wikiHow to Deal with a Dog Pregnancy

Three Methods:Preparing for the BirthHelping with the BirthCaring for the Puppies

When you find out that your dog is pregnant, you're happy— but what are you going to do when the puppies arrive and you don't know a thing about dog birth? This article will tell you everything you need to know, from the highs to the lows of dog pregnancy and birth.

Method 1
Preparing for the Birth

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    Start planning ahead right away to find the date that the pups' arrival is due. Remember that not all dogs are the same, so this will be different depending on the breed and characteristics of your dog.
    • The average time it takes for a dog to make puppies is 63 days from the time of mating. Once you have calculated this, you will be able to tell when she will give birth and make all of your plans from there.
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    • Dogs can sometimes have pups 5 days before or after the date expected, but if it gets any longer than 5 days after contact a vet.
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    • If your dog has had a scan and it says she is pregnant but she does not look it it may be she has absorbed the puppies after the scan. Dogs can sometimes absorb puppies when they are sad or depressed. It could also be that the scan in wrong as it is not 100% accurate all the time, for instance some people thought that their dog would have only 3 puppies when they have close to 11! It can be very confusing especially if you thought they were pregnant in the first place, but scans are not as accurate as they seem. You can also have an X-ray done at a skilled vet centre but again these can be not that accurate.
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  2. 2
    Make sure you take extra care of your dog. She is going through lots of hormonal changes and may need your affection. At other times however, she may want to be left alone, and it is best if you do just that, you don't want to upset her or cause her harm.
    • She may go through morning sickness, a common occurrence in dogs, but this should wear off halfway through the pregnancy. She will also begin to show on the outside, for example her nipples may start to grow and turn pinker and she may begin to lose her waistline.
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    • These signs are all a stronger indication that your dog is pregnant and that things are going to work out but to be sure you can get an ultrasound scan or a x-ray from your vet to confirm that she really is pregnant. However, do not worry if your dog does not experience some of the symptoms of pregnancy, some owners do not know their dog is pregnant until the day of arrival!
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    Prepare a whelping box, the place where your dog will have the puppies. You can make a whelping box out of cardboard, it should be big enough for your dog to fit two of herself inside and for her to get in and out easily while the puppies can not.

    • The whelping box can be made by yourself or you can buy one off the Internet. Making your whelping box is good because it saves money, but on the other hand the boxes are sturdier when you buy them.
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    • It is a good idea to put a heat pad set on 'low' underneath some blankets so that the puppies can be warm when in the whelping box and feed off their mother.
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    Get other birthing equipment ready. You will a thermometer for taking your dogs temperature, powdered milk substitute, a pair of sterilised scissors and some dental floss, a baby bottle, some examination gloves and some weighing scales for weighing the puppies. You should also keep a notepad handy to record times of birth and weight.

Method 2
Helping with the Birth

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    Get your dog in her whelping box when the time for birth comes. If she chooses somewhere else (a closet, the garden), lead her to the whelping box as you do not want to go into labour there.
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    Monitor the labour and help as needed. When she goes into labour she will pant heavily and start to push but it is only when the first water breaks will she give birth to the first puppy. She will then tear the sack with her tongue and lick up the excess but if you see the puppy is not breathing you can tear the sack from around the nose and mouth until the puppy starts to breathe.
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    Take care of the puppies right away if needed. If she has too many puppies and not enough nipples or one puppy cannot get through, drastic action is needed, You must hand rear and feed this puppy from birth, this needs doing every two hours by a responsible adult.
    • No children below the age of 12 should hold the puppies before their eyes have opened, as puppies can be fragile. Children, who do not know how to handle them with care, can easily snap the neck of a newborn puppy if they are holding them too tight.
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    Keep the mother and puppies together. The mother should stay in the whelping box for 5 days before leaving her puppies for a short while.

Method 3
Caring for the Puppies

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    Keep an eye on their development. The puppies should open their eyes at about two weeks of age. However this, of course, depends on the breed of your dog and puppies, some puppies eyes can open as late as three weeks from birth. Obviously the larger the litter the smaller the pups will be, and in some litters you will get a runt. In nature the runt would be left to die but luckily humans can hand feed puppies using bottles of formula milk for puppies.
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    Wean the puppies when it's time. When the mother starts to stand up to feed the puppies you will know it is time to wean them off milk and onto solid foods that they can digest easily. Start by mushing up solid food into puppy milk and progress from there until the pups can eat solid food all by themselves.
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    Prepare for adoption or the other next steps. One of the worst parts of having puppies is unfortunately, having to let them go. Puppies are ready to leave their mother at a very young age, 8-9 weeks. Finding homes for all the puppies is a tough job and an art in itself and can be made even worse if the puppies are crossbreeds as lots of people prefer pedigrees to crossbreeds.
    • One of the hardest parts is letting them go yourself. Puppies can often form an emotional bond with humans, especially in first time breeders and families, although some breeders have no difficulty giving away puppies. You may want to keep them all but they deserve homes with loving families who will care for them. In the end the puppies will have gone and your bitch will be able to rest, without having any pups to look after!


  • A good tip is to buy about 12 coloured collars for the puppies arrival to tell the pups apart. It is important that you do not keep the mothers collar on during birth, puppies can get caught in it so it is best if you keep it off.
  • When hand rearing your pups be sure not to over feed them. When they reach 3 weeks of age you should reduce their feeding time to 4 hours until they can be weaned off milk and onto solid foods. You should let them smell new food before eating it as they can be unsure.
  • Do not let the puppies eat chocolates. As much as we love them, they are poisonous to dogs and puppies


  • If the mother has been showing signs of labour, pushing but no puppies are coming out for a few hours, call a vet. You should also call a vet if it is past five days after the puppies are due and the mother has shown no sign of being in labour. Both of these can be very worrying and it is likely the mother will have to have a c-section.
  • A popular misconception in dogs is what is called a phantom pregnancy, a bitch who acts pregnant and displays symptoms of being pregnant. This usually occurs 4-6 weeks after the bitch was in heat and continues until the nine weeks pass, when the dog will return to normal. This can be very confusing for both the bitch and the owner as each will think that she is pregnant and begin preparing. She can become very over protective of one toy. She may also begin to nest and produce milk, although she has no pups to feed. A scan is the best way to determine if she really is pregnant although if she has mated you should have a very strong indication she is. This is definitely something to look out for.

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Categories: Canine Health