Common Challenges During Whelping: How to Address Them for American Cocker Spaniels

Bringing new life into the world can be a joyous experience, but it is not without its challenges. When it comes to whelping, there are several obstacles that can arise throughout the process. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to be fully prepared for any potential difficulties that may occur. This article will provide step-by-step guidance on how to address common challenges during whelping, including difficult labor, retained placenta, mastitis, low milk production, and rejected puppies. We will also cover how to care for newborn puppies, including ways to keep them warm and clean, ensure proper nutrition, monitor for health issues, and socialize them. Let’s get started!

Preparing for Whelping

Preparing For Whelping
Preparing for the birth of your dog’s litter can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience for any dog owner. As the due date approaches, it’s important to ensure that you have everything you need to make the whelping process as comfortable and stress-free as possible for both your dog and yourself. Providing proper nutrition, creating a comfortable whelping area, and familiarizing yourself with the signs of labor are all key steps in preparation. To make sure you have all the necessary items for whelping, check out our whelping kit essentials guide. Let’s dive deeper into how to prepare for the big day.

Ensuring Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is vital to ensure a successful whelping process for your dog. A well-balanced diet helps to promote healthy puppies and can also support your dog’s physical and mental health. It’s essential to ensure that your dog gets enough nutrition before, during, and after whelping.

During Pregnancy: It’s important to provide your dog with a high-quality dog food that is specifically designed for pregnant or nursing dogs. These types of dog food contain additional calories and nutrients that are necessary to support the growth and development of puppies. You can also add more protein sources, such as boiled chicken or beef, as well as vitamin and mineral supplements, after consulting with your vet.

During Whelping: Your dog’s appetite may decrease during the whelping process, but it’s still essential to provide her with enough food and water. You can offer small, frequent meals so that your dog can take a break to eat between deliveries. Additionally, providing enough water is crucial for hydration and milk production.

Post-Whelp: After whelping, your dog’s diet should include a special formula that is specifically designed for nursing mothers. The formula should contain essential nutrients and minerals that support milk production and the overall health of the puppies. On top of that, it is again important to provide lots of water to ensure enough hydration.

No matter what stage of the whelping process your dog is in, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to ensure that you are providing the appropriate nutrition. A vet can recommend the best dog food for your dog’s specific needs and make suggestions for supplements.

By ensuring the appropriate nutrition, you can help promote a healthy whelping process and healthy puppies. A high-quality diet is also necessary for the overall physical and emotional well-being of your dog. Remember, a happy mother means happy and healthy puppies.

To learn more about preparing for whelping, read our article on creating a comfortable whelping area, and the stages of dog labor and expectations. If you are experiencing any challenges during whelping, it’s important to seek guidance from your veterinarian. You can read more about what to expect when consulting a vet during whelping in our article on Whelping Vet. Also, be prepared to offer assistance during the process of dog birth. To learn how to do it properly, read our article on dog birth assistance. Finally, once the puppies are born, it’s crucial to care for them properly. Our article on newborn cocker spaniel care provides tips on caring for your newborn puppies.

Creating a Comfortable Whelping Area

When preparing for whelping, one of the most important things you can do is to create a comfortable and safe space for the mother and her puppies. Here are some key considerations for creating a whelping area that will promote relaxation and reduce stress:

  • Location: Choose a quiet and private area of your home that is free from drafts and disturbances.
  • Size: The whelping box should be large enough to accommodate the mother dog and her puppies comfortably. Typically, a 4ft x 4ft space is sufficient for a medium-sized dog.
  • Bedding: Use soft, clean bedding such as towels or blankets. Avoid using anything with loops or threads that could pose a choking hazard to the puppies.
  • Temperature: Keep the whelping area warm, around 80-85°F, using heat lamps, heating pads, or hot water bottles. A thermometer can help you monitor the temperature.
  • Lighting: Use dim lighting or a red bulb to provide a calming environment.
  • Cleanliness: Keep the whelping area clean at all times to reduce the risk of infection. Replace soiled bedding as needed and use a mild disinfectant to clean the area daily.

Creating a comfortable whelping area is essential for ensuring the health and wellbeing of both the mother dog and her puppies. By following these guidelines, you can help create a stress-free environment that will promote relaxation and encourage healthy development in the puppies.

Understanding the Signs of Labor

One of the most important things to be aware of when preparing for whelping is understanding the signs that labor is about to begin. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Nesting: About a week before delivery, your dog may start to search for a quiet and comfortable spot to whelp. This is known as nesting behavior.
  • Drop in body temperature: Your dog’s normal temperature is about 101-102.5°F. About 24 hours before whelping, this temperature may drop to 97-99°F.
  • Restlessness: This may be caused by the discomfort of contractions and uterine pressure.
  • Loss of appetite: As the delivery approaches, the dog may become less interested in food. This is normal and nothing to worry about as long as the dog is drinking water regularly.
  • Swollen vulva: The vulva will be swollen and may have a discharge before and during the whelping process.
  • Mild contractions: Several hours before active labor, the dog may have mild contractions. You may notice the abdomen getting tighter and then relaxing.
  • Water breaking: The amniotic sac may rupture, causing fluid to be released from the area around the vulva.
  • Stronger contractions: Active labor begins with strong contractions that may become more frequent and lead to the delivery of a puppy.

It’s important to monitor your dog closely during the labor process and seek veterinary assistance if you have any concerns. Remember that every dog and every whelping experience is different, so it’s always best to be prepared for any surprises that may come along.

Common Challenges During Whelping

Common Challenges During Whelping
Whelping, the act of a dog giving birth, is a natural process, but it can come with its fair share of challenges. While some whelpings may go smoothly, others may present certain complications that require prompt attention. These challenges can range from difficult labor to low milk production and even rejected puppies. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to recognize these challenges and be prepared to handle them effectively. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common challenges that may arise during whelping, and what you can do to address them.

Difficult Labor

Difficult labor, also known as dystocia, can occur when the mother dog is unable to give birth naturally. This can happen due to a variety of reasons, including abnormal positioning of the puppy, a large puppy size, or insufficient uterine contractions. If left untreated, difficult labor can lead to serious health complications for both the mother and her puppies, including infection, hemorrhage, or even death.

When faced with difficult labor, it’s important to stay calm and take immediate action to assist the mother dog. The first step is to assess the situation and determine the cause of the difficulty. This may involve performing a physical exam to check the mother’s cervix and observing the frequency and intensity of her contractions.

If the mother dog is in distress and not making progress, it may be necessary to intervene and assist with the delivery. This can involve gently pulling the puppy out of the birth canal, but it’s important to do so carefully to avoid causing injury. If the puppy is too large to pass through the birth canal or is in an abnormal position, a cesarean section may be necessary.

It’s important to note that attempting to assist with a difficult labor without proper training and experience can be dangerous and even deadly for the mother and puppies. Always consult with a veterinarian if you suspect difficult labor.

In addition to professional assistance, there are several steps that can be taken to prevent difficult labor from occurring in the first place. Feeding the mother a balanced and nutritious diet, maintaining regular exercise, and providing a comfortable and stress-free whelping area are all important factors in promoting a healthy and safe delivery.

Causes of Difficult LaborSigns of Distress in Mother DogWhen to Seek Veterinary Assistance
Abnormal Positioning of PuppyRestlessness, Whining, Lack of Progress during LaborIf Labor Lasts Longer than 4 Hours or Mother Dog Appears in Severe Pain or Distress
Large Puppy SizeExcessive Panting, Weakness, Refusal to Eat or DrinkIf Mother Dog is Unable to Deliver the First Puppy within 30 Minutes of Active Labor
Insufficient Uterine ContractionsLack of Progress in Labor, Frequent Pausing during ContractionsIf Mother Dog Appears Exhausted or is Unable to Push

Difficult labor can be a serious and potentially life-threatening situation for both the mother and her puppies. By staying vigilant and seeking professional help when necessary, however, it’s possible to promote a safe and successful delivery.

Retained Placenta

During whelping, some dogs may experience a retained placenta, which is when the placenta remains inside the mother’s uterus after the birth of a puppy. This can lead to serious complications, such as infection and hemorrhage, if not addressed promptly.


There are several factors that can contribute to retained placenta in dogs, including:

Anesthesia complicationsTraumatic delivery
Existing uterine infectionsHormonal imbalances
MalnutritionGenetic predisposition


Some common symptoms of retained placenta in dogs include:

  • Failure to expel the placenta after 30 minutes of giving birth to a puppy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vaginal discharge with a foul odor
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain


If your dog is experiencing a retained placenta, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately. Your veterinarian may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

  • Manual removal: In some cases, the retained placenta may be manually removed by a veterinarian.
  • Medication: Your veterinarian may prescribe medication to stimulate uterine contractions and help expel the placenta.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the retained placenta and prevent further complications.


While there is no guaranteed way to prevent retained placenta, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk:

Proper nutrition:Ensure that your dog is receiving a balanced diet that meets her nutritional needs during pregnancy.
Regular veterinary checkups:Attend regular checkups with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s health throughout her pregnancy.
Avoidance of stress:Avoid stressful situations for your dog, as stress can interfere with proper uterine contractions during labor.

Retained placenta can be a serious complication during whelping. It is important to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available, as well as take preventative measures to reduce the risk. If you suspect your dog may be experiencing a retained placenta, seek veterinary care immediately to ensure the best possible outcome for both your dog and her puppies.


Mastitis is a common infection that lactating dogs may experience during whelping. This infection occurs when the mammary glands become inflamed, leading to tenderness, pain, and swelling. It affects both nursing mothers and newborns, as the puppies are unable to feed properly due to their mother’s discomfort. Here are some symptoms to watch out for:

  • Swollen, red or painful mammary glands
  • Fever and lethargy
  • Decreased milk production
  • Loss of appetite

If you suspect that your dog has mastitis, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately. Left untreated, it can lead to more severe complications, such as abscesses and even sepsis. Your veterinarian may suggest a course of antibiotics and pain relief medication to help alleviate the symptoms.

It is important to note that some mastitis cases may be caused by poor hygiene or improper nursing techniques. Ensure that the whelping area is kept clean and dry, and that the puppies are nursing properly. Avoid using products on the mother’s nipples, such as creams or ointments, as they can promote bacterial growth. If a puppy is struggling to latch on properly, try repositioning them or asking your veterinarian for assistance.

Preventing mastitis is the best course of action. Encourage proper hygiene and cleanliness to prevent bacterial growth, and utilize proper nursing techniques. Be sure to monitor the mother’s behavior and physical condition during whelping, and seek veterinary care if any concerning symptoms arise. With proper precautions and care, mastitis can be avoided during the whelping process.

Low Milk Production

One of the most common challenges during whelping is low milk production, which can lead to malnourished puppies. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as stress, illness, or inadequate nutrition in the mother. Here are some steps you can take to address this issue:

  • Consult with your veterinarian: If you notice that your dog is not producing enough milk, it is important to talk to your veterinarian. They can help you to identify the underlying cause of the problem, and recommend appropriate treatment options.
  • Take steps to reduce stress: Stress can be a major factor in low milk production, so it is important to create a calm and quiet environment for your dog to raise her puppies. Make sure she has a comfortable and secure whelping area, with access to food and water at all times to help reduce stress.
  • Increase your dog’s nutritional intake: A well-balanced diet for your dog can help to increase her milk supply. You may need to supplement her diet with high-quality foods that are rich in protein and calcium. Additionally, make sure she is getting enough fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Consider herbal remedies: Some natural remedies can help increase milk production. Fenugreek, for example, is an herb that is believed to increase milk production in nursing mothers. Always consult your veterinarian before giving your dog any new supplements.

Remember, the key to addressing low milk production is to identify the underlying cause of the problem and take appropriate steps to address it. With proper care and attention, you can ensure that your puppies are getting the nutrition they need to grow and thrive.

Rejected Puppies

One of the common challenges during whelping is when a mother dog rejects one or more of her puppies. This can happen for a variety of reasons and can be a very distressing situation for both the puppies and the owner. Rejection can occur immediately after birth or a few days later.

Possible reasons for puppy rejection include the mother’s instinctual behavior if she senses that a puppy is sick or weak, or if she perceives a threat to the rest of her litter. It can also happen due to a lack of maternal instinct or the mother being too young or inexperienced. Another reason for puppy rejection is a poor match between the mother and puppy scents.

Recognizing Rejected Puppies
It’s important to recognize whether a puppy has been rejected so that you can quickly take action to help it. Signs of rejection include the mother ignoring, growling at, or even attacking the puppy. The puppy may also appear weak, undernourished or cold, as it will not have access to the warmth and nutrition provided by the mother.

How to Help Rejected Puppies
If you notice that a puppy has been rejected, it’s important to intervene as soon as possible. The rejected puppy can be taken away from the mother dog and bottle-fed or hand-fed with formula. It’s important to keep the puppy warm and clean, and to monitor its health closely as it may be at a higher risk for health issues.

Another method to help rejected puppies is to try to reintroduce them to the mother. Rubbing the puppy with her littermates to transfer their scent, and then reintroducing the puppy to the mother may help her accept it. However, this approach should be done with caution and under veterinary supervision, as it may not always be successful and the mother could still reject the puppy.

If the mother dog continues to reject the puppy, it’s important to provide the necessary care or find a new mother dog to “adopt” the rejected puppy. It’s also essential to understand that sometimes a mother dog may not have sufficient maternal instinct or capacity to care for all of her puppies, and provisions should be made to ensure the well-being of every puppy.

Addressing rejected puppies requires quick action and patience. Although this can be a stressful situation, with proper care and attention, you can help the rejected puppy thrive and grow into a healthy adult dog.

Recognizing Rejected PuppiesHow to Help Rejected Puppies
The mother ignores the puppy

The mother growls at or attacks the puppy

The puppy appears weak or undernourished, or is not gaining weight
Hand feeding or bottle feeding with formula

Keeping the puppy warm and clean

Monitoring the puppy’s health closely

Trying to reintroduce the puppy to the mother, or finding a new mother dog to adopt the puppy

How to Address Whelping Challenges

How To Address Whelping Challenges
As much as pet owners prepare for whelping, challenges may still arise during the process. Difficult labor, retained placenta, mastitis, low milk production, and rejected puppies are some of the common challenges that dog breeders may face. However, addressing these challenges can lead to a successful whelping process and healthy puppies. In this section, we will discuss practical steps to address whelping challenges and ensure the well-being of your furry babies.

Talking to Your Veterinarian

It is important to consult your veterinarian if you encounter any complications during the whelping process. Veterinary care is crucial to ensure the well-being of both the mother and puppies. Here are some steps to take when talking to your veterinarian:

  • Describe the Symptoms: Be as detailed as possible when explaining the symptoms. This will help your veterinarian to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.
  • Discuss Treatment Options: Your veterinarian will recommend the best course of action for the health of the mother and puppies. Discuss the pros and cons of each treatment option and decide on the best plan of action.
  • Ask Questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions or express concerns. Your veterinarian is there to help you and is happy to answer any questions you may have.
  • Follow-up: After diagnosis and treatment, schedule a follow-up appointment to ensure the mother and puppies are healthy and recovering well.
  • Prevention: Talk to your veterinarian about preventative measures to avoid future complications during whelping.

When it comes to the health of your pets, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian if you have any concerns during the whelping process. Veterinary care can make all the difference in the health and well-being of your pets.

Assisting Difficult Labor

Assisting a dog during difficult labor can be a stressful and daunting experience for any pet owner. Here are some steps you can take to help your dog during a difficult birth:

  • Stay calm: it’s important to remain calm to avoid stressing your dog even further.
  • Timing: if your dog has been actively pushing for more than 30 minutes without a puppy being born, contact your veterinarian for further guidance.
  • Positioning: help your dog find a comfortable position to rest, preferably on her side or in a standing position. This allows for better blood flow and can assist with the birthing process.
  • Gentle massage: massaging your dog’s belly in a circular motion can help relieve some of the discomfort and sensation of contractions.
  • Assist with delivery: if a puppy appears to be stuck during delivery, gently grasp the puppy with a towel and guide it out. Be gentle and avoid pulling too hard, as this can cause injury to the puppy or the mother. If you are unable to remove the puppy, contact your veterinarian for further assistance.

It’s important to note that in some cases, difficult labor can result in the need for a cesarean section. If your dog is experiencing difficulty giving birth, it’s essential to contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance and support. By being aware of the signs of difficult birth and having a plan in place, you can help ensure a safe and successful delivery for both your dog and her puppies.

Retained Placenta Removal

One of the potential challenges during whelping is when the mother dog fails to expel the placenta after giving birth. This condition is known as “retained placenta.” It is essential to address this challenge to prevent infections and other possible complications.

Symptoms of a Retained Placenta

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the vulva

Removing the Retained Placenta
If the placenta is not expelled within 30 minutes of giving birth or if the mother displays any of the above symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible. Your vet will likely perform a physical examination and possibly recommend an ultrasound to ensure no remaining afterbirth is left inside. If the vet confirms a retained placenta, they may recommend an injection of oxytocin, which helps the uterus to contract and expel the placenta. In severe cases, they may recommend manual removal or surgery to prevent any further infections.

Preventing a Retained Placenta
While it’s impossible to prevent a retained placenta in all cases, certain steps can help minimize the risk. Feeding your dog a high-quality diet to help ensure proper nutrition aids in tissue repair and hormonal balance. Allowing your dog to exercise daily during gestation can help keep the muscles toned, leading to a more natural delivery. Lastly, ensuring a clean whelping area and proper hygiene can reduce the risk of infection.

It’s important to monitor both the mother and puppies closely following a retained placenta. There is an increased risk of infections, so ensuring that both parties are clean and healthy is crucial. If you notice any concerning behaviors or symptoms, do not hesitate to contact your vet immediately.

Treating Mastitis

Mastitis is a common condition where the mammary glands become inflamed, usually as a result of bacterial infection. This can affect the health of both the mother and her puppies, making it crucial to treat the condition as soon as possible. Here are some steps you can take to treat mastitis:

  • Consult with your veterinarian: Your veterinarian can conduct an examination and determine the best course of treatment. They may prescribe antibiotics or suggest other medications to help alleviate the inflammation and infection.
  • Apply warm compresses: Warm, moist compresses applied to the affected area can help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. This can be done several times a day, for about 10-15 minutes per session.
  • Encourage proper drainage: It’s important to encourage your dog to nurse her puppies regularly, as this can help to stimulate milk production and proper drainage of the affected mammary gland(s). If one or more of the nipples is particularly sore or swollen, you may need to milk that nipple out a bit to help with the drainage.
  • Ensure proper hygiene: Keep the whelping area and the puppies clean to prevent the spread of infection. Avoid touching the affected nipple(s) with your bare hands, and use disposable gloves when administering any medications or handling the puppies.
  • Monitor for improvement: Keep a close eye on the affected area and look for signs of improvement, such as reduced swelling and pain, and increased drainage. If there is no improvement or the condition worsens, contact your veterinarian right away.

It’s important to note that mastitis can be a serious condition and should not be ignored. Prompt treatment is essential to ensure the health and wellbeing of both the mother and her puppies. By following these steps and consulting with your veterinarian, you can help to alleviate the symptoms of mastitis and keep your dog and her litter healthy.

Stimulating Milk Production

After whelping, some mother dogs may experience low milk production, which can result in the puppies not receiving enough nutrients for proper growth and development. Here are some ways to stimulate milk production:

  • Nutrition: Ensuring that the mother dog is receiving adequate nutrition is essential for milk production. A high-quality, protein-rich diet can help enhance milk production. Consult with your veterinarian about the best diet and supplements for your dog.
  • Frequent Nursing: Allowing the puppies to nurse frequently can stimulate milk production. Grasp the puppy by the scruff of the neck and hold them up to the mother’s nipple if they are having trouble finding it. Make sure the puppies are latched on correctly to ensure milk flow.
  • Pump Milk: Using a breast pump or hand-expressing milk can help stimulate milk production. This technique can also be used to relieve pressure in the breasts if they become too full.
  • Massage: Gently massaging the mammary glands can promote milk production. Use circular motions while applying gentle pressure to the glands.
  • Oxytocin: Oxytocin is a hormone that stimulates milk production and release. Your veterinarian may suggest administering oxytocin injections to the mother dog to promote milk production.
  • Adequate Rest: Rest is essential for the mother dog’s health and can help with milk production. Provide the mother with a comfortable and safe environment to rest in.

It’s essential to monitor the mother dog and her puppies closely during the postpartum period. If you notice any signs of health or milk production issues, contact your veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. By providing adequate nutrition, frequent nursing, pumping milk, massaging, administering oxytocin, and rest, you can help stimulate milk production in mother dogs and ensure the puppies receive the necessary nourishment for healthy growth and development.

Assisting with Rejected Puppies

Sometimes a mother dog may reject one or more of her puppies, leaving them vulnerable without proper care. This can happen for various reasons, ranging from health issues in the puppy to an instinctual response from the mother. As a pet owner, it’s important to know how to assist a rejected puppy to ensure their survival.

Identify the Rejected Puppy

Before taking any actions, it’s important to identify which puppy has been rejected. Observe the mother and her litter to see which puppies she is attending to and which she is avoiding. A rejected puppy may be left alone, away from the mother and the rest of the litter, and may show signs of weakness or distress.

Providing Extra Care for the Rejected Puppy

Once the rejected puppy has been identified, it’s time to provide them with extra care. This can include hand-feeding the puppy and making sure it stays warm and clean. A heating pad or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel can provide warmth, but be sure to monitor the temperature to prevent overheating.

Introducing the Rejected Puppy to the Mother

In some cases, a rejected puppy can be reintroduced to the mother after additional care has been given. To do this, gently rub a towel on the rejected puppy to transfer its scent to the other puppies and the mother. Then, place the puppy with its siblings and mother and monitor the interaction. If the mother continues to reject the puppy, it’s important to continue providing extra care and consider the options for long-term care for the puppy.

Consider Long-Term Care Options

If the mother continues to reject the puppy or is unable to care for it because of health issues, it’s important to consider long-term care options. This can include hand-rearing the puppy, finding a surrogate mother dog, or consulting with a veterinarian for additional advice and support.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

If you’re facing challenges with a rejected puppy, always consult with your veterinarian for advice and guidance. They can help assess the health of the puppy and provide recommendations for proper care and treatment.

Actions to TakeTips
Identify the rejected puppyObserve the mother and the litter to identify the rejected puppy.
Provide extra careHand-feed the puppy and keep it warm and clean.
Introduce the puppy to the motherReintroduce the puppy to the mother and monitor interaction.
Consider long-term careConsult with a veterinarian for advice on long-term care options.
Talk to your veterinarianAlways consult with a veterinarian for advice.

Helping a rejected puppy requires patience, care and attention. Identifying the puppy, providing extra care, reintroducing it to the mother and considering long-term care options are all important steps to ensure the survival and growth of the puppy. Consulting with your veterinarian can provide additional support and guidance throughout the process.

Caring for Newborn Puppies

Welcoming a litter of newborn puppies into the world can be an exciting and joyful time for any pet owner. However, with the joy comes the responsibility of caring for these delicate and vulnerable creatures. It’s crucial to provide proper care and attention to ensure the health and well-being of the newborns. In this section, we will cover essential tips on how to care for your newborn puppies, including keeping them warm and clean, providing proper nutrition, monitoring their health, and socializing them. Let’s dive in and learn more about these critical aspects of caring for newborn puppies.

Keeping the Puppies Warm and Clean

It’s essential to keep the newborn puppies warm and clean for their overall health and well-being. Here are some tips on how to achieve this:

1. Provide Adequate Heating: Puppies cannot regulate their body temperature and rely on their mother’s warmth. During the first week of life, they need a temperature of around 85F. A heating pad or heat lamp can help maintain this temperature.

2. Use Clean Bedding: The mother will remove any soiled bedding; however, it’s crucial to change the bedding daily to prevent the buildup of bacteria and infection.

3. Bathe the Puppies Only When Necessary: Avoid bathing the puppies unless it’s necessary, as it can strip their skin of natural oils that protect them from infection. Use a damp cloth to clean them gently.

4. Wipe the Puppies After Feeding: Puppies tend to burp up milk, which can result in a soiled coat. Use a clean, warm cloth to wipe them after feeding.

5. Monitor for Any Health Issues: Keep an eye on the puppies’ overall health, including the color of their skin, body temperature, and energy level. Any changes in these areas could indicate health issues that need addressing.

6. Separate Any Sick Puppies: If you notice any sick puppies, separate them immediately from the healthy ones to prevent the spread of infection. Seek veterinary care for the sick puppies.

Taking care of newborn puppies requires attention to detail and constant monitoring. Keeping them warm and clean is a crucial aspect of their care, and following these tips can help ensure their health and well-being.

Ensuring Proper Nutrition for Puppies

Newborn puppies require proper nutrition in order to grow and develop into healthy adult dogs. It is essential for the mother dog to receive a well-balanced diet during pregnancy as well as after whelping to ensure that her milk production is adequate. Here are some tips for ensuring proper nutrition for your newborn puppies:

1. Provide enough milk: Puppies should be nursed by their mother every two to three hours during the first few weeks of life. If the mother is not producing enough milk, a veterinarian may recommend supplementing with a milk replacer. It is important to monitor the puppies’ weight gain to ensure that they are receiving adequate nutrition.

2. Feed a well-balanced diet: Once the puppies are weaned, it is important to feed them a well-balanced diet to support their growth and development. Puppies require a higher amount of protein and fat than adult dogs. Choose a quality puppy food that meets their nutritional needs.

3. Control portion sizes: Overfeeding can lead to obesity and health problems later in life. Follow the feeding instructions on the puppy food packaging and adjust portion sizes as needed based on the puppies’ growth and weight gain.

4. Provide fresh water: Puppies should have access to fresh water at all times. Replace their water bowl frequently to ensure that it is clean and free of debris.

5. Avoid human food: Human food can contain ingredients that are harmful to puppies. Stick to feeding them quality puppy food and treats made specifically for dogs.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your newborn puppies receive the proper nutrition to grow and develop into healthy adult dogs. If you have any concerns about your puppies’ nutrition or growth, consult with a veterinarian for advice.

Monitoring the Puppies for Any Health Issues

After the whelping process is over and the puppies are born, it is vital to monitor their health continuously. Here are some essential tips to keep the newborn puppies healthy:

Regular Physical Examinations: It is essential to take the puppies for a regular check-up to a licensed veterinarian to ensure that they are developing well. This help in identifying any health problems that the puppy may have at an earlier stage, increasing the chances of a speedy recovery.

Observe for Any Abnormal Behavior: Monitor the puppies closely for any unusual behavior, such as changes in appetite, lethargy, or vomiting. These could be symptoms of an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed promptly.

Check their Vital Signs: Checking the puppy’s heartbeat, breathing rate, and temperature should be a regular routine. A healthy puppy should have a normal heart rate of 120-160 beats per minute and a respiratory rate of 15-35 breaths per minute.

Parasite Control: Newborn puppies are prone to parasites such as fleas, ticks, and worms. It is necessary to keep them clean and sanitized to reduce the likelihood of infestation.

Follow the Vaccination Schedule: Vaccination can prevent many life-threatening diseases. As a responsible pet owner, you are recommended to follow the vaccination schedule according to your vet’s advice.

As a pet owner, you play a crucial role in keeping your puppies healthy. A little bit of attention and care can go a long way in preventing health issues for your puppies.

Socializing the Puppies

Socializing the puppies is a crucial part of their development as it helps them become well-adjusted and confident dogs. It involves getting the puppies used to different people, animals, and environments. Puppies need to be socialized from a young age to prevent them from becoming fearful or aggressive towards unfamiliar people or situations in the future.

The Benefits of Socializing Puppies

There are numerous benefits of socializing puppies, including:

  1. Preventing fearful and aggressive behavior: Puppies that are properly socialized are less likely to become fearful or aggressive towards strangers, other dogs, or new environments.
  2. Reducing stress: Socialized puppies are exposed to different people, animals, sounds, and environments from a young age, which can help prevent them from becoming stressed or anxious in new situations.
  3. Increasing confidence: When puppies are exposed to a variety of people, animals, and environments in a positive way, it can help build their confidence and make them more adaptable in the future.
  4. Improving obedience: Socialized puppies tend to be more obedient and easier to train than those that have had limited socialization experiences.

How to Socialize Puppies

Socializing puppies should be done gradually and in a positive way. Here are some tips for socializing puppies:

Start earlyPuppies should be socialized from a young age (between 3-14 weeks) as this is when they are most receptive to new experiences.
Expose puppies to different peoplePuppies should meet a variety of people, including men, women, children, and people of different ethnicities. Encourage gentle handling and petting.
Introduce puppies to other animalsIntroduce puppies to other dogs, cats, and other pets in a controlled setting. Make sure the other animals are friendly and up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Expose puppies to different environmentsPuppies should be exposed to different environments, such as parks, beaches, and busy streets, in a controlled and safe way.
Use positive reinforcementUse positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise, to encourage good behavior and help puppies associate new experiences with positive outcomes.
Take it slowDon’t overwhelm puppies with too many new experiences all at once. Gradually expose them to new things in a positive and controlled way.


Socializing puppies is an important part of their development and can help prevent behavioral problems in the future. By exposing puppies to different people, animals, and environments in a positive way, you can help them become well-adjusted and confident dogs. Remember to start socializing your puppy from a young age, take it slow, and use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior.


In conclusion, whelping can be a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience for both the mother dog and the owner. It is important to prepare for whelping by ensuring proper nutrition for the mother and creating a comfortable whelping area. Understanding the signs of labor can also help to prevent complications during whelping.

Although there are common challenges that can arise during whelping, such as difficult labor, retained placenta, mastitis, low milk production, and rejected puppies, there are steps that can be taken to address these challenges. Consulting with a veterinarian and assisting with difficult labor, retained placenta removal, treating mastitis, stimulating milk production, and assisting with rejected puppies can help ensure a successful delivery.

Once the puppies are born, it is important to care for them properly by keeping them warm and clean, ensuring they receive proper nutrition, monitoring them for any health issues, and socializing them. With the proper care and attention, the puppies can grow into happy and healthy adult dogs.

Overall, whelping can be a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience. With preparation and the right care, both the mother and puppies can thrive. Remember to always seek veterinary advice if any issues arise, and enjoy the beautiful new addition(s) to your furry family.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I feed my dog a special diet during the whelping process?

Yes, a diet formulated for pregnant and lactating dogs is best during whelping. It should be high in protein and calories. Speak to your veterinarian about the best diet for your dog.

2. Do I need to be present during delivery?

It is best to have someone present during delivery in case any complications arise. However, if your dog has had successful deliveries before, you may be able to step away briefly.

3. How can I tell if my dog is having difficulty during labor?

Signs of difficulty during labor include prolonged contractions without any puppies being delivered, visible distress in the mother, or a lack of progress in delivery after 30 minutes of active pushing. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately.

4. Is it normal for a dog to reject puppies?

It can be normal for a mother dog to reject puppies, especially if she is a first-time mother. However, if the rejection persists or is excessive, it is best to seek veterinary assistance.

5. How soon do puppies need to start nursing after birth?

It is best for puppies to start nursing within an hour of being born as the first milk, or colostrum, is important for passing on essential nutrients and immunity.

6. Can I help stimulate milk production for my dog?

Yes, you can help stimulate milk production for your dog by making sure she is getting proper nutrition, providing a cozy and stress-free environment, and helping her nurse frequently. Your veterinarian can also suggest additional methods if needed.

7. How should I provide warmth for newborn puppies?

Newborn puppies cannot regulate their own body temperatures and need to be kept warm. You can use heat lamps or heating pads, but make sure to monitor the temperature and prevent overheating. A whelping box with soft bedding can also help keep them warm.

8. When can newborn puppies start walking?

Newborn puppies are not able to walk until they are two to three weeks old. They will start to stand and take wobbly steps around this time.

9. Can I bathe newborn puppies?

No, newborn puppies should not be bathed as they are fragile and can easily become chilled. You can gently wipe them clean with a warm damp cloth if needed.

10. When can puppies go to their new homes?

Puppies should stay with their mother and littermates until they are at least eight weeks old. This is important for their socialization and development. After eight weeks, they can go to their new homes if they are healthy and weaned.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply

      Dog Care Hacks