The amount of information online about whelping these days is endless most of it will stand you in good stead, however I thought I would post my 2 bits worth here for everyone to read and digest should they wish to.
Firstly let’s start with the essentials that are required and then break them down further.
◦ Whelping Box
◦ Fleece Lining
◦ Heat Pad
◦ Whelping Kit
◦ Absorbent Pads
A whelping box being undoubtedly the most important item required for whelping. The box of sorts can be made of many different materials from cardboard to plastic, some old style boxes were made of wood but these days they are not used much at all. The box itself is used for the bitch dog to give birth in and is the puppies safe haven for the first part of their life.
The ideal time to get the whelping box set up is around 6 to 7 weeks into pregnancy, so really we need to start thinking about purchasing the whelping box at the beginning of week 6 at the latest. An easy way to select which size whelping box you’re going to need is measure your bitch dog from the tip of their nose to the base of their tail (where it meets the body) from this measurement add around 6” for the rails and free room then purchase the next box size up to this measurement, ideally you should have the whelping box set up 2 weeks in advance of the due date.
My advice would be if it is your first and only litter to purchase a disposable cardboard whelping box as these are great for a single use and are by far the cheapest option, they are very durable despite what you might think, they last very well, I have in fact in the past seen used second hand ones for sale on eBay but I wouldn’t recommend using a second hand one due to cross contamination possibilities. Where to purchase? Well there are many places online to purchase a whelping box, but as far as disposable whelping boxes go the best and longest established seller is Petnap I personally wouldn’t even look elsewhere.
When the box arrives it will be flat packed (assuming you have purchased a Petnap box). Inside the main outer parcel packaging will be:
◦ Folded whelping box
◦ A coated board for an extra base layer
◦ 3 wooden rails
◦ Instruction sheet
Take a look through the instructions as these will guide you through setting up the box, I will say in advance you will need a cross head screwdriver and some good parcel tape (wider the tape the better)
The rails are used to go around the inner edge of the box on 3 sides, the back and the 2 side edges, there are marks on the outside of the box to guide you were to put them but the marks tend to only be a guide and really you should position them at the same height as your bitches spine when she is laying on her side.
No whelping box is complete without a fleece to line it. The amount of different names given to this fleece is quite frankly ridiculous, you will hear it referred to as:
◦ Fleece Bedding
◦ Vet Bed
◦ Vet Fleece
◦ Veterinary Bedding
◦ Pet Fleece
◦ Vet Fleece Bedding
In short it is one in the same thing, it’s made from the same materials in the same way just called many different things to confuse the consumer. My advise when purchasing a the fleece is to just buy it from the cheapest and easiest source possible, normally this will be cheapest when purchased with a whelping box as part of a deal set.
You can of course purchase the fleece in many colours, sizes and 15m rolls if required. Purchasing with a whelping box is a good ideal as it will be pre-cut to fit your chosen box.
Electric Heat Pad
Without a heat source for your puppies to cling to could end in disaster as puppies are unable to regulate their own body temperature for the first 2 to 3 weeks. Most breeders these days will use an electric pet heat pad over some of the older fashion options such as hot water bottles or heat lamps.
The main advantages of using a plugin heat pad is they are very effective, extremely cheap to run, they don’t need any continuous maintenance to keep them warm and they will not over heat the bitch like a heat lamp will. If you were to go down the route of using a hot water bottle you will have the inconvenience of having to refill it every 4 hours as it will become to cold. Heat lamps are an ok option but certainly not the best for reasons I will go into: Firstly a heat lamp is an extremely expensive option to run compared to all other available options but above that with regards to negatives it will heat up everything in its path including the mum, extra heat is the last thing the bitch needs during whelping and/or after whelping.
When it comes to whelping kits there is an endless amount of options available. There are literally hundreds to choose from. In reality there is only a handful of items that you really require.
◦ Bulb Syringe
◦ Cord Scissors
◦ ID bands
I would say that these are my top 5 items that are a definite must, there are a couple of other things that I would normally use and purchase but these 5 are the essentials. My advice is not to get caught up in people selling you items that you’re never going to need. Stick to the whelping kit on Petnap or goYo pets as they are very similar.
The days of using old newspapers to soak up whelping mess and puppy wee I imagine are long behind us I for one can’t even remember the last time I read or purchased a newspaper with all the news being available online for free these days. When it comes to absorbent pads the main features that you need to consider is the size and the bottom layer. The size is important because if they are to small you will end up with mess running off the edges, over lapping them just means you will use more so pretty pointless, the other feature is the base layer, make sure the base layer is waterproof so that the mess soaks in the top layers and not through.