If you are expecting the pitter-patter of little puppy paws, there are a few things you can do for your mama mutt before and after she gives birth to your precious new additions. Following these steps will help ensure that she stays healthy and happy and that your puppies will grow up strong.

Eating Right

While your mama mutt is pregnant and then while she is nursing, you need to be sure she is eating plenty of high-quality food that provides solid nutrition. While the mama is pregnant, her food consumption will be 1 ½ time the level it was before her pregnancy. By the time she has finished the nursing period, her food consumption may be more than two times her pre-pregnancy consumption. It is important for the food to be of the highest quality in order to keep her healthy, as well as her developing puppies. Never withhold food from your mama mutt. In fact, you might need to increase the number of feedings you provide her with during the day.

Dealing with Behavioral Issues

You might notice some behavioral changes in your mama mutt almost immediately after breeding her. Many become unusually sweet and loving after breeding, needing more attention and affection. Others, however, become irritable. Some even experience morning sickness.

As the pregnancy progresses, the mother-to-be will begin looking for a place to deliver her puppies. During this time, she might also start to become uncomfortable and, as a result, become clingy. When labor begins, she might become nervous as she searches for a birthing location. If she is particularly close to you, she might not want to be left alone during the birthing process. In fact, she may delay delivery until she can be with you.

To deal with your dog’s anxiety, it is important to be patient, loving, and affectionate throughout the pregnancy. Just as with humans, pregnancy can be a very emotional time for your pet and she needs as much reassurance from you as you can provide.

Establishing a Birthing Location

To further help reduce your pet’s anxiety while she is pregnant, you should create a birthing box, also referred to as a whelping box. This box should be large enough for your pet to fit in and move around comfortably. Yet, the sides should be low enough for her to be able to easily see out and for you to reach in and provide assistance during the birthing process if necessary. Be sure to line the bottom of the box with layers of newspaper, which will absorb the birthing fluids. You can remove the top layer of newspapers after delivery in order to keep the area clean for the mama and her new puppies.

After creating the birthing box, set it up in a secluded area in the house. A closet can be a good choice, as is a little-used room. Be sure to show the box to your mama-to-be.

Preparing for Labor

There is a number of signs that a dog is about ready to go into labor. As your pet’s due date approaches, keep a close eye on her to determine when labor is imminent. Most dogs begin panting and acting nervous when labor is near. During the 24 hours prior to labor, many quit eating. If you suspect labor is near, you can take your dog’s rectal temperature. If it is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, you can be sure your mama-to-be will be giving birth within the day.

Keeping the Puppies Safe

After the puppies have been born, you should transfer them to a small, clean box that was prepared ahead of time. This box should be lined with a warm towel, which can be warmed with the microwave oven. You might also place a hot water bottle or heating pad in the box, or have a heat lamp nearby. If you use a heating pad, keep it on the low setting and covered with a towel in order to prevent making the box too warm. Heat is important, but a new puppy may not be able to move away from the heat source if it becomes too hot.

Making the Birthing Box Home

After your mama mutt has given birth to all of the puppies, remove all of the soiled newspapers from the birthing box. Then, line the box with soft bedding and return the puppies to the box.

Seeing the Vet

Within 24 hours after giving birth, you should have a veterinarian examine your new puppies and your mama mutt. At this time, your veterinarian may give your new mama a shot to help make her uterus contract and to encourage milk production. She will likely have bloody vaginal discharge for 3-7 days. If it lasts for longer than this period, be sure to consult your veterinarian.

About Terry Hayes

Tery Hayes, CPDT-KA (Licensed Professional Dog Fitness Instructor) is the author of many books, writes articles for different magazines and also papers including Modern Dog Publication, and has also organized the Dog Talk radio program. He is the board memeber of the Companion Animal Sciences, a certified distance college that supplies certification training courses and also diploma programs of research in professional dog training, behavior consulting, physical fitness as well as nutritional sciences.