5 Things to Know Before Raising a Litter of Puppies
My First LitterHelping a female dog through her pregnancy and raising a litter of puppies is an amazing experience you will never forget. But before you make this sort of commitment, there are things you need to know to ensure that your first time raising a litter is a positive and successful experience.
- Time Commitment Be sure you understand the "babies" require a lot more time than you think! You can't just whelp them out and say here you go. You have to be there for mom constantly the first two days then often during the first two weeks. Momma dog can't call her mom and ask, "Is this normal?" You have to be the go-to and assure her everything will be okay. After 48 hours, the mom usually has it under control and understands nursing. Your job at this point is to watch for any issues, make sure mom eats and that she has everything she needs to be comfortable raising her litter.
- Space Requirements Whelping boxes and weaning areas take up space depending on the size of breed.
- What Supplies Will I Need? Pregnant moms and new puppies need special care and safe supplies. Here is a list of some items that are must-haves when raising a litter:
From two to four weeks the load is lighter and you start weaning. Now it is time for vaccinating, deworming and making sure puppies stay on food when it comes time for weaning. A puppy's "juvenile delinquent age" is often described as the time period between weaning and 10 weeks of age. You must confine and supervise otherwise, like kids, they tear the home and yard apart!
If you do not want to commit time, leave raising puppies to the experts who have success. Most one-and-done breeders lose 60 percent of their litters. But don't worry, if you want to do this, we can help you one step at a time from breeding to the next home. Every age has its challenges, but our breeders lose less than 10 percent and some even have a five percent loss through all stages.
Once the litter is here, we need an area for mom and an area to wean the puppies. A kennel with a run is the best option.
Once the puppies are on the move, if you don't keep them confined to a certain area, they will terrorize your plants and anything else they can get a hold of! Eight Great Dane puppies will tear the house down at six weeks of age before they are old enough to go to a new home at eight weeks.
- Whelping Box- available in extra-small, small, medium, large and extra-large breed sizes.
- Safeguard Dewormer - give to mom after day 50 of pregnancy to prevent worms and giardia. It is also safe to give to puppies at six weeks and prior to selling.
- Nemex - give to puppies at two and four weeks to prevent roundworms and hookworms.
- Vitamins- for mom during pregnancy, while nursing and between cycles.
- Liquid Vitamin B and Iron Supplements- good for puppies during weaning and females between heat cycles.
- Oral Cal Plus - helps with contractions during whelping.
- Bulb Syringe - removes fluids from airway at birth.
- Saline - flushes nasal passages if the puppy is struggling with nursing. It's a sign they can't breathe!
- Kelly Forceps- use to clamp umbilical cord if needed and declaw at three days old.
- GI Synbiotics Gel- give to puppies on day two and three and/or for a full week if having an issue with puppy loss. It can also help during weaning.
- Chlorhexidine- a disinfectant that is safe around nursing puppies. It can be used for cleaning the area and for umbilical cords after birth.
- Cocci Guard- a good preventative for coccidia.
- Vaccines- Parvovirus and 5-way vaccine by the time puppies are seven weeks old. You want to prevent anything you can from the start.
- Wean Help- helps puppies during weaning time.
- Long-Lasting Penicillin - prevention when there is an injury or after birthing before they get an infection.
- Milk Replacer and Nursing Bottle - good idea to have on hand just in case mom needs help.
Many people lose a large percentage of the litter when they are not aware of the puppy's issues and when they are in trouble. We do not want you to have that experience. Always- always get the breed you love! Then it is not work to spend time with them.
You can find information on breed standards on breed clubs' websites, but nothing can replace a breeder showing you what they are looking for in replacement females and males. Once you find a breeder you trust, then you can ask for help and they will be sure you get quality you need. Remember, you're buying their success and genetics so be prepared for criticism of the puppy you "have to have".
Now that you know what it takes to raise a litter, it's time to educate yourself on how and when to breed your female. Our goal is to coach you through this experience without puppies being lost. If you have issues or just don't understand what is happening, call us at 800.786.4751. We have heard it before or seen it ourselves. We are here for you!
Don Bramlage, DVM, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
This is the first article in our My First Litter Series. The next few articles in the series talk about breeding and heat cycles, dog pregnancy stages and whelping. Be sure to check out all the articles in the My First Litter Series.
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.