What to Expect When Your Dog Is Expecting: All You Need to Know About Having Puppies

If your dog is expecting, chances are, you have done a lot of research. There is much that goes into responsible dog breeding, and anticipating the arrival of your new litter is exciting. But, are you ready to be having puppies?

When your dog is having puppies, they rely on you to have a good handle on what to expect. Luckily, you aren’t alone. Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates is here to support you.

Prenatal Pet Care

As soon as you know that your pet is expecting, you have work to do. Good prenatal care is paramount to having strong and healthy puppies, and an equally strong and healthy mother.

For the most part, pregnant dogs know how to take care of themselves. They do, however, require your help in a few areas:

Make nutrition a priority – A pregnant dog needs extra calories and quality nutrition to grow healthy puppies and produce food for them. Select a diet that has been approved for growth and lactation (check the AAFCO statement on the bag). Diets marketed for puppies are typically suitable. Call us if you need help. Remember that, as pregnancy progresses, your little mama may prefer smaller, more frequent meals to accommodate her shrinking stomach volume.

Encourage activity – Pregnant pets are still able to exercise, and most should continue to stay active. A conservative exercise routine can help to maintain physical health and ward off boredom. Watch your mother-to-be for signs of fatigue or over-exertion, and decrease the level of activity accordingly.

Maintain a good wellness program – It is important that we care for your pet as a team during this crucial time in her life. Prior to conception, all appropriate vaccinations should be boostered to protect your dog and allow her to pass immunity to her pups. We can help you to develop a parasite preventative plan that is safe to administer throughout pregnancy (not all products are). Mother dogs should visit us a few times prior to and during gestation, so that we can be sure that she’s doing well and address any special needs or concerns that may exist.

How to Help When Your Dog Is Having Puppies

As you approach the two-month mark, you are likely to be pretty excited, but are you really ready? There are some things that you definitely want to do, in order to prepare for the arrival of a litter of pups. Take some time to:

  • Learn to take Mom’s temperature; a temperature drop of about a degree often happens just prior to whelping
  • Prepare a clean, quiet place for your pet to whelp
  • Get together some laundered, soft rags to help clean pups
  • Find some clean thread, dental floss, or umbilical tape to help tie off umbilical cords
  • Purchase a small scale (a food scale works well) to weigh pups
  • Keep our contact information handy, in case of any problems

When it is time to have the puppies, the mother will likely find a secluded place to have them. Resist the urge to bother her; rather, keep a close eye from a distance. Be sure to keep other pets and children away from her, as she needs her privacy.

Once Mom begins to strain, you can expect a puppy to emerge within 30 minutes. In most cases, a dog will have a puppy every 45 minutes to an hour. Active straining for over an hour, or taking a longer than four hour break between pups, are both indications that you should call us.

Once puppies begin to be born, it is important the membranes that surround them are removed. Usually mom will do this within a few minutes, but if she does not, use a clean towel to gently remove them and dry the fur. You may then tie the umbilical cord (leave about an inch attached to the pup) and cut the far side with clean scissors, leaving the knot with the puppy. Be careful not to pull on the cord with too much force.

Each puppy should have its own gestation sac, which may emerge with it or shortly thereafter. Avoid allowing the mother to ingest the placentas, since this can cause vomiting.

It is good practice to record each pup’s weight and monitor it closely. Puppies may lose a little weight in the first 24 hours, but should then be gaining at least 5% each day. You can expect their weight to double from birth by 7 to 10 days of age.

Ensure that your mama pet is comfortable and that all the puppies are nursing well. We’d like to see your dog and her puppies within about 24 hours of whelping, when it’s possible to screen for congenital problems and overall health.

Having puppies is a wonderful experience, and thankfully, most whelpings go quite well. It is important, however, to be prepared for any problems that may emerge. Luckily, you don’t need to do it on your own! Our team is available to help you and your dog, before, during, and after the birth of your new puppies.