“Day 63” is getting nearer, and you need to make sure you have everything you could possibly need in your kit for the imminent whelping.
Most of the time, when you’re expecting a litter of puppies, things will go smoothly, and the items you’ll need in your whelping kit you need to be an effective midwoof will be limited. But I can assure you; it’s a huge relief to have everything you could possibly need at hand so that you’re prepared for all eventualities.
If there is something you don’t have, that will always be the very thing you need!
It’s called sod’s law! Wishing you had invested in something when it is too late is an awful position to be in, so let’s get you whelping ready!
15 Essentials For Your Whelping Kit
There is a ton of confusing information available online, but let’s face it, you can’t beat a good old fashioned list!
I’ve been a dog breeder for 16 years and have spent an awful lot of time both in and out of the whelping box, so let’s check out my 15 must-haves for your whelping kit.
Keeping a regular eye on your dog’s temperature in the lead up to her due date will help you identify when her labour will start. Your dog’s temperature will drop within 24 hours before she begins to go into labour.
Make sure you sterilise the thermometer in between uses.
Whelping can get messy! Surgical gloves are essential if you have to intervene and assist with the birth in any way, and are recommended for handling your newborn pups too.
As a rule of thumb, I recommend wearing gloves when handling your newborn puppies until the umbilical cord has healed up.
As above, this is birth people, it’s going to be messy! Have plenty of clean towels on hand to keep everything as clean and dry as possible.
- Heat source (mat/lamp)
Puppies are unable to regulate their own temperatures, and they can get cold VERY quickly.
Therefore, it’s vital that you have a source of heat, such as a heat lamp or heat mats, to help keep them at a safe temperature. Bear in mind that you may already have the central heating on in the room, but maintaining a steady temperature of around 24-26 degrees is important for the first few days.
- Life Drops or equivalent
Life drops are a type of puppy stimulant that you may need to give a newborn puppy who is failing to thrive. It may be the result of a difficult birth or a C-section that causes a puppy to struggle. This supplement helps to kickstart their system.
Please note, these are not a substitute for veterinary support. If your dog experiences a difficult birth or any of your pups are struggling, please call a vet immediately.
- Milk replacer and bottle or feeding tube
If a puppy is struggling to feed or Mum is refusing to feed or has lactation issues, then you will need to feed a milk replacement either by bottle or tube feeding.
You need to monitor the weight of your pups and keep a record. But you will also need scales to ensure you can administer any supplements and medication at the correct dose for each puppy’s weight.
This will come in handy if any of your litter of pups need help clearing their airways. Birthing fluid can occasionally block a puppies airways and you’ll need to pop on some gloves and help pup to manually clear this fluid out so they can breathe.
- Sterilising Tablets
You’ll need these to sterilise any equipment you use, such as your thermometer, weighing scales and feeding tubes or bottles if you need them.
- Umbilical Clamp
Usually, if all goes to plan, your bitch will chew through the umbilical cord herself. Sometimes a dam can be a little overzealous which can lead to the umbilical cord bleeding and you will need to clamp or tie it.
If mum doesn’t chew through the umbilical cord herself, then you will need to cut it and tie it off. You can use medical scissors for this but make sure they’re sterilised beforehand.
Not getting this right can be incredibly dangerous to the puppy, so get clued up on what to do BEFORE the event.
If you’d like some help then check out our canine pregnancy and whelping course here.
- Liquid Calcium
Calcium can aid contractions during labour. If your dog’s contractions are slowing down or are not as productive as before, then a calcium supplement can help get things going in the right direction.
Popular brands of liquid calcium are Zolcal D or Collocal D, although other brands are available!
- Lubricant (water-based)
You’ll need a water-based lubricant to assist with thermometer insertion and you may need it to assist with whelping if a puppy becomes stuck.
- Notepad & Pen
Keeping notes of the timings of contractions, births and placenta delivery are crucial for monitoring the labour as it proceeds.
Ten minutes can often feel like an hour when you are alone and whelping in the middle of the night. Writing the time and information down can help to give you, and potentially a vet if required, a clear picture of how the labour has progressed.
- Vet Contact Number
In some circumstances, you will need urgent veterinary advice. If your dog has been pushing for more than 20 minutes and nothing is happening, or it’s been more than 2 hours since the last puppy was born then you need to contact your vet immediately.
If her labour goes on for more than 12 hours then you need veterinary assistance.
Learning what’s normal during whelping will help you to know when you need veterinary intervention.
Our canine pregnancy and whelping course will help you understand what to expect when she’s expecting so that you know exactly when you need outside help.
This should probably be number 1 on the list! Breeding, whelping and raising puppies is an incredible and rewarding experience, but it’s also EXHAUSTING!
Get stocked up on caffeine and quick high energy snacks to keep your energy levels up.
So there you have it, that is the all-important list. Some of it you may already have in your home; if not, it’s all available to buy online, so get ordering!
If you can, have someone on standby to help when your dog goes into labour. If you need to call for vet support or have a challenging birthing experience, then you will be very grateful for an extra pair of hands. Not to mention the emotional support.
Pop over and join our FREE Facebook group for UK dog breeders and connect with a network of wonderful breeders who will be happy to support you on your journey.
Good luck with the whelping, and enjoy those wonderful bundles of joy!
If you are worried about how you will know when she is going into labour or what to do if things start to go wrong, there is heaps of information in our Canine Pregnancy & Whelping Course.
Get instant access to our Whelping Troubleshooting Flow Charts, video tutorials on the stages of labour, tube feeding and how to revive a newborn puppy in trouble.
You will be setting your dog and her puppies up for the absolute best experience possible for them, and you’ll feel confident every step of the way.
It’s the average cost of an emergency vet call out, and you’ll feel prepared for any surprises your dog (or her babies) throw at you.