Caring for Pregnant Dogs and Preparing for Birth

What You Need to Do While You're Waiting For the Puppies

pregnant dog in whelping box
Dog in whelping box. Tracy Morgan/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Is your dog pregnant? As the time draws near for her to deliver those puppies (this is called whelping) there are some things you must do to be prepared.

How Should I Prepare For My Dog To Give Birth?

First of all, you should talk to your veterinarian to learn what to expect and what supplies are needed. It is also a good idea to talk to an experienced dog breeder about what is needed.

Helpful whelping supplies to have:

OR, instead of a whelping box, you may opt to set up some simple bedding (not too plush) in an exercise pen -- buy on Amazon

OR, you can make your own whelping kit with the following:

Digital thermometer
Absorbent disposable pads
Disposable exam gloves
Aspiration bulb
Locking hemostats
Surgical scissors with blunt tips (stainless steel)
Hand towels and washcloths
Antiseptic (iodine/betadine)
Rubbing alcohol

  • Also, consider having a dog first aid kit handy.
  • Keep your veterinarian's contact information close by in case you need to call. You may also want the local emergency vet's number in case this all happens in the middle of the night.

How Should I Care For My Dog While She is Pregnant?

While you are waiting for the big day to come, it's important that you take good care of your pregnant dog.

Here are some things to remember:

  • Pregnant dogs need more calories and nutrients while they are pregnant. Is is best to feed your pregnant dog food that has been formulated for growth according to AAFCO requirements. Usually, this means feeding puppy food. By the time she is halfway through her pregnancy, your dog will require roughly twice the calorie intake that she needed before pregnancy.
  • Your dog will need to see the vet a couple of times during her pregnancy. An ultrasound and or blood test can be done as early as 21 days into pregnancy to confirm it. Around 45 days into the pregnancy, your vet can take x-rays to determine the number and size of the pups.
  • In general, your dog will not need any special vitamins or supplements while she is pregnant as long as she is getting the proper diet. Ultimately, your veterinarian will make recommendations based on your dog's individual needs.
  • Your dog should not be vaccinated during her pregnancy.
  • Your dog can still exercise during most of her pregnancy, but should not do any strenuous or stressful activities after 4-6 weeks into the pregnancy. It is best to limit exercise to gentle walks towards the last half of term.
  • Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your dog's health.

NEXT: Whelping - How to Help Your Dog Have Her Puppies