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Whelping Woodhaven Style

We get a lot of email asking us how we go about whelping puppies. Each breeder has their own way of doing things. This is ours. This is what works best for us.

Planning and preparing for a litter begins long before the female comes into season. BEFORE she is in season and bred, she is checked and cleared for worms, current on her vaccinations and checked to make sure she is in optimal physical condition.

About a month before she is due in season, we change her food to a performance type food with a protein content of 30% and a fat content of 20%. Studies have found that higher conception rates occur, fewer stillborns and more consistent-sized litters are produced from litter to litter on this type of dog food. She is kept on this food through weaning. Then she is put back on her normal maintenance food.

whelpingsheet1.jpg - 24314 BytesFirst off we start by printing up a Whelping Sheet. This sheet records everything about this particular litter.

We start by putting the name of the sire and dam in the top line. Next we figure out when day 57 is (from the first breeding) and put that date on the sheet. Then we put the rest of the dates in until day 66. If the bitch hasn't had the puppies by day 66, then I would have a c-section done anyway.

We start taking the bitch's temperature twice a day on day 57 with a digital thermometer. We increase it to 3 times a day on day 61. Each temperature is recorded in its spot. Its not unheard of that a bitch's temperature will bounce up and down for a few days before it finally stays down. Once my bitch's temperature goes under 99, I know I can expect puppies within 12-24 hours. Any longer than that and a trip to the vet is in order.

We record the time the bitch's water breaks. If puppies haven't arrived by 2 hours after the water breaks, then a trip to the vet is in order.

We also record the time we see the first contraction. If mom hasn't had that puppy within 3 hours of the first contraction, then a trip to the vet is in order.

supplies.jpg - 17923 BytesThe supplies are out within reach well in advance. From left to right we have Iodine to dab on the imbilical cords; scissors for the string; Cotton balls; Vaseline (for the thermometer); thermometer; alcohol; nasal aspirator. In the yellow tray we have dull scissors in case we need to cut the cord; unwaxed dental floss to tie up the cord and a hemostat in case we need to clamp the cord off.

scale.jpg - 12646 BytesWe weigh each puppy as its born. We then weigh again 12 hours later, then every day for the first 2 weeks. After 2 weeks we try and weigh every third day.

This tells us specifically which puppy is gaining weight, which might need to be supplemented or need to spend more time on momma.

We use an postal scale (bought on ebay for less than $10) and a plastic basket velcroed on the top.

yarn.jpg - 12730 Bytes As each puppy is born, we put a different color string of yarn around its neck. This way we can spot individual puppies to track their weight. The yarn is checked daily to make sure its not too tight or too loose.
This is our main puppy whelping box. The floor is a 4 x 4 ft. wood base. The sides are laminated wood shelves cut to size. This makes the sides very easy to clean up. This box is put up in one of our spare bedrooms. This way we're close enough to the puppies to hear if one needs help. whitebox.jpg - 14360 Bytes
pigrail.jpg - 11002 Bytes This is the pigrail we use in the white box to keep the mom from squishing her puppies up against the side of the box. Its made out of 4 inch PVC pipe. Its easy to take out and clean daily and removable when the pups are old enough.
This is our second whelping box which we put in our dining room. This way, when I'm working on the computer mom and pups can be with me. This box has the pigrail built into the side, approx. 4 inches up off the floor.

We use an exercise pen around this box to keep the other dogs from bothering the puppies.

greenbox.jpg - 18270 Bytes
papers.jpg - 12461 Bytes You'll need lots and lots and lots of newspapers while the bitch is whelping and to line the box with after whelping.

puppybox.jpg - 15825 BytesWhen mom has some puppies born and is in active labor with the next one, we keep the newborns out of mom's way in a plasic tub with a heating pad under the clean towels.

By having them in a box close by, mom can feel secure enough to move about to whelp the new pup and the newborns aren't in any danger of being crushed as she moves about the whelping box.

We line both boxes with newspaper, then artifical lambswool over that. This gives the puppies the traction they need to move around. The urine goes through the lambswool to the papers, keeping the material dry on the surface where the puppy is.

To keep the puppy from getting under the lambswool material, the sides of the box lift up and the material is stuffed under the sides. Then the sides are lowered again which keep the material flat on the bottom of the box.

The Whelping