and the rest is history.
Now, we are able to successfully help Bella for whelping 3 batches of healthy puppies thanks to the recommendation and tips from our fellow breeders, google and our vet!
To return the favor, I will be indicating all the tips that have been given to us in this article with the hopes that we can also help you when it is your time to help your dogs whelp.
Why are whelping kits needed?
So, based on the how I defined what a whelping kit is and what it does, I guess that we can definitely say that whelping kits are important.
So let us put it like this, when a mother gives birth to a child, you just do not go into labor unprepared - you just don’t. This is the same thing when whelping puppies.
It is a must that you prepare beforehand everything that needs to be used so that when the time comes that you will be helping your dog whelp, everything is within reach and you are not risking your dam or her puppies lives.
For your reference, here’s a few more reasons why whelping kits are needed:
Keeping your puppies contained
When you have newborn pups, much like a human baby, they are really fragile and can be hurt easily.
During the first week, for example with an American bulldog, they will start to crawl and can go in different places of your house, that is if you do not have a whelping box where they should be placed.
So this is one of the main importance of having a complete whelping kit which includes a whelping box. It will keep them contained in one place and you have the peace of mind that they will be safe there.
Once we discuss the different types of whelping box, you will see that there are whelping boxes that keeps the puppies from being hurt by their moms too.
Keeping your puppies warm
There are equipments in your whelping kit like, rags, heat lamps and paper towels that is being used to keep your puppies warm.
Remember that coming from their mother’s womb, these puppies are not used to coldness of the surroundings. To help them adjust to the environment and keep them as warm as possible, you will have to have the needed materials ready.
Keeping the puppies and mommy clean
Part of your whelping kits would also involve cleaning and safety equipments like alcohol, sanitizers, gloves and so on.
Take note that your puppies’ immune system are still very low and their ability to fight germs are still very little which means they are likely prone to get sick.
With this in mind, you need to be ready in making sure they are all well protected together with mommy too as she spends most of her time near her pups during their early weeks.
Keeping everything documented
Most breeders might say this is not as important as the rest but to me, I’d like to keep things organized and I would want to record everything that is happening with my dogs.
If you are that type of person too and you want to be able to share every single thing that happens to your dog or puppies when you visit the vet, then having a booklet ready, jotting down notes of the most important things or events will be helpful.
This journal or booklet can also contain phone numbers of vets and clinics for your reference.
Whelping Kit Checklist
Just like what I mentioned initially in this blog post, we didn’t have an idea of what was needed when we helped Bella whelped her first batch. We did have some materials like the whelping box but not the whole “kit” as how we would say it.
Since we were pretty new with the whole “whelping” thing, we were not as prepared compared to her 2nd and 3rd batch. I guess, how I can say it was, we charged it all to experience. We were lucky that whelping her first batch of puppies went well but of course, you cannot rely on luck all the time.
As a responsible breeder and dog owner, you need to be ready with a checklist during whelping to make sure that everything will go well as planned.
Also, having a checklist in hand will ensure that everything you’ll need for whelping is just one step away and you can make use of it any time.
Let us start with the most important equipment in your puppy’s whelping kit - the whelping box. There are a lot of kinds of whelping box that you can choose from and in the items below, I’ve actually indicated a description so you will have an idea of what to expect from each type of whelping box.
Different Types of Whelping Box
Whelping Box. Personally I have to say that this is the most important part of your whelping kit.
As I mentioned earlier, a whelping box keeps your puppies contained so they do not crawl anywhere, which they sure do once they reach their 1st to 2nd week. Now there are different types of whelping box for your reference.
It varies depending on the material used and I will share the benefits for each type so that you won’t have a hard time choosing the best one for your puppies.
Plastic whelping box
Since these are made of plastic, they can definitely be reused after washing and it will be damaged by the puppies urine or water. It is also bacteria resistant and easy to clean, plus there are no sharp edges which is really good for your puppies.
Wooden whelping box
This is commonly used because it is highly durable and is best for big dogs. Same as plastic whelping box this can also be reused and you can just repaint them so that it gives a new look everytime.
Cardboard whelping box
Compared to the first two types of whelping box, a cardboard whelping box is not really durable and it has to be kept in a dry place as it does not sustain well in wet conditions. This is more of a temporary whelping box solution but is still good for short term purposes.
Whelping box using pig rails
For us, this is the whelping box that we chose because this type of whelping box helps divide the mom from the puppies especially when they are sleeping. Since Bella is a big dog, we didn’t want her to squash her puppies so we had to make use of pig rails to make this possible.
Steel whelping box
This is the most first-class and is considered as a high quality whelping box. Aside from the fact that it is really durable as it is made of steel, it is easy to clean and looks really attractive.
Your Whelping Kit Buying Guide - Choosing the Perfect Whelping Box
Now that you are aware of the different types of whelping boxes in the market, now, I will actually help you make the decision on which to choose following the different considerations like your litter size, dog size and the like.
Guide # 1: Dog Breed Size
First consideration when buying a whelping box is of course knowing how big is your dog. Although we know that we are all dealing with puppies here, you need to consider that the mother needs to have some room when laying with her pups and nursing.
If you have a small dog like a Pomeranian, then definitely you will not require a big whelping box for her and her puppies.
On the other hand, if you are breeding American bulldogs, like us, then you need to make sure that your whelping box can accommodate the mother to give her enough room to move around and change positions while nursing her pups.
Remember that not because big whelping boxes are for big dog that is automatic that it is also good for small dogs.
Although it gives the dogs and puppies room to move around, it gives too much room so the mother may have the option to be in the whelping box but the puppies will have a hard time looking for her when it is nursing time.
A balance on with the dogs size as well as the box is a very important consideration - that I have to say.
Guide #2: Knowing your Litter Size and Frequency
Next consideration is definitely your litter size. If it is the first time your dam is whelping, you can check the regular litter size of her specific breed.
You can also check how many litter mates did your dam have when she was whelped - all these should give you a good idea of how many you expect.
For some breeders, they would rather schedule xray or ultrasound sessions to know how many puppies are they expecting per batch.
If you are expecting less than 3 puppies, then you can proceed with having a smaller whelping box compared to expecting 6 or more.
You need to be sure your puppies, together with their mom will have room to grow as they will spend a minimum of 2 weeks in the whelping box.
Let’s say for us, we were expecting between 8-10 puppies per batch, therefore, we had to have a bigger whelping box that can accommodate that amount of puppies.
The frequency of your dam whelping is also another factor to consider. If you will be letting your dam whelp puppies every 6 months, then you might need a whelping box that is definitely reusable and durable months and even years of usage.
There are whelping boxes that will initially cost a lot but if you come to think of it and you plan to whelp several batches of puppies - then savings will definitely outweigh the initial cost.
If you do not plan on whelping too many puppies then you can opt to just buy a less durable one that will save you in terms of cost.
Guide #3: Space Requirements
The place where you will be placing the whelping box is also factor that is worth considering. Although the placement of a whelping box in your house is not permanent, it will still take some space out of your floor area.
If you have allotted a specific room like a utility or stock room that is cleaned and prepared for your whelping box, then it is all good. If not, then you need to consider the space it will be taking from your either your living room, your garage or any other room in your house.
If you do not have the luxury of space then you will need to settle with a smaller whelping box.
Guide #4: Dam’s Temperament
We all know that a dam’s temperament would most likely change during whelping and after giving birth to the puppies.
Most dogs would get aggressive and when this happens I highly suggest a bigger whelping box for her to move around and be comfortable with the changes and pain she is still feeling.
If your dam is “motherly” type and wants to clean her puppies and keep all of them around her, then a smaller whelping box might be more beneficial to you.
You also need to be observant if your dam loves to chew on things, corners, move things around, even the whelping box as you will also need to bear this in mind when choosing the best material for your whelping box.
For example, if your dam likes chewing different things, like what most dogs would do, then it is a good idea to consider steel or metal whelping boxes so that she won’t chew on this material knowing that this is really hard.
My #1 Recommendation
Although there are several guidelines that you need to consider, it doesn’t mean that only one over the other will be your best option.
Of course, you also need to consider a combination of factors like having big dogs and at the same time, a higher litter size or a big dog breed that you plan to whelp regularly. So there are many considerations to make, too many factors that will affect your decision.
If you were to ask me, I would recommend Lakeside Plaza Magnabox whelping box as it has different sizes for you to choose from.
Whether you want a small box for your small dogs, a big box for your big breed and playful dogs, they have it all. Not only does this product offer different sizes, it also has a space saving feature once you are done using it and you needed to keep it for future use.
Whelping Kits Tips
Now that you have become familiar with one of the most important equipments of a whelping kit, the whelping box, here below are additional tips we have mastered when it comes to whelping kits.
Types Of Whelping Box Chosen
As I have stated above there are several types of whelping boxes and you can choose whichever the best for your puppies depending on their size.
In example for small breed dogs, a cardboard whelping box is much more appropriate to use aside from the fact that these small dogs are not heavy enough so they will not require too much durability.
On the contrary, for big dogs like ours, (Bella is an American bulldog), it is advisable to have either a steel or a wooden whelping box with railings to keep the dam from accidentally squishing her newborns.
Steel whelping box may be really durable but a higher cost needs to be considered should you choose this.
Puppy Formula is a nice to have but should only be used in cases of emergency.
Emergency like there is not enough milk to go around, let’s say your dam gave birth to 10-12 puppies. Much like breastmilk, your dam’s milk should still be the priority for her puppies.
Although your puppies are your main priority after your dam gives birth, she should also get the same attention from you.
Remember that a tired mom cannot mother well so you also need to make sure that your dam gets enough rest, food (feed her as much as you can and she can) and water.
If you can provide her vitamins or supplements so that she can heal faster and regain her energy and strength do so provided that you have checked this with your vet.
Each breeder has their own “whelping kit checklist” that they follow everytime their dam whelps but one thing that they never miss is to have their vet’s number handy as well as a vehicle that can take them to vet in case emergency happens.
For us, since Bella is part of the large breed dogs, there was high probability of her having a c-section when giving birth (same goes with English bulldogs), having this in mind, we made sure that in case anything happens, we can immediately rush her to the hospital when needed.
Always keep your whelping area clean and sanitary to prevent germs and bacteria to come in contact with your new pups. This should cover both the inside and outside part of your whelping box.
Ensure the area is well disinfected and make use of items that will not be harmful to your new puppies.
Whelping pads or cloth in the whelping box needs to be cleared regularly so that bacteria build up does not happen which can often cause puppy infections.
Once you have bought your whelping box, it is a good idea to complete your kit by buying the following items which is part of your basic whelping kit:
Having a whelping kit handy and a choosing a well thought off whelping box is the best strategy especially that your end goal in breeding aside from producing quality puppies is to make sure that your dam whelps safely and that your puppies stay safe and healthy too.
I hope that as breeders or dog owners, that I was somehow able to help you in knowing and understanding the best and different whelping kits especially whelping boxes for your puppies.