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Raven will have her puppies in less than one week and the questions remains: What supplies do you need before your dog has a litter of puppies? Do you have a whelping checklist?
My mother was a huge fan of checklists when we were kids.
As a know-it-all youngster I always thought I could keep everything well organized in my head, but now that I’m older, wiser, and…ehhmm…more forgetful…I find a ton of value in the “checklist”.
Today, we’re going to put together our whelping checklist so we can be sure we don’t forget any of the important supplies needed when whelping a litter of puppies.
*We are not veterinarians. All of the information in this article is based on our experiences. If your dog is having puppies then please consult a veterinarian for professional advice.
What Supplies Do You Need Before Your Dog Has A Litter Of Puppies?
This time last year I was running around like a chicken with his head cut off trying to figure out what supplies I needed before Raven had her puppies.
Fortunately, this year I’m more like a bear covered with honey being chased by a swarm of bees. 🙂
Quick Tip: This time last year we weren’t sure what we needed for whelping puppies. We researched the internet and found this basic whelping kit on Amazon that worked out really well with Raven’s first litter of puppies. However, read on because you need more before whelping your first litter of pups.
I like to think I learned a thing or two since Raven’s first litter.
I didn’t have a whelping checklist for litter number one.
Instead I researched the internet, watched YouTube videos, chatted with breeders, and hoped I had all the information I’d need to help Raven deliver her first pups.
Lucky for us everything went flawlessly! 🙂
This time around I’m putting together a whelping checklist to make sure I don’t forget anything from last years successful whelping and include anything new I learned for this years litter of Golden puppies.
Okay guys and gals. If you like lists then you’ll love todays whelping checklist!
The Essential Items
Our must have whelping kit items.
- Whelping Box – We went online to find a whelping box, but we didn’t really like the price or quality of products we came across. We (meaning Ali’s Dad) ended up building our own whelping box. Update: Our friends really like and recommended the Fab System Whelping Box. This is a product I’m considering when our DIY whelping box starts to wear down.
- Whelping Mat – You could just use blankets or towels, but we really like the EZwhelp Washable Whelping & Puppy Pad we got from Amazon. We liked it so much we bought a second one recently to make the cleaning process easier.
- Digital Thermometer – Start taking mama’s temperature 10-14 days before her expected due date. When temperature drops to 98-99 degrees get ready for puppies (usually within 24 hrs from what we’ve read) – we have this simple Digger Dog digital thermometer .
- Heat Lamp – Newborn puppies cannot regulate their body temperature. Last year Raven stayed with her pups and they cuddled up to her for warmth, but we also got a heat lamp to help keep our pups warm. We like the heat lamps with the clamp and attach our lamps to the edge of our whelping box. As I mentioned newborns cannot regulate their heat so you also want to make sure they can get away if they’re too hot.
- Puppy (Baby) Scale – You want to make sure your puppies are gaining weight. We weigh our puppies every day starting from day 1. We purchased and really like this Puppy/Baby Scale from Amazon. After the litter of puppies we used it for our newborn daughter 🙂
- Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer – To monitor the temperature of the whelping box.
Optional: We have a portable air conditioning/heating unit in the puppy room to allow us to better control the temperature of the room. As mentioned earlier, puppies cannot control their body temperature and we want to make sure our puppy room is not too hot nor too cold.
Help The Whelp
Our vet and breeding friends advised that we (the humans) help in a few areas when whelping a litter of puppies.
- Head Lamp – One of the things we did not use as we had ample light since we whelped our first puppy in the late morning (around 10am) and finished in the early afternoon (around 2pm). However, a headlamp will allow you both your hands to be free while shining a nice light in all the little nooks and crannies.
- Aspiration Bulb – Use to suction the pup’s mouth, nose, and throat. We used to help clear out the airways to help our pup’s start breathing.
- Hemostat – Use to clamp the umbilical cord. We kept ours clamped for several minutes after cutting the cord to allow the blood to clot/stop bleeding.
- Medical Scissors – Use to cut the umbilical cord.
- Unwaxed Dental Floss – Use to tie off the umbilical cord.
- Tail Wrap – for dogs tails to protect from draining fluids. We did not use with Raven’s first litter, but it’s included in the basic whelping kit which I’d recommend you purchase if this is your first time whelping a litter of puppies.
- Vaseline – for taking a rectal temperature and in case one of the puppies gets stuck.
Keeping Things Clean
Overall our whelping area got pretty messy, but having these items will help to keep your pup, mama, and the whelping box a little bit tidier.
By the way, you may want to wear some clothes that you don’t mind getting a little messy…
- Antibacterial Hand Wipes – Clean, clean clean. We’re always trying to keep ourselves and our area clean.
- Alcohol Prep Pads – On the theme of keeping clean, use these to clean off the hemostat and scissors after each use.
- Iodine Prep Pads – Use on the cut umbilical cords to keep the area as clean as possible.
- Receiving Cloths – Use to grip and dry each puppy.
- Pee Pads – We used the large pee pads to put under mom to catch afterbirth to try and keep our whelping area as clean as possible during the whelping.
- Paper Towels – To keep your whelping box area as clean as possible.
- Hand Sanitizer – Try to keep yourself as sanitary as possible. We used hand sanitizer not only during the whelping, but the entire 8 weeks we had the litter at our house.
- Exam Gloves – We used a different pair of gloves with each puppy again to try and keep things as clean as possible.
- Garbage bag/can – Last year we just had the garbage bag. This year I’m going to have the bag and can just outside the whelping box for easy disposal 🙂
There was a little variation in color in Raven’s litter, but it was still very difficult to tell the puppies apart.
While there is also some variation in size I’m sure it will still be difficult to identify one puppy from the other without…
- Beard Trimmer – When Raven had her first litter their were some small differences in size and shade of color, but overall it was tough to tell the newborn pups apart. When each pup was born we shaved an area to identify each puppy. For example, left shoulder, right shoulder, left hip, right hip, etc. We’ve also heard you can use nail polish to mark the puppies. We have an inexpensive battery powered beard trimmer similar to this one
- Puppy Collars – Not your regular nylon buckle puppy collars. You’ll need something much smaller for your newborn pups. We really like these Velcro Puppy ID bands from Amazon.
Forms & Documents
You’ll want to have some paperwork to document the mama’s temperature to help predict the arrival of the puppies as well as document each puppy as he/she is born.
- Temperature Plotting Sheet – Tracking Mama’s temperature 3 times a day will help you predict when the puppies will arrive.
- Birth Documentation Chart – When each of Raven’s puppies were born we documented them individually. Shave mark, color collar, distinguishing features, time of birth, etc.
- Puppy Weight Chart – We track our puppies weights daily to make sure their gaining each day. Having a handy chart next to your puppy scale or whelping box makes it easy to do this on a daily basis.
- Vet and Emergency Vet Phone #’s – Keep important phone numbers handy including your vet, emergency vet, and friends or family to help. It’s a good idea to have them written down (as well as programmed in your phone) just in case someone else helping can make the call.
Most of these documents come in the Basic Whelping Kit for Puppies.
A Few Notes About Whelping A Litter Of Puppies
Last year I chatted with a few breeders, my veterinarian, and a couple other folks who’ve whelped puppies.
Here’s their advice:
- It’s okay for mama to eat the placenta, but don’t let her have more than 2-3. She could end up with an upset stomach and diarrhea. For the record Raven ate 3 last time without issue.
- Don’t let mama chew through the umbilical cord. She can sometimes chew it down too far which can cause issues. Instead crimp the umbilical with the hemostat and make the cut with your scissors then tie off the cords with your unwaxed dental floss.
- Use your aspiration bulb to clean out the airways – mouth, nose, and throat.
- Use disposable cloth to quickly dry each puppy, make sure he’s breathing then let mama do the rest of the cleaning.
- If mama is pushing for more than a half hour without anything happening then contact your veterinarian.
I was completely and totally stressed before Raven’s first litter.
After she delivered 6 beautiful puppies I realized she really didn’t need me there at all.
Dogs are perfectly capable of handling the entire whelping process on their own.
Update: I wrote most of this blog post last week and Raven’s puppies ended up coming early. Two notes I’d like to add:
- Number 1: As I mentioned dogs are totally capable of whelping on their own. This was proven when I woke up early morning and Raven already whelped puppies on her own. We rushed her and her newborns to the whelping box where the rest of her puppies were delivered.
- Number 2: Be prepared with all of your whelping supplies well in advance. I was lucky and had most of my supplies from Raven’s first litter and got all the extras before the puppies arrived. Puppies can come early! Make sure you have all you need weeks before the due date.
Of course things can go wrong and that’s when it’s good to have your veterinarian’s (or if it’s after hours your emergency vet) phone number handy.
I have both numbers programmed into my phone and written down on my “Emergency Phone Numbers” document.
If there’s one thing I learned it’s stress and anxiety is not good for me, my dogs, nor the puppies.
So, to ease the anxiety, be prepared by making sure you have everything you need on your whelping checklist. Then, let nature take her course.
Puppies coming soon!
I can’t wait!
There’s a lot on our whelping checklist.
If this is your first litter then I highly recommend you first check out the Basic Whelping Kit for Puppies.
What about you guys? Am I missing anything?
If so, tell me what you have in your whelping kit in the comment section below.
UPDATE: I was recently asked when we start to wean our puppies and what do we feed them. We have a whole series on raising our Golden Retriever puppies from 0-8 weeks old.
However, so you don’t have to go sifting through another 8 blog posts we wean at around 4 weeks and start the puppies on Wellness Core Puppy Formula mixed with warm water for about 10 minutes…basically puppy mush. 🙂