Supporting Your American Cocker Spaniel During Whelping: The Owner’s Role

Welcoming a litter of puppies into the world is an unforgettable moment for any dog owner. As an American Cocker Spaniel owner, the responsibility of overseeing the whelping process can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. From preparing for the arrival of the puppies to providing post-natal care, there are several measures you can take to ensure the health and well-being of the mother and her litter. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the role of the American Cocker Spaniel owner during whelping, including preparing for whelping, assisting with the birthing process, and post-natal care. Whether you’re an experienced breeder or a first-time owner, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools to support the birth of a healthy litter. So, let’s get started!

Preparing for Whelping

Preparing For Whelping
The anticipation of new puppies is an exciting time for any American Cocker Spaniel owner. However, it’s essential to be fully prepared for the whelping process to ensure a smooth delivery and healthy puppies. Preparing for whelping involves knowing what to expect during the birthing process, assembling a whelping kit, and understanding the role you’ll play as an owner during this crucial time. To help you get started, let’s take a closer look at some essential steps to prepare for whelping.

Know the Signs

During the whelping process, it is crucial that American Cocker Spaniel owners are aware of the signs that indicate their dog is about to give birth. Being able to recognize these signs can help ensure that the birthing process goes smoothly and that any potential issues are addressed quickly.

Physical Signs

One of the first signs that a American Cocker Spaniel is about to give birth is a drop in body temperature from 101-102°F to below 100°F. This temperature drop usually means that whelping will occur within the next 24 hours. Checking your dog’s body temperature regularly leading up to the due date can help you to identify this drop.

Another physical sign to watch for is nesting behavior. This can include digging, scratching, and searching for a quiet, secure spot to give birth. Providing a comfortable, warm area for your dog to nest can help ensure that she is able to give birth comfortably.

Behavioral Signs

Changes in behavior such as restlessness, panting, and pacing can also indicate that whelping will soon occur. It’s important to keep an eye on your American Cocker Spaniel’s behavior leading up to the due date and be prepared to assist her during the labor process.

Other behavioral signs that may indicate that your Cocker Spaniel is about to give birth include loss of appetite, vomiting, and excessive drooling.

Physical SignsBehavioral Signs
Drop in body temperature from 101-102°F to below 100°FRestlessness
Nesting behaviorPanting and pacing
Increased vulva size and loosenessLoss of appetite
Contractions and abdominal discomfortVomiting
Discharge of mucus or blood from the vulvaExcessive drooling

Knowing the signs of impending whelping can help American Cocker Spaniel owners be prepared for the birthing process. Having a well-stocked whelping kit on hand and being familiar with the assistance process can make the experience much smoother for both the mother dog and her puppies. For more information on whelping supplies, see our article on “Whelping Supplies.” If you want to learn more about the signs of labor in American Cocker Spaniels, check out our article on “Cocker Spaniel Birth Signs.” And for step-by-step guidance on the helping process, see our article on “The American Cocker Spaniel Whelping Process.”

Assemble a Whelping Kit

Assembling a whelping kit is an essential part of preparing for the birth of your American Cocker Spaniel’s litter. The kit should include all the necessary items to ensure a safe and successful delivery. Here are some of the items that you should include in your whelping kit:

Non-latex glovesFor maintaining hygiene during the delivery process and handling the newborn puppies
ThermometerTo take the mother’s temperature regularly as a drop in temperature is a sign of labor
Nasal aspiratorTo clear out the mucus and amniotic fluid from the newborn puppies’ noses
Iodine or chlorhexidine solutionTo disinfect the umbilical cords of the newborn puppies
ScissorsTo cut the umbilical cords, if needed
Towels and blanketsTo keep the mother and puppies warm and dry during and after delivery
Weighing scaleTo monitor the weight of the newborn puppies to ensure they are growing and thriving
Puppy milk replacerIf the mother is unable to provide enough milk for her puppies, this can be used to supplement their nutrition

It’s important to make sure that all the items in your whelping kit are sterilized and in good condition. Keep the kit close at hand during the delivery process, so that you can quickly and easily access the items you need. Assemble the kit well in advance of the due date so that you are fully prepared when the time comes. By having a well-stocked and prepared whelping kit, you can ensure that you are ready to handle any situation that may arise during the delivery process.

Assisting with Whelping

Assisting With Whelping
As the labor progresses, the role of the American Cocker Spaniel owner becomes even more essential. It’s natural to feel a sense of perplexity during this phase, but with the right preparation and knowledge, assisting with whelping can be a successful and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. Let’s take a look at some ways you can support your dog during this crucial time.

Monitoring the Birthing Process

As an American Cocker Spaniel owner, it is important to monitor your dog during the birthing process to ensure a safe delivery for both the mother and her puppies. Here are some important steps to follow:

  • Observe: Keep a close eye on your dog as she goes through the different stages of labor. This includes the first stage, where she may pant heavily and appear restless, and the second stage, where she will push and give birth to her puppies one by one. Make sure you are present during the entire process to monitor her progress and offer assistance if needed.
  • Time: Time each birth to keep track of the length of each stage of labor. This information can be helpful if you need to contact your veterinarian or if any complications arise. Remember that labor can take several hours or even a full day, so it’s important to be patient and allow your dog to take breaks between puppies.
  • Assist: If your dog is having difficulty giving birth to a puppy, it may be necessary for you to assist. Put on a pair of sterile gloves and gently feel inside the birth canal for any obstructions. If you feel a puppy that is stuck, try to reposition it or gently pull it out. It’s important to be careful not to use excessive force as this can harm both the mother and the puppy.
  • Record: Keep a record of each puppy’s birth, including its weight and gender. This information can be helpful in case any health issues arise later on. Make sure you also keep track of the number of placentas, as leaving one inside the mother can cause infection.
  • Observe the Mother: After the birth of each puppy, observe the mother to make sure she is caring for her puppies properly. If she is neglecting them, you may need to step in and help with feeding and care.

Remember, monitoring the birthing process requires focus, patience, and careful attention to detail. By following these steps, you can help ensure a safe and healthy delivery for your American Cocker Spaniel and her puppies.

Assisting with Difficult Births

Assisting with Difficult Births can be a very stressful and scary experience for American Cocker Spaniel owners. However, with the right tools and information, owners can be better equipped to handle any complications that may arise during whelping.

One of the most important things owners can do is to stay calm and focused during a difficult birth. Panicking can cause the mother to become anxious, which can make the situation even more challenging. If there are any signs of distress, owners should call a veterinarian immediately.

In some cases, owners may need to assist with the birthing process. This can involve helping to remove a trapped puppy or assisting with a breech birth. It is crucial to have a whelping kit ready, which should include items such as sterilized scissors, clean towels, and a suction bulb.

If a puppy is not breathing upon delivery, owners can use gentle stimulation to help stimulate the puppy’s breathing. Rubbing the puppy with a clean towel and administering a few drops of sugar water can also be helpful.

In the table below, we have listed some common difficulties that can arise during whelping and the recommended actions owners should take.

Common DifficultyRecommended Owner Action
Dystocia (difficulty giving birth)Call veterinarian immediately.
Breech Presentation (rear end comes out first)Wrap puppy in warm towel and gently pull to help deliver.
Trapped KittenUsing a clean towel, gently grasp the puppy and pull slowly and firmly in a downward motion.
Weak or Unresponsive PuppiesUse gentle stimulation to encourage breathing. If the puppy does not begin breathing within a minute, contact a veterinarian.

Assisting with difficult births is not something that should be taken lightly. It is always better to err on the side of caution and contact a veterinarian for assistance if there are any concerns. By knowing the signs and having a well-prepared whelping kit, owners can be better equipped to handle any challenges that may arise during the birthing process.

Caring for Newborn Puppies

Caring for newborn puppies is crucial to their survival and growth. It requires a delicate balance of attention, warmth, and nutrition. Here are some tips on how to take care of your American Cocker Spaniel’s newborn puppies:

  • Keep them warm: Newborn puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature, so it’s important to keep them warm. You can use a heating pad, hot water bottle or a heat lamp (taking care not to overheat them) to provide a warm and comfortable environment.
  • Feed them regularly: During the first few weeks, puppies need to be fed every 2-3 hours. Their mother’s milk is the best source of nutrition, as it contains antibodies that boost immunity and promote growth. Make sure you provide a quiet and peaceful environment for the nursing mother and her puppies.
  • Monitor their weight: Weight gain is a good indicator of a puppy’s health and growth. Weigh each puppy regularly using a scale, and make sure they are gaining weight steadily. If a puppy is not gaining weight, it may be a sign of an underlying health condition, and you should consult a veterinarian immediately.
  • Help them eliminate: Puppies cannot urinate or defecate on their own until they are about three weeks old. Before that age, their mother stimulates them to eliminate by licking their genitals. If the mother is unable to do so, you can use a warm, damp cloth or cotton ball to gently stimulate the area after each feeding.
  • Prevent infections: Newborn puppies are vulnerable to infections, so maintain a clean and hygienic environment. Keep the whelping box clean and dry, and clean up any waste immediately to prevent the spread of bacteria. Also, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before handling the puppies.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your American Cocker Spaniel’s newborn puppies receive the attention and care they need to grow and thrive. Remember that caring for newborn puppies requires dedication, patience, and a willingness to take the necessary steps to keep them healthy and happy.

Post-Whelping Care

As the birthing process comes to an end, the true work for the American Cocker Spaniel owner begins. Post-whelping care is a crucial stage, where a lot of effort should be put into ensuring the safety, health, and well-being of the mother and her puppies. From maintaining a clean and safe environment to assessing their health concerns, the post-partum period of the mother can be challenging. In this section, we will discuss some essential steps that a responsible owner should follow to make sure the mother and newborn puppies are receiving the best possible care.

Maintaining a Clean and Safe Environment

Keeping the whelping area clean and safe is crucial for the health and well-being of both the mother and her puppies. Here are some steps that the American Cocker Spaniel owner can take to maintain a clean and safe environment:

1. Regular cleaning: The area where the mother and puppies are housed must be cleaned regularly to remove any potential sources of infection. Use a disinfectant solution to clean the whelping box and any bedding material. Keep in mind that young puppies are vulnerable to chemicals, so make sure to use a pet-friendly disinfectant.

2. Proper ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial to maintain a clean and healthy environment. Ensure that the area where the mother and her puppies are housed has good air circulation. This can be achieved by opening windows or using a fan.

3. Control temperature: The temperature of the whelping area should be maintained at a comfortable level for the mother and her puppies. A temperature around 85°F (29°C) is ideal for newborn puppies. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the whelping area constantly.

4. Use of barriers: Ensure that the whelping area is free from any unnecessary items, such as wires, sharp objects, or cleaning supplies, which can endanger the safety of the puppies. Place barriers around the area to prevent the mother from accidentally stepping on or smothering her puppies.

5. Proper disposal of waste: Dispose of any waste, such as soiled bedding or puppy pads, immediately to prevent the accumulation of bacteria and unpleasant odors.

By following these simple steps, the American Cocker Spaniel owner can maintain a clean and safe environment for the mother and her puppies.

Assessing Health Concerns

As a responsible American Cocker Spaniel owner, it is essential to assess the health concerns of both the mother and the newborn puppies after whelping. Here is a table to help you identify potential health issues and address them accordingly:

Health ConcernsSymptomsTreatment
MastitisLethargy, loss of appetite, swollen, painful mammary glands, feverAntibiotics, warm compress, gentle massage, express milk manually or with a pump
EclampsiaMuscle twitching, fever, restlessness, panting, whining, refusal to eat, convulsionsImmediate emergency veterinary care, medication to increase calcium levels, supplement with calcium and vitamin D
HypoglycemiaDrooling, lethargy, confusion, tremors or seizures, faintingOffer high-calorie puppy food, Karo syrup, or honey, monitor blood sugar levels, consult a veterinarian
ParasitesVisible fleas or ticks, scratching, licking, diarrhea, weight lossAdministration of dewormer medication, proper grooming, and cleaning of the whelping area
Birth defectsCleft palate, limb deformities, respiratory distress, blindness, deafnessConsult with a veterinarian or a specialist, manage symptoms, provide extra care to affected puppies

Remember to monitor the health of the mother and newborn puppies closely, and seek veterinary care if necessary. Additionally, make sure to maintain a clean and safe environment and provide a balanced diet for the nursing mother. By following these guidelines, you can ensure the health and wellbeing of your American Cocker Spaniel and her puppies.

Nutritional Considerations for a Nursing Mother

When it comes to whelping, nutritional considerations for a nursing mother are crucial in helping both the mother and puppies thrive. Here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Choose high-quality food: A nursing mother requires a nutrient-dense diet to keep up with the energy demands of nursing. Choose a high-quality dog food that is designed for lactating mothers.
  • Increase portion sizes: A nursing mother’s portion sizes should be increased to meet additional caloric needs. It’s important to monitor weight gain and adjust portion sizes accordingly.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water: A nursing mother needs to stay hydrated to produce enough milk for her puppies. Keep a fresh bowl of water available at all times.
  • Consider supplements: Some nursing mothers may benefit from additional supplements such as calcium or omega-3 fatty acids. Consult with a veterinarian to determine if any supplements are necessary for your dog.

It’s important to remember that every nursing mother’s needs are different. Be sure to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best nutritional plan for your dog during and after whelping. Proper nutrition not only supports the health and well-being of the mother, but it also supports the development and growth of the puppies.


Wrap Up:
Owning an American Cocker Spaniel comes with great responsibility, including the role of assisting during the whelping process. The owner of the pregnant Cocker Spaniel must be vigilant in recognizing the signs of labor and adequately prepare for the big day.

Preparation is Key:
Assembling a whelping kit and familiarizing oneself with the birthing process is crucial. Additionally, understanding how to care for newborn puppies is paramount to their survival.

Be Prepared for the Unexpected:
Difficult births can occur, and the owner must remain calm and seek veterinary assistance when necessary. Post-whelping care can be just as critical, including assessing any health concerns related to the mother and puppies, ensuring a clean environment, and proper nutrition.

It’s All Worth It:
Overall, the role of the American Cocker Spaniel owner during whelping is essential to ensure the safety and health of both mother and puppies. It takes dedication, patience, and a willingness to learn. However, the joy of seeing healthy puppies grow and thrive under your care makes it all worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs that my American Cocker Spaniel is about to give birth?

Some signs to look for include restlessness, nesting behavior, loss of appetite, decrease in body temperature, and panting or heavy breathing.

What should I include in my American Cocker Spaniel’s whelping kit?

Some important items to include are clean towels or blankets, scissors, dental floss, lubricant, a digital thermometer, a heating pad or lamp, and a suction bulb or pipette.

How long does the birthing process usually take for an American Cocker Spaniel?

The labor and delivery process can last anywhere from a few hours to 24 hours or longer.

What should I do if my American Cocker Spaniel is having difficulty during labor?

If your dog is experiencing difficult labor, contact your veterinarian immediately. They may need to perform a C-section or other medical procedure to ensure the health of the mother and her puppies.

How can I take care of my American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies after birth?

Some important steps to take include ensuring they are warm and dry, helping them nurse if necessary, monitoring their weight gain, and keeping their environment clean and safe.

When can I start socializing my American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies?

You can start exposing the puppies to new experiences and people as early as a few weeks old, as long as you are careful to not overwhelm them.

What are some common health concerns to watch for in newborn American Cocker Spaniel puppies?

Some common concerns include low birth weight, lethargy, difficulty nursing, and infections such as pneumonia.

What kind of diet should I provide for my American Cocker Spaniel during the nursing stage?

You should provide your dog with high-quality puppy food that is rich in protein and nutrients to support both her and her puppies’ needs.

When can I start weaning my American Cocker Spaniel puppies?

You can start the weaning process around 3-4 weeks old by gradually introducing them to soft puppy food mixed with water or puppy formula. However, most puppies will continue to nurse until around 6 weeks old.

Should I be concerned about postpartum depression in my American Cocker Spaniel?

While it is rare, some female dogs may experience postpartum depression. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, lethargy, and neglect of the puppies. If you notice these signs, contact your veterinarian for advice.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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