When your dog has delivered puppies, you want to make sure she has a safe and warm place to nurture them. This is a guide about caring for a dog and her puppies.
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Used playpens make a great place for your small pet to have their litter. My sister's Chihuahua had puppies a few months ago and she wanted her momma dog to have a safe place to have them and to keep the pups away from the daddy dog and cats in the house.
She cut a small hole big enough for the cord to a heating pad to use for the puppies when "momma" needed a break. Also, another good idea is you can drape stuff on the sides for privacy so the momma dog doesn't get to nervous with the other pets looking in. Worked great!
By Sarah from Chattanooga, TN
Our Border Collie just had puppies. In fact, she had 14 total, but only 11 survived. 11 puppies! Oh my gosh. Thoughts were going through my mind about how we were going to help our "girl" look after them. Our main concern at the time was bedding. Although we had some, having 11 "poopy" puppies, instead of the normal 5 or 6, it would make it difficult to keep the whelping box clean.
Newspapers are great, but in the colder autumn months in Australia at the moment, I was concerned about keeping them warm. I was going to go to the thrift shop to see if they had any cheap bedding or rags to sell.
When I took our Jessie to the vet to have an examination of her and the puppies, the vet nurse there said we could have the extra bedding they had. They had purchased some new thermo bedding for the vet practice and were going to throw out the old. It was very clean and serviceable, and it solved our dilemma. It was certainly a cheaper alternative. In fact it cost us nothing. So, if you are faced with the same situation, why not visit a few vet clinics in your area and ask them. You may be pleasantly surprised.
By Bev from Rockingham, Western Australia
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Here are questions related to Caring for a Dog and Her Puppies.
My Pit Bull just gave birth to 9 puppies, but I am scared that she might smother them or suffocate them while she moves around. Should I move the puppies or let her take care of it herself?
By Lina from Phoenix, AZ
We used a kiddie swimming pool for our Dalmatian puppies when they were born. It worked out well due to the sides being tall enough and plenty of room for sometimes up to 13 babies. I believe the mother instinct kicks in when the babies are born. Let mother nature take its course. She will take care of them. Its fun to watch them grow and develop their personalities. We had 4 litters and enjoyed every minute of it. Give the mom higher protein food to help with everyones nourishment.
These posts are great answers to your questions. Please keep in mind that the mama will have to eat at least 4 times a day as the puppies will take all her nutrients. She will want a break from them so don't be surprised if she just gets up and leaves them alone. Please make sure she has enough food/water at her disposal 24/7. Watch the puppies to make sure she is not shoving one off to the side and not feeding it. Also, please call your Veterinarian as soon as the puppies are old enough to leave their mom (7-8 weeks old) and make her appointment to have her spay. Good luck.
I looked at the link with the box instructions and didn't like that at all. I have always used kiddie plastic swimming pools. I like them for several reasons. They are the perfect size (since they come in different sizes) and provide lots of space for the growing puppies to move around and play.
2-The upper edge of the sides is smooth and doesn't scratch Mama when she steps out, It also doesn't hurt the puppies who may be "hanging on" to a teat when she's trying to get out. (This sounds odd, but happens many times, and a rough wooden crate can hurt the tiny puppy, and can give him splinters).
3-And last but by far not least, it's extremely easy to clean.
Also, don't worry so much about the Mama smothering the puppies. Yes, keep an eye out and "rescue" ones that she may not even realize she's laying on. But for the most part, let nature take over and they'll be fine.
Don't "separate her" from her puppies. Not ever! When she needs a break from them she will come out of the whelping box. But she will do it when SHE is ready. If you try to separate her from them when she doesn't want to it will only upset her. And she may decide to react in a way that you surely don't want. I've seen otherwise very loving dogs turn and bite their owners because the owner was trying to separate her from her babies. When she's ready she'll leave them for a bit. Otherwise, leave her to take care of them herself.
Finally, one last thing I wanted to mention. Everyone says to make sure she has plenty of extra nutrition and water during this time. This is extremely important. However, do not put the food and water inside the whelping box! Put it next to or near the box, but not inside it. The puppies could get into the dishes and possibly drown or have their noses clogged by the food crumbs. If you keep the food and water next to or near the box then Mama can come out and eat/drink when she needs to without having to go far from her pups.
Also, please do take Mama in for spaying once the puppies are old enough to leave their mom.
Good luck with your new family!
We kind of inherited a pregnant Pitbull. So this is an honest question. Please don't tell me to read up on the breed and all of that or tell me to get rid of her because I don't know what I am doing. If I knew the answers I would not ask.
She had a litter of 8 pups 3 weeks ago. But she is being mean to them, really mean. She was very sweet and non aggressive before the pups were born. What do I need to do?
By Lisa from Northeast, Ga
There could be any number of reasons why she is 'being mean' to the pups. A little more detail would have been helpful.
If you are handling the pups too much you may be causing the mom stress. When stressed dogs do strange things including killing their young.
It could me that she has no clue what to do. Some dogs just don't. In which case taking the pups away may be the best thing to do. But then YOU will need to take over for mom.
It could be that she knows something you don't, like she may be ill and not showing it yet. She may not have enough milk to provide for all the pups.
Bottom line is it could be anything. If you really DO want to help her and the pups - get the advice of a VET not the net.
My Pit Bull just had her babies and I am worried because she usually has 13 or 10, but this time she only had 4. One died because she was laying on it. It's her third litter; should I be worried?
By Perla from San Antonio, TX
How often do you breed your female? Does she get high quality food for breeding bitches? Does she have regular veterinary care? How old is she? All these things will affect the number and health of her puppies, as well as her health.
Your dog should not be bred more than once a year. She needs special food for herself and the pups, and regular veterinary care. If you can't provide these things for her have her spayed. Otherwise you may lose your dog and any puppies she may have. There are a lot of backyard breeders out there who breed for money and care little about their dogs. It's a club you don't want to join.
Can I take my Cavalier and her 2 week old puppies on holiday with me to my caravan 2 hours away by car? Will she be OK?
No, she will not be okay. You must try not to disturb a mother dog and her puppies. If there's too much stress she may reject the puppies and stop feeding them.
My dog had puppies two weeks ago and today she started biting people. This is not her first set of puppies. She was her normal playful self this morning. At lunchtime we went out to check her food and she bit my daughter. We do not mess with the puppies. Then when I went again later on to check her food she bit me. She still jumps up like she wants to be petted like usual, but then she bit me and as I was moving away she was still trying to bite me.
Your mama dog (and you) are the victim of raging hormones. I am guessing that this is just her being extra protective. She will get over it. Keep the stress and commotion around her to a minimum. If it continues after the puppies are weaned, you need to see your Vet.
My 2 year old female has just had her first litter of puppies, on day 2 she has started whining and whining. I don't know why. Is it possible she has postpartum depression or is she just worried about her puppies because she's new at this and not sure exactly what is going on.
By Robin.B from Holden Beach
Please take your dog to the vet NOW! She may have any number of postpartum complications ranging from undelivered dead puppies to a damaged uterus or bladder.
And PLEASE update with news of her condition!
What can happen if a new mom has her first pups and she doesn't lick them so they can use the bathroom, #2? What can I do to help?
By Robin B.
My female Pit Bull just gave birth to 4 puppies about 4 days ago. She is acting really weird. She leaves the puppies and tries to hide underneath the mother-in-law house out back. She has never done this before. She is very good about not leaving her yard or even venturing around out that way. Do dogs have post partum depression? Is this common for her to leave her puppies and hide for hours?
By Chrissy from Jacksonville, FL
Every once in a while a dog will "hide from" or otherwise not take care of her new litter. There are as many reasons for this as there are occurences of it. I would definitely have her and the pups checked by the vet.
If she continues to stay away from them you may need to feed them yourself. LOL Have fun! It sounds so much easier than it is! But it is not impossible. You simply need to get some puppy bottles with extra nipples and some puppy milk. You can check places like PetSmart or ask your vet where to get them. And you will need to be diligent on keeping to a schedule with the feedings. Every 2 hours till they are a couple of weeks old, then you can space it out to every 3 hours, then 4, etc. Your vet will advise you on the schedule.
Bottle feeding puppies can be extremely frustrating, as it's not natural for them so they don't take to it easily. But it is also a very rewarding experience too.
In addition to feeding them, you will also have to assist them in relieving themselves till their systems develop enough to do it on their own. Puppies aren't like babies and aren't born able to push the stool out of themselves. Mama has to help, and if the mother dog isn't doing it, then you have to. Again the vet will tell you how. It's not hard. Simply involves massaging them properly till it is expelled.
You're in for a few long weeks but you'll be rewarded with some loving puppies. Good luck!
My dog won't nurse her almost 4 week old puppies unless I make her and I have to lay down next to her and pet her during the process. This all started about a week ago when my parents came to visit and brought their dog with them. They have been gone now for a few days, but she still won't nurse them without my help and the 2am feedings are getting old. Help please. Can they eat puppy food and water and be fine?
If mom won't feed any longer, there are milk replacement supplements and feeding bottles at Pet supply stores such as Petsmart, feed stores, etc. There is also a powdered goats milk which can be supplemented for most animals, including dogs and cats. Soft foods can be introduced at 4 weeks. I have also soaked a little dry puppy food in milk supplement in the past when fostering litters. You should check with your vet to see what best suits your situation.
How do you know when your dog is ready to have puppies?
A lot like us; if they haven't disappeared to a dark spot as mentioned, they may spot with liquid, streaked with blood, pant, turn around a lot, appear uncomfortable, and so on. Make sure they have a soft folded old blanket or towels right at hand, and speak in soft reassuring tones. They may even get up and drink a bit of water in between deliveries. My dog delivered one on the couch, hopped down and delivered one on the floor.
My 4 year old Yorkie just had a litter of 6. All are well. She, on the other hand, will not eat much of anything, but drinks okay. She is nursing well and I am afraid that it is draining her without replenishing. She also is still doing the nesting ritual. She is alert and active. Any suggestions?
By Johnny C from FL
:-) I'm really glad you took her in, and that she's already improving! Did they say why this might be happening? I've never had a pet who had babies (all of our pets have been fixed), so I don't know if this is normal/to be expected. Again, I'm so glad she's starting to do better!
What do I do if I feel like my mother dog is not properly feeding her pups? How do I know for certain she is not feeding them?
Need more info.
How old are the puppies? How many?
How many nipples does the mom have?
What did you see that made you suspect there is a problem?
My Pit is pregnant and due to have her litter in 2 weeks. Her nipples are all very red all over the nipples, some worse than others. Is this normal?
By Lisa L. 
This doesn't appear to be normal. Your dog may have mastitis or a yeast infection.
My dog had only one puppy in this litter. We battled to keep weight on him for the last 3 weeks. We brought him to the vet for IV fluids and a dose of antibiotics. After thinking he was doing better, he passed away last night. How do I take him away from mom? She won't leave his side.
By Jodi B. 
Dogs' instinct is to keep their den clean, that's why they can be house trained. If you don't remove the puppy, she is likely to "dispose" of the puppy herself. Animals that have litters will recycle the lost nutrients in the placenta by eating it, it same thing with whelp that die soon after birth.
My dog had puppies 5 weeks ago. She has been whimpering the last 2 days. I don't know what is wrong. The pups are eating food and drinking water. Please help me. I tried everything to help her.
By Kayleigh 
Does your dog appear thin? Has she lost weight? If so, increase the nutritional value of her food. Don't just feed her more. Some people give nursing dogs puppy chow because it is high in nutrition and calories. Your dog needs both.
Check also the area around the nipples. If the temperature seems high or they seem overly sensitive (she yelps or nips you) she could have milk fever, an infection of the breasts.
Also, does she have a safe, quiet, out of the way place? Are people messing with the puppies all the time? She could be anxious. The puppies have to get used to people, but don't take them to far away from the mom or play with them more than a few minutes at a time. Don't take them in another room.
If nothing really jumps out at you as the problem or if you think she has milk fever a vet visit is in order.
My Chihuahua had her 2nd litter of puppies 2 weeks ago. She is acting like she doesn't feel well the last few days. She is acting more tired then she has been and wants to be cuddled a lot more then usual. She also has been having a little shortness of breath. She didn't act like this with her 1st litter, she almost never left them for more then a few minutes. I took her to the vet and he looked her over and said she was fine and that this is normal. Is this normal? Should I take her to a new vet?
Yes take her. How long between litters?
My Pit Bull had ten puppies six weeks ago and I need to help her dry up her milk. What could we use to help her?
6 week old puppies are too young to wean. They can develop personality disorders if weaned too early. If you need to wean for medical reasons, check with your Vet for what to feed the puppies. They will require a special diet. Otherwise let the mother wean her puppies when she feels the time is right.
My Shih Tzu has 5, 2 week old puppies. The last couple of nights she wanders from the room where the puppies are to our room and cries. We pick her up and she will sleep for a short period and cry to go back to the puppies. She's been doing this all night and I'm exhausted. She is a really good mom and feeds them and takes care of them and she's eating and drinking well. She always slept with us so I'm thinking she misses us maybe. What can I do to get some sleep?
By Peggy Mac
We have an American Bulldog and this is her first litter. She used to get on the couch when we were away, but she is not allowed on it normally. When we got home one day, she was up on the couch, and going into labor. We transferred her to the whelping box, with plastic, a table cloth and sheets underneath for some comfort. It is winter here, so heating lamps are on for warmth. Today, my husband came into the room, and she was moving all the puppies to the couch. I believe she may be uncomfortable, I just don't know how to make her comfortable and not have something bad happen to the puppies. They are now 5 days old. Thank you anyone that can help.
By Jean from Jacksonville, FL
I personally suggest that you get a kiddie swimming pool take a blanket and rub that blanket all over your couch that your dog seems to love so much then lay that blanket into the pool. Your dog will smell the couch on the blanket and then maybe enjoy it and you both will be happy. Remember a dog lives by his nose.
Last night my 2 year old mixed dog had her first litter of puppies. All day she has been feeding them and curled up with them. She came out to eat and now when she went back into her dog house she's not curling up with them she has her back to them. She hasn't been really acting like herself today either. Is this normal?
By Belynda from Baton Rouge, LA
I respectfully disagree with "patches", if your dog only turns her back to her new puppies on occasion. She's been through an experience she has never known and is tired, tired, tired after giving birth. If she continues to ignore her puppies, consistently, of course you need to take action. If she merely wants a few hours sleep while still sharing space with her pups, she's just plain pooped and needs a break.
By all means, call your vet if you suspect the puppies are being totally ignored, but give the girl a break if she just wants to sleep for a few hours. With all due respect, I just don't agree with "patches" that a dog needs to be "evaluated by a vet" mere hours after giving birth as she still sleeps with her puppies but simply chooses to not expose her food supply for a few hours.
Bottom line, it's your call. If you think the puppies are being totally ignored of course you need to contact your vet. If the mom just decides to sleep with her back to the pups for a few hours, I suspect she needs the rest and the puppies will be just fine resting with her. Again, just make sure she tends to the pups on a regular (although not necessarily clock work) schedule. Good luck and best wishes.
My Miniature Schnauzer just had her first littler of puppies, 6 in total :) They are 4 days old. She is feeding them, however she just lays there barely moving and does not really clean them. To me she looks a little shocked. She is eating and drinking and is not rejecting the puppies, she is just not interacting with them at all. I'm getting concerned.
By Joanne M 
This is a concern. The mother dog MUST clean the puppies in order to stimulate their bowels. If they can't poop they'll die.
A mother dog should be nuzzling and cleaning the puppies often. It sounds like your dog is sick or in pain.
A couple of things:
If a placenta is stuck inside the dog she's in big trouble. There alspo could be a uterine or milk gland infection.
Take the dog to the vet for a complete exam. Do it tomorrow morning.
My long hair Chihuahua had one pup. She is 11 days old. How can you tell if mama is not making milk? She looks like she has milk, but she's got small teats. The pup is very healthy and fat. Thank you.
If the pup is healthy looking and fat, she's fine. There's more milk there than you realize, and this one pup is getting it all. If the pup were not being properly nourished it would squeak, grunt, and root all the time. If its tummy is rounded and it spends lots of time sleeping contentedly, you've got no worries!
My 2 year old Shih Tzu gave birth to her first litter of 5 puppies a day and a half ago. We counted placenta for each one, they were all there, but she carried on panting while feeding. I spoke to the vet and they were quite happy and said when the puppies feed it still contracts the tummy slightly so that is why she could be panting. Today she is still slightly panting, but when the puppies cry, she gives a little cry too. She is eating and drinking, but doesn't leave the puppies. I pick her up to take her outside to do her business, she doesn't like leaving them very much, but I was just wondering if any of this sounds normal?
By Emma F. 
This is my first experience with having pups, I stayed with her through labor and 24 hours after. I haven't slept because I'm kinda nervous to leave her alone with her pups. Is it safe to leave them with her while I go to bed for a few hours? She is nursing, cleaning, and loving on them very well.
By Alana A. 
My Chi, Bella, gave birth to two pups on 6-13-15. She is such a doting mom and only leaves them for short periods of time to potty or to come in and snuggle for a bit and then back she goes. She is nursing just fine and they do not act hungry. The only problem I'm having is that Bella refuses to now drink water out of a bowl. I have to syringe it to her and she will gladly take it only then.
As for eating,she will do that, but only if I hold the bowl close to her in the box. I do not put it down and leave it cuz of the pups. I do keep fresh water and food outside her box too, but she won't touch it. So I'm going in every 3-4 hrs during the day offering her water and food so she can keep her strength up and milk supply up. She is getting plenty of protein and carbs (uncooked liver, chicken, egg hash with (eggs, meat, canned puppy food and mr mixed in), canned puppy food, rice and spaghetti, and dry puppy food (which she does not care for) and the water. I am syringe giving it to a small salad bowl. Yes it takes awhile, but I don't care,she is worth it.
She and the pups do have a vet appointment, but not till this Thursday the 24th. I am just wondering, has anyone else experienced this?
Odd I didn't see this question until now.
Your dog is nervous to leave her puppies. She is stressed. You are constantly interfering which is going to make that stress worse. She needs peace and quiet, and she needs you away from her puppies.
Dogs, even nursing mothers, do not require food every three to four hours. They require food about twice a day.
You are probably way overfeeding her. She is producing milk right now, but only for two puppies. She can't possibly need all that you're giving her. Certainly she doesn't need two meats, puppy chow, canned food, egg, rice and pasta all in the same day. Why would you even feed her spaghetti? Goodness. That isn't even food for dogs. It's good that to care for your pet but you are way overdoing it.
Unless the vet finds something really wrong, like an infection, I'd suggest leaving the food and water next to her box. She'll smell it and should eat when she gets hungry. I'd suggest only one type of meat daily mixed with dog kibble she likes. Or go with the canned food. As much as you love your dog, she will probably feel more like eating if you stop hovering.
Is it OK for me to give raw meat to my breastfeeding Labrapit? What would be the best foods for me to give to her and her pups?
I have a Pit Bull dog, mother of 6. This is her first litter and I've never seen this before after 10 years of breeding dogs. She has 2 nipples that seem to be holding milk and not releasing the milk while the puppies are feeding. This looks very painful for her. Can anyone tell me what this is, why this is happening, or what's causing this to happen?
What do I do with a Pit that has 14 nursing puppies? They're 3 weeks old and she's getting mean to them and trying to wean them. She looks like a skeleton and looks extremely tired and stressed. Please help.
First, to answer your question:
Your dog has fourteen lives dependent on her for nutrition. They are literally sucking the nutrition straight out of her body. All the food is going to her milk production and none of it is going to her. Your dog is rejecting her puppies to save her own life.
First, nursing dogs require high-nutrition dog food. Don't just feed her more of the cheap stuff, that won't work. You'll get more waste (poop) but she won't get all the nutrition she needs out of it. Your dog needs special food for nursing mother dogs. You may have to feed it to her 4 or 5 times a day for a while.
Another problem you are having is that your dog has too many puppies. A dog has 8 to 12 nipples with 10 being the average. So your dog could be up to six nipples short. That means the biggest, strongest puppies are getting fed first and the little ones are getting what's left over. This means you'll need to provide supplemental feedings to the smallest puppies. You'll need puppy formula and tiny bottles. They'll need 2-4 supplemental feedings per day.
Hopefully when the pressure is off the mother and she doesn't feel like she's starving to death she won't continue to reject her puppies.
Now, I'd like to ask you a question- why are you breeding this dog? Is this a very valuable papered, pedigreed animal? And the father, too? Are you a licensed breeder? If not, consider that you've just endangered your dog by not having her spayed. Some of the puppies may also not survive. If this is a housepet, there is no reason to breed her and every reason to have her spayed. Just because friends or neighbors want puppies is no excuse. And never sell or give pit puppies to people you don't know personally- not even a "friend of a friend." That's how they end up tearing each other to pieces in vicious dog fighting rings. I'm certain you didn't think of where you were going to find fourteen good, loving homes for these puppies to live the rest of their lives. Please have your dog spayed as soon as she's weaned her pups.
Why does my dog keep carrying her puppies to me?
I have one day old puppies. I helped their mother with suckling and giving them some milk too. The question is how many times do I suckle the puppies each day?
By Dina from Cairo
You will kill them if you interfere. Mom suckles her pups. Cows milk kills. If Mom rejects a pup numerous times you get formula from the vet or a really good pet store. Never take the pups from Mom until at least 6 weeks old. Mom needs good nutritious food to make milk. She also needs a spay soon as pups are placed. Get some help from someone who has been through the puppy thing. You mean well but could kill the pups by not letting Mom do her job. Leave the pups with Mom. Mom knows what to do. Mom needs to be in the house where it is warm, good food and water, a cozy bed for her and the pups. She will even lick their bottoms otherwise they do not pass urine and feces. They die if they don't get to pass excretement. Keep us posted.
My dog just gave birth 12 hours ago to 8 pups. She keeps laying on them and she never seems to notice or care, so we move them away from under her and put them near her teats or with the rest of the litter. We don't have a whelping box, and we all work four hours a day, and I'm afraid to leave momma with the pups because I don't want her to smother them by mistake. What should I do?
Also, I have another dilemma, we have to move in two weeks. We didn't expect the pups to be born until after we moved, (pre-mature) and we have no idea how to move mom and puppies safely and comfortably. We also have a cat and the daddy dog, but we are keeping him away from the pups for now. What should I do?