Bringing new life into the world is a beautiful and miraculous experience, but it can also be a stressful and overwhelming time. As an owner of an American Cocker Spaniel, it’s important to be prepared for the whelping process to ensure the safety and health of both the mother and her puppies. From determining the delivery date to assisting during the delivery and caring for the new family, there are many steps involved in this journey. In this article, we will guide you through the process step-by-step and provide helpful tips for assisting your American Cocker Spaniel during whelping. So grab a pen and paper, take a deep breath, and let’s get started!

Preparing for Whelping

Preparing For Whelping
Preparing for the arrival of new puppies can be both an exciting and anxious time for any dog owner. As the due date approaches, it’s important to ensure that you have everything in place to support your American Cocker Spaniel through the whelping process. This includes setting up a comfortable whelping area, assembling a whelping kit, and knowing the stages of dog labor to expect. By taking these steps, you can help ensure a smooth and stress-free delivery for your furry friend. Read on to learn more about how to prepare for whelping, including essential items for your whelping kit, how to create a comfortable whelping area, what to expect during the different stages of dog labor, how to prepare for a potential vet visit, and common challenges that may arise.

Determine Delivery Date

Determining the delivery date of your American Cocker Spaniel is essential for ensuring that you are fully prepared and have everything that you need for the whelping process. Typically, the gestation period for dogs is around 63 days, although it can be slightly shorter or longer, ranging between 58 and 68 days.

To determine the delivery date for your Cocker Spaniel, you will need to calculate the date of conception. This can be challenging if you are unsure of the exact date, particularly if your dog has mated over several days or with multiple dogs. However, there are some indicators you can use to approximate the date.

One method is to track your dog’s temperature. During the early days of pregnancy, the body temperature of your dog will drop by around 1 degree Celsius. Then, around 24 hours before delivery, the temperature will drop again, indicating that labor is imminent. By monitoring your dog’s temperature, you can get a general idea of when to expect the puppies.

Another way to determine the delivery date is by palpating your dog’s abdomen. Your veterinarian can do this to detect the presence of developing fetuses. Alternatively, you can learn to do it yourself, but it is important to approach it carefully to avoid injury to the mother or puppies. If you can feel the puppies moving, you may have a rough idea of the due date.

It is essential to have a good idea of the delivery date so you can help your dog during and after delivery. Knowing the due date also means you can prepare your whelping area, assemble your whelping kit, and ensure that you have everything you need for when labor does start.

Preparing yourself for whelping is just one step in the process of ensuring a healthy and stress-free delivery for your Cocker Spaniel. Once you have everything prepared, you and your beloved pet can face the labor process calmly and confidently together. And after the delivery, rest assured you can find all you need to know about caring for newborn puppies in our guide to newborn Cocker Spaniel care.

Set Up Whelping Area

Creating a cozy and comfortable whelping area for your American Cocker Spaniel is an essential part of preparing for whelping. You want to make sure your furry companion feels safe and secure when delivering her puppies. Here are some essential items that you will need to set up for the whelping area:

Whelping BoxA whelping box is a safe and comfortable place for the mother and her puppies. Choose a box that is big enough for the mother to move around and stretch, but not too big that the puppies can get lost.
Heating Pad/ LampYour whelping area needs to be warm and comfortable, especially for newborn puppies. Use a heating pad or lamp to keep the temperature around 80-85°F degrees.
Newspapers/ Puppy PadsPlace newspapers or puppy pads on the floor of the whelping box to absorb any fluids during birth and the early days of the puppies’ lives.
Clean Towels/ BlanketsYou will need plenty of clean towels and blankets for the mother and her puppies. Change them frequently during the first few weeks of the puppies’ lives.
Food and WaterSet up an area close to the whelping box where the mother can easily access food and water. Make sure she has a separate area to eat, away from her puppies.
First Aid KitPrepare a first aid kit with essentials such as scissors, gloves, disinfectant, and emergency numbers in case of unexpected complications during delivery.

Remember to set up the whelping area at least one week before the due date so that your American Cocker Spaniel can get used to her surroundings and feel comfortable. This will help reduce stress, which is important for the health of the mother and her puppies.

Assemble Whelping Kit

One of the most important steps in preparing for your American Cocker Spaniel’s whelping is assembling a comprehensive whelping kit. This kit should contain all of the necessary supplies that you will need during the delivery process to ensure that the mother and puppies are healthy and safe.

To make it easier for you to understand what you’ll need, we’ve compiled a table of items that should be included in your whelping kit:

Non-toxic disinfectantThis should be used to clean the bedding and whelping area before and after the delivery.
StethoscopeTo monitor the mother’s heart rate and breathing during labor.
ThermometerTo monitor the mother’s temperature before and after delivery. A sudden drop in temperature can indicate that the mother is about to go into labor.
Clean towels and ragsThese will be used to clean the mother and her puppies, and to keep them warm and dry after the delivery.
Latex glovesTo keep your hands clean and prevent the spread of bacteria during the delivery.
ScissorsFor cutting the umbilical cords.
Iodine or chlorhexidine solutionTo disinfect the umbilical cord stumps after they have been cut.
Cord clampsThese can be used to clamp the umbilical cords before cutting them.
ScaleTo weigh the puppies after they are born.

While this is not an exhaustive list of everything you could include in your whelping kit, it should give you a general idea of the supplies that you’ll need. Remember to keep your whelping kit organized and easily accessible, so that you can quickly grab what you need when the delivery begins. With a well-prepared kit, you can ensure a safe and healthy delivery for both the mother and her puppies.

Signs of Labor

Signs Of Labor
As the due date approaches, it’s important to be aware of the telltale signs that your American Cocker Spaniel is about to go into labor. Just like with human pregnancies, every dog is different when it comes to how they behave during the final stages of pregnancy. As a responsible owner, it’s crucial to stay vigilant and attentive during this time. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the different stages of labor and what signs you can look out for to ensure a smooth delivery for your furry friend.

Stage One Labor

During the first stage of labor, your American Cocker Spaniel will show certain signs that indicate the onset of delivery. This stage generally lasts for around 12 to 24 hours, and it is essential to closely monitor your pet during this time. Here is what you need to know about stage one labor:

Signs of Stage One LaborWhat to Do
Restlessness and nesting behaviorProvide a calm and comfortable space for the mother, and ensure she has access to her whelping area.
Decreased appetiteOffer small meals at frequent intervals, and make sure fresh water is always available.
Increased panting and shakingStay close to your pet, and offer reassurance and gentle massage to help her relax.
Dilation of the cervixMonitor your dog’s vaginal discharge for any signs of blood or mucus. You can also perform a gentle vaginal exam to check for dilation.

It is important to remain calm and attentive during this initial stage of labor, and to provide a quiet and peaceful environment for the mother. If you notice any concerning symptoms, such as excessive bleeding, vomiting or lethargy, it is important to seek veterinary assistance without delay. With proper care and attention, you can help your American Cocker Spaniel through the stages of labor and welcome a healthy litter of puppies into the world.

Stage Two Labor

During Stage Two of labor, your American Cocker Spaniel will deliver her puppies. This stage typically lasts from 30 minutes to 4 hours, but can take longer for first-time mothers. Here is what you can expect during Stage Two of labor:

Signs of Stage Two LaborAction to Take
The appearance of a puppy at the vulva, with or without the amniotic sac.Allow your dog to push the puppy out on her own. If the puppy does not come out within 10-15 minutes, gently pull the puppy out by grasping the puppy with a clean towel and applying gentle traction while the mother pushes.
Continued contractions without the appearance of a puppy.Keep your dog calm and comfortable. If she has been pushing for more than an hour with no success, contact your veterinarian.
A green discharge from the vulva.Consult with your veterinarian right away as this discharge can indicate a serious problem with one or more of the puppies.
The mother taking a break between puppies.Allow your dog to rest for up to an hour, but be ready to assist in case she needs help with subsequent puppies.

It is important to note that while Stage Two of labor can be messy and noisy, your American Cocker Spaniel should not be in distress or pain. If you notice signs of extreme discomfort or prolonged contractions without the delivery of a puppy, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Stage Three Labor

The third stage of labor is an important but often overlooked phase of the birthing process. This stage is crucial to ensure that all the debris from the placenta and sac are expelled from the mother’s body. Failure to expel these materials can lead to complications such as infection or even death. Generally, this stage lasts anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. However, if it lasts longer than an hour, it’s recommended to seek medical assistance.

Signs of Stage Three Labor
During stage three labor, your American Cocker Spaniel will show signs similar to the second stage, such as panting, pacing, and straining. However, one notable sign of this stage’s onset is the appearance of a greenish-brown discharge from the mother’s vulva. This discharge will be accompanied by the placenta which will appear as a small, round, and white/red structure. In some cases, your Cocker Spaniel may not expel the placenta with the puppy, and this can cause complications, including infection.

Assisting During Stage Three Labor
It is essential to assist your Cocker Spaniel during the third stage of labor. The goal is to ensure that all the material is expelled from her body. Failure to do so can lead to infections and other complications that can endanger both the mother and the puppies.

The first step is to make sure that the mother is in a comfortable and safe whelping area. Place her in a clean and dry space where she can rest without distractions. Be sure to have clean towels available to collect any debris, including the placenta.

Once the puppy is born, be sure to help the mother clean it and remove any debris from its face and mouth. This can be done by gently wiping it with a clean and warm towel. After that, you must wait for the afterbirth to come out. This can take anywhere from several minutes to an hour. It may also help to gently massage the mother’s abdomen to facilitate the afterbirth’s expulsion. Make sure to dispose of the sac and any other debris in a safe and sanitary manner.

Post-Delivery Care
After the afterbirth is expelled, be sure to check the mother for any abnormal discharge or signs of discomfort. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, immediately contact your vet. Also, it’s essential to keep the mother and puppies in a hygienic and warm environment to prevent any infection. Keep them separate from other dogs and ensure that they have enough access to nutrition and hydration.

To sum up, it’s essential to be vigilant during the third stage of labor to ensure that your Cocker Spaniel is adequately cared for and that all debris is expelled correctly. Any complications or abnormalities should be addressed immediately to prevent risks to the mother and newborn puppies’ health.

Assisting During the Delivery

Assisting During The Delivery
As the delivery date approaches, it’s important for dog owners to be prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise. While most American Cocker Spaniels are able to deliver their puppies without any issues, it’s always a good idea to be ready in case of an emergency. This section will cover the necessary steps to take when assisting your American Cocker Spaniel during the delivery process. From keeping calm to cutting and tying the umbilical cord, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to ensure a safe and successful birth. So, let’s dive in and discover how you can assist your furry friend during the delivery process.

Keeping Calm

When assisting your American Cocker Spaniel during whelping, it’s important to remember that the mother dog can sense your anxiety and stress. This can cause her to become anxious and agitated, which can impede the delivery process. It’s important to keep calm and focused throughout the process. Here are some tips to help you maintain a calm demeanor during whelping:

Create a calm environment
– Turn off any loud music or television to reduce noise levels.
– Keep the room dimly lit to promote a relaxing atmosphere.
– Speak in a soft and reassuring tone to comfort the mother dog.

Stay organized
– Keep all necessary supplies within reach to avoid frantic searching for items during delivery.
– Stick to a schedule to ensure everything is done in a timely manner.
– Assign specific tasks to different people to avoid confusion and ensure efficiency.

Remain patient
– Be prepared to wait for extended periods of time during labor.
– Don’t rush the delivery process, as it can lead to complications.
– Allow the mother dog to take breaks between contractions if necessary.

By creating a calm environment, staying organized, and remaining patient, you can help ensure a smooth and stress-free delivery for both the mother dog and her puppies.

Breaking the Sac

As the American Cocker Spaniel begins to give birth, you may notice a clear fluid-filled sac covering each puppy. It is important to break this sac promptly to prevent the puppy from suffocating. Breaking the sac is a simple process, but it must be done carefully to avoid harming the puppy.

Here’s how to safely break the sac of each puppy:

  • Step 1: Grasp the sac gently but firmly with a clean and dry towel.
  • Step 2: Use your fingers to tear a small hole in the sac, near the top of the puppy’s head.
  • Step 3: Once you have made a small hole, gently peel back the sac to reveal the puppy’s head and front legs.
  • Step 4: Hold the puppy gently but firmly with the towel and continue to peel back the sac, being careful not to tear the umbilical cord or pull too hard on the puppy.
  • Step 5: If the sac is slippery and difficult to grip, use a pair of clean and dry scissors to make a small incision in the sac, near the top of the puppy’s head. Only cut the sac, and not the puppy’s skin.
  • Step 6: Once the sac has been fully removed, check to make sure the puppy is breathing and responsive. If the puppy is not breathing, use a clean and dry towel to gently rub it and stimulate its breathing.

Remember, breaking the sac is an important part of the whelping process and should be done promptly, but with care. If you are unsure or uncomfortable performing this step, consult with your veterinarian or a professional breeder for assistance.

Drying and Stimulating Puppies

After the puppy is born, it is essential to dry and stimulate it to ensure it begins to breathe and establish its own body heat. Following these simple steps will help the puppy get a safe start in life.

Drying the Puppies

As soon as the puppy is delivered, gently wrap it in a clean towel and dry it thoroughly. It’s vital to be gentle so as not to cause any harm to the puppy. Rub it gently until it is dry and begins to move around on its own. If the puppy is not breathing, wipe its mouth and nose to clear any fluids preventing it from breathing.

Stimulating the Puppies

After the puppy is dry, stimulate the puppy so it can start breathing. Use a clean towel or your fingers to rub the puppy’s chest and back vigorously. This action will mimic the mother’s licking, which stimulates the puppy to breathe. Be careful not to be too rough, though, as vigorous rubbing can cause harm.

When the puppy starts breathing, place it in front of the mother’s teats to initiate nursing.

Step 1Wrap the puppy in a clean towel
Step 2Dry the puppy thoroughly
Step 3Clear any fluids from the puppy’s mouth and nose if it’s not breathing
Step 4Use a clean towel or your fingers to rub the puppy’s chest and back vigorously
Step 5Be careful not to be too rough, as vigorous rubbing can cause harm
Step 6Place the puppy in front of the mother’s teats to initiate nursing after it starts breathing

Remember, drying and stimulating the puppies are critical steps in ensuring the puppies’ health and safety. Be gentle and patient with them, and they will have a healthy start in life.

Cutting and Tying the Umbilical Cord

Once all puppies have been delivered, it’s crucial to attend to their immediate needs, including cutting and tying the umbilical cord. This is a delicate process that requires attention to detail to avoid any injury to the puppies or the mother.

Clean the Area: Before cutting the umbilical cord, make sure the area is clean and dry. Use a sterile blade or scissors to prevent infection.

Cut the Cord: Using a sterile blade, cut the cord approximately an inch (2.5 cm) from the puppy’s belly. Cut it quickly and cleanly, making sure not to pull it, and leaving enough cord on the puppy’s side.

Tie the Cord: Using dental floss, tie the cord ¼ inch (6mm) from the puppy’s belly. Tie a double knot to prevent it from coming loose, but don’t tie it too tightly. After tying, cut the remaining cord, leaving at least 1/8 inch (3 mm) from the knot.

Inspect the Stump: After tying and cutting, check the puppy’s belly stump for any signs of bleeding or infection. If there’s excessive bleeding or discharge, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Repeat for Each Puppy: Repeat the process for each puppy, making sure to use clean and sterilized equipment for each one.

By properly cutting and tying the umbilical cord, you ensure the health and safety of the puppies and the mother. Remember that any deviation from the process may expose them to infections, bleeding, or even death.

Cleaning the Mother and Puppies

Once the delivery is complete and all the puppies are safely out, it’s important to clean the mother and puppies to ensure their health and safety. Here are some steps you can take to properly clean the mother and her newborn puppies:

  • Check for any remaining placenta or debris: After delivery, the mother may still have some placenta or debris remaining in her reproductive tract. Use a clean towel to gently remove any remaining material.
  • Help the mother clean her puppies: The mother may instinctively start licking her puppies to clean them after delivery. However, if she doesn’t, you can use a clean, damp towel to gently wipe each puppy. Make sure the towel is warm and wrung out properly so you don’t get the puppies too wet.
  • Dry the puppies: After wiping the puppies down, use a dry, clean towel to gently dry them off. This is especially important for puppies who were born in the amniotic sac and may have a harder time regulating their body temperature.
  • Monitor the mother: Keep an eye on the mother while she cleans her puppies to make sure she’s not too rough with them. If she’s excessively rough, you may need to intervene by gently separating her from the puppies for a short period of time.

Remember, cleanliness is key when dealing with newborn puppies. Make sure you and your tools are clean, and use caution when handling the mother and her puppies. If you notice any abnormalities in the mother’s behavior or in the puppies’ health, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Monitoring the Mother and Puppies

After the delivery, it’s essential to keep an eye on both the mother and her puppies. Here’s what you need to know about monitoring them:

Checking Vital Signs: The first thing to do after the delivery is to check the mother’s vital signs, including her temperature, pulse, and breathing. Make sure that she’s stable and alert. Also, monitor the puppies for any signs of distress, such as difficulty breathing or weak suckling reflex.

Counting Puppies: Count the number of puppies to make sure that none of them are still inside the mother. If there are any remaining, seek veterinary help immediately.

Observing Behavior: Keep an eye on the mother and puppies’ behavior. The mother should be attentive to her puppies, and the puppies should be active and feeding. If the mother is not caring for her puppies or a puppy is not eating, it might be a sign of a problem.

Noting Health Concerns: Keep a record of each puppy’s weight and growth rate. Monitor for any signs of illness such as lethargy, diarrhea, or vomiting. If you notice any health concerns, contact your veterinarian right away.

Cleaning the Whelping Area: Keep the whelping area clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection. Wash your hands before handling the puppies, and keep the mother and puppies away from any pets or people who might carry diseases.

Monitoring the mother and puppies after delivery is crucial for their health and wellbeing. By keeping an eye on them, you can ensure that they’re healthy and happy, and address any concerns right away.

After the Delivery

As the delivery comes to a close, it’s important to shift your focus to the next phase of caring for your American Cocker Spaniel and her puppies. While the hard work of labor and delivery may be over, there’s still plenty to do to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and her puppies. From nursing and feeding to scheduling a veterinary check-up, the post-delivery period is crucial for the health of your new furry family. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect during this important time.

Nursing and Feeding

Once the delivery is complete, nursing and feeding become a crucial part of caring for the mother and her puppies.

Nursing: Cocker Spaniel mothers will nurse their puppies every 2-3 hours for the first few weeks. It’s important to monitor the puppies’ nursing habits and ensure that each of them is getting enough milk. Signs that a puppy may not be getting enough milk include restlessness, crying, and lack of weight gain. If you notice any of these signs, consult with your veterinarian.

Feeding: While the mother is nursing the puppies, it’s important to provide her with plenty of food and water. She will need to eat a high-quality, nutrient-rich diet to support her own health as well as milk production. It’s recommended to feed the mother a puppy-specific food during this time, as it contains higher levels of fat and protein to support her needs.

To make sure the mother is getting enough to eat, offer her small, frequent meals throughout the day. You can also provide her with a calcium supplement, but only under the guidance of a veterinarian as too much calcium can be harmful.

What to DoWhat to Avoid
Provide the mother with a high-quality puppy foodFeeding the mother table scraps or human food
Offer small, frequent meals throughout the dayLetting the mother’s food and water dishes run empty
Consult with your veterinarian about a calcium supplementAdministering a calcium supplement without veterinary guidance

In addition to taking care of the mother’s nutritional needs, it’s important to keep the whelping area clean and free of debris. This helps keep both the mother and her puppies healthy and prevents the spread of infection. Change out bedding frequently and disinfect the area as needed.

With proper nursing and feeding, you can ensure that the mother and puppies have the best chance of staying healthy and happy during the post-whelping period. Don’t hesitate to consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.

Veterinary Check-Up

After whelping, it is crucial to schedule a thorough veterinary check-up for both the mother and puppies. This will ensure that any complications are identified and treated promptly, which is vital for the health of the new family.

During the veterinary check-up, the vet will examine the mother for any signs of infection, retained placenta or tissue, and ensure that her uterus is contracting properly. Additionally, the puppies will be checked to ensure that they are healthy and growing normally.

A veterinary check-up should include:

  • An overall examination of the mother and puppies’ health and wellbeing
  • A check-up of the puppies’ weight and temperature
  • An examination of the mother’s mammary glands to ensure that she is producing enough milk for her litter
  • A review of the mother’s vaccination history and deworming status

If any issues are identified during the veterinary check-up, the vet will recommend the appropriate treatment, which might include medications for infections or supportive care.

It is important to schedule the veterinary check-up as soon as possible after whelping, especially if there were any complications during the delivery. Additionally, the vet will be able to provide advice on how to care for the mother and puppies in the days and weeks following the delivery, ensuring that they receive the best possible care.

Remember, the health of the mother and puppies is of utmost importance. Do not hesitate to take them to the vet if any concerns arise or if they show any signs of illness or distress.


After assisting your American Cocker Spaniel during the whelping process, you might feel exhausted, but also fulfilled. Seeing your dog give birth and caring for her and her puppies in their first few weeks of life is an incomparable experience that creates a unique bond between the two of you.

Remember that whelping can sometimes be a complicated process, and as an owner, your primary concern must be the safety of your dog and her puppies. You should always be mindful of each step of the process, closely monitor the mother and the puppies, and contact a veterinarian if needed.

Proper preparation, careful attention, and following the steps outlined in this article can make the difference between a stressful and chaotic delivery and a successful and peaceful one. Helping your American Cocker Spaniel welcome her puppies into the world can be a rewarding and unforgettable experience that strengthens your bond with your beloved pet.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I determine the delivery date for my American Cocker Spaniel?

You can determine the delivery date for your American Cocker Spaniel by counting 63 days from the date of breeding.

2. What should I include in my whelping kit?

Your whelping kit should include items such as alcohol, iodine, sterile scissors, towels, heating pad, and forceps.

3. What are the signs of stage one labor?

Signs of stage one labor include restlessness, nesting, and a decrease in body temperature.

4. What are the signs of stage two labor?

Signs of stage two labor include contractions, the appearance of the puppy’s head, and the mother pushing.

5. What are the signs of stage three labor?

Signs of stage three labor include the delivery of the afterbirth and a decrease in uterine contractions.

6. Should I cut the umbilical cord myself?

If the mother does not chew through the umbilical cord on her own, you should cut the cord yourself using sterile scissors.

7. Can I clean the newborn puppies with regular soap and water?

You should avoid using regular soap and water to clean the newborn puppies. Instead, use warm water and a mild puppy-safe shampoo.

8. How long should I monitor the mother and puppies after delivery?

You should monitor the mother and puppies for at least 24 hours after delivery to ensure that they are all healthy and nursing properly.

9. When should I take my American Cocker Spaniel and her puppies to the vet?

You should take your American Cocker Spaniel and her puppies to the vet within 48 hours of delivery for a check-up.

10. Can I leave my American Cocker Spaniel alone during the whelping process?

No, you should not leave your American Cocker Spaniel alone during the whelping process. You should be present to assist as needed and ensure a safe delivery.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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