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Pregnancy Guide: Prenatal Care, Whelping and Raising Puppies


So, your dog was in heat and successfully bred with a few ties. You can be pretty sure that you are having puppies. Even without a successful tie your dam could still be pregnant.


What to do now...

I strongly suggest reading lots of information and getting prepared.

• Keep an accurate record of first breeding.
• Go ahead and mark your calendar 56 days from the first breeding and highlight.

Plan the time to stay home and start taking temperature, etc. NEVER leave your dam alone after day 56, unless you are taking regular temperatures, including during the night, so you know she is not going into labor. Better yet, if you have to run out, take her with you

Do NOT feed calcium rich foods during pregnancy, ESPECIALLY in the last 10-14 days. Do NOT supplement with calcium during the time dams are pregnant. Some dams need the extra weight, and you can give puppy food, but stop the puppy food at least ten days before the expected whelp. Then after pups are born, go back to puppy food. This is needed for the uterus to contract properly.

Dams still need normal amounts of calcium in their diets, and they can get that with a good quality dog food. You can give them yogurt and cottage cheese, and if you feed raw, they get their raw chicken bones, but you must stop these calcium rich foods for the last ten days and do NOT supplement extra.

Extra calcium is given only after pups are born, and during active labor to help with contractions—this is another reason, other than for teeth and bone growth of pups, for giving calcium. Calcium during the pushing stage of labor will make the muscles contract at that specific moment.

*********** First week ***********

Fertilization: You may notice mild morning sickness and personality changes in the dam. Watch for vaginal infection from breeding. Some dams will have a pink discharge, like a very light period.

Suggestions: (Remember, take your vets advice always over anything you read on the Web.)

• Keep feeding as you were (hopefully high-end foods)

A recommended food additive (approximately 25%) mix to high-quality kibble, is tripett: pronounced “tri-pet" - green tripe - a premium, all natural pet food made from only the highest quality green tripe. Green tripe is filled with digestive enzymes and promotes good overall health among other things.

• Keep exercising as you were. (Hopefully she has been exercised and in good shape prior to mating. If not, start moderate daily exercise.)

Do not give any medications without vet approval. If you did not worm her prior to mating (which is standard), then get a mild wormer that is made for pregnant dams. Stop flea treatments and any other insecticides. Do NOT give any live vaccinations.


*********** Second week ***********

Days 7 to 14

Between days 7 and 14, the cell will start being a four-cell, and will then separate into 64 cells. At this time the embryos enter the uterus.

(same care and suggestions as week one)


************ Third week *********

Days 14 to 21

On about day 18-20, the embryos will implant in the uterus.

(same care and suggestions as week one)


************ Fourth week **********

Days 21 to 28

Vet can palpate (feel) and possibly detect pregnancy  between days 27 and 31(after day 32, fluids increase to protect pups and making palpating not possible).

• Fetuses grow from 5-10mm to 14-16mm, faces take shape, eyes and spinal cords develop

• At this stage the embryos are most susceptible to defects and it is said that eating a toxic substance at this stage can cause eyes to not form properly, or cause cleft palate. Fact or fiction, I am not sure. The mode of inheritance for many congenital defects and genetic defects is still unknown. But for the sake of your dam and pups, make sure your environment is a safe one.

• The dam may have a clear, odorless vaginal discharge, and her teats may begin to develop.


• Limit working dogs and refrain from strenuous activity like jumping and long runs. For small companion dogs, slightly reduce activity, especially in agility.

• Some like to add 1/4 cup of cottage cheese and 1 scrambled egg every other day. Or mix them together and add a tbsp to the food daily

• I like to start a vet-recommended multivitamin at this stage, but do not give calcium pills. The dam needs to build up her own reserves still. You do NOT want to put her parathyroid gland to sleep by giving an abundant supply of calcium.


************ Fifth week ************

Days 28 to 35

At this time the fetuses begin to look like dogs; their toes, whiskers and claws all are developing. They have become boy and girl puppies, eyes that were open now close. (When eyes are developing in the uterus, the eyes are developed in an open position and then they close and remain closed until about ten days old or so.)

Embryos are MUCH more resistant to development problems.

The dam's weight will begin to increase, and swelling will begin to be noticeable. If you have given a maternity haircut, swelling will be easier to see.


• Increase food slightly and start change over to puppy kibble gradually. Feed morning and evening and start with a healthy lunch snack, including a multivitamin and an optional 1/2 egg every day for small breeds or full egg every day for large breeds.

You CAN do an ultrasound at this time, if you wish.

*********** Sixth week ***********

Days 35 to 42 (Pregnancy should be obvious)

Puppies become colored (skin pigment develops), the dam’s nipples darken and grow, and tummy continues to swell: ''Swelly Belly"


• If you haven't yet...start adding cottage cheese and an egg. Continue with multivitamin, but not calcium supplement yet.

• Increase food to the maximum she will eat.

• Whelping area and box (see whelping) should be put up in a quiet area (not the kitchen if active) and she should be encouraged to sleep there. For an active kitchen the whelping box can be moved to the kitchen when pups are 3 weeks old. (Large breeds at 2.5 to 3 weeks, and toy breeds at 3.5 to 5 weeks).


Dam in Whelping Box (design MistyTrails Havanese)
Whelping box should be big enough for your dam to stretch out in, and have a doorway to go in and out. You do not want your dam to have to JUMP in and squish a puppy. Whelping box should have a guardrail to help eliminate suffocation and trapping behind dam (see photo of guardrail).


Guard rail inside whelping box - (design MistyTrails Havanese)

Guardrail inside whelping box (design, MistyTrails Havanese)

Whelping Box Removable Front - (design MistyTrails Havanese)

Also, if the whole front of your whelping box is removable, then this makes whelping WAY easier. (design, MistyTrails Havanese).

Corner of the Whelping Box - (design MistyTrails Havanese)

Corner of the whelping box (design, MistyTrails Havanese)


*********** Seventh week ***********

Days 42 to 49

Developed puppies continue to grow. Dam will start shedding her tummy hair. If you haven't shaved your dam you may start finding lots of hair on the carpets.


Increase food...avoid home-cooked unbalance foods. Try to make her eat a balanced diet, not just meat. But if your dam starts getting fussy, doctor up her meals with cooked chopped beef heart, liver, chicken hearts etc.... Some extra meat is good...too much can cause problems.

Stop all rough play and jumping.

At the end of this week, days 48 to 50, take the dam off of the puppy food and put her back on regular kibble. You can change gradually over a couple days, but you have to limit the calcium intake you are feeding so the dam's body goes into store calcium mode.


*********** Eighth week ***********

Day 49 to 57

When the dam is resting you can sometimes see and feel the pups moving. Pups can be born at any time now, but keeping them in for another week is much healthier, so avoid rough play.

But >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> BE PREPARED

pups could be born at any time!!!!!!!????????

Milk may be squeezed from the nipples by the end of the week. Some dams can get milk (colostrum) as early as day 45, but normally they do not.


Call your vet to book x-rays to determine size and number of pups. I like to do this on day 56 (54 to 58), but all vets differ, so call and ask. Also call and inform of dam’s due date.

Gather Whelping Kit, and gas up your vehicle.

Give the dam NO calcium, no puppy kibble, no raw bones, no sardines, no cottage cheese or cheese, or calcium pills this week. She will get an ample amount in her regular kibble. If she is really fussy, and you feed Eukanuba kibble, try the canned version, but not the puppy version. Many dams in the last week are fussy, and will eat the canned food.


*********** Ninth week ***********

Days 57 to 65

IT IS TIME >>>>>>>>> Are You Ready????

Nesting behavior may start or she may seek out a quiet area. Start taking her temperature three to five times a day.

Day 57 three times a day

Day 58 four times a day

Day 59 five times a day, and once middle of the nigh

Day 60 every hours during the day, and every four hours at night >>


MAKE SURE THE THERMOMETER is put in all the way each time, four inches inside the rectum using Vaseline.



Appetite may disappear.

Whelping: First Stage of Labor




Pregnant dog (left) not pregnant,(right) both dogs are Havanese


Courtesy of MistyTrails Havanese


So You Want to Breed Puppies

Pros and Cons of Inbreeding Dogs

Stages of Puppy Development

Whelping and Raising Puppies: Breeding age

Reproduction: (The Heat Cycle): Signs of Heat

Breeding Tie

Dog Pregnancy Calendar

Pregnancy Guide Prenatal Care

Pregnant Dogs

Pregnant Dog X-Ray Pictures

Full-Term Mucus Plug in Dog

Whelping Puppies

Whelping Puppy Kit

First and Second Stage of Dog's Labor

Third Stage of Dog's Labor

Sometimes Things do not go as Planned

Mother Dog Almost Dies on Day 6

Whelping Puppies Unfortunate Troubles

Even Good Moms Make Mistakes

Whelping Puppies: A Green Mess

Water (Walrus) Puppies

C-Sections In Dogs

C-Section Due to Large Dead Puppy

Emergency Cesarean Section Saves Pups Lives

Why dead puppies in utero often require c-sections

Whelping Puppies: C-section Pictures

Pregnant Dog Day 62

PostPartum Dog

Whelping and Raising Puppies: Birth to 3 weeks

Raising Puppies: Puppy Nipple Guarding

Pups 3 Weeks: Time to start potty training

Raising Puppies: Pups Week 4

Raising Puppies: Pups Week 5

Raising Puppies: Pups Week 6

Raising Puppies: Pups 6 to 7.5 Weeks

Raising Puppies: Pups 8 Weeks

Raising Puppies: Pups 8 to 12 Weeks

Whelping and Raising Large Breed Dogs

Mastitis in Dogs

Mastitis In Dogs: A Toy Breed Case

Why are Toy Breeds are Harder to Train?

Crate Training

Showing, Genetics and Breeding

Trying to Save a Fading Dachshund Puppy

Whelping and Raising Puppies Stories: Three Puppies Born

Whelping and Raising Puppies: All puppies do not always survive

Whelping and Raising Puppies: A Midwoof Call

Whelping and Raising a Full Term Preemie Puppy

Whelping Small for Gestational Age Puppy

C-Section on Dog Due to Uterine Inertia

Eclampsia is Often Fatal for Dogs

Hypocalcemia (low calcium) in Dogs

SubQ hydrating a Puppy

Whelping and Raising a Singleton Pup

Premature Litter of Puppies

A Premature Puppy

Another Premature Puppy

Pregnant Dog Absorbing Fetus

CPR Needed to Save One Puppy

Whelping Puppies Congenital Defects

Puppy with Umbilical Cord Attached to Foot

Puppy Born with Intestines on the Outside

Gone Wrong, Vet Makes it Worse

Dog Loses Litter and Starts to Absorb Puppies

Whelping Puppies: Unexpected Early Delivery

Dog whelps 5 days early due to dead pups

Lost 1 Puppy, Saved 3

An Abscess on a Puppy

Dewclaw Removal Done Wrong

Whelping and Raising Pups: Heat Pad Caution

Whelping and Raising a Large Litter of Dogs

Whelping and Raising Dogs While Working

Whelping a Messy Litter of Pups

Whelping and Raising Puppies Picture Pages

How to Find a Good Breeder

Pros and Cons of Inbreeding

Hernias in Dogs

Cleft Palate Puppies

Saving Baby E, a Cleft Palate Puppy

Saving a Puppy: Tube Feeding: Cleft Palate


Although this section is based on a whelping of an English Mastiff, it also contains good general whelping information on large-breed dogs. You can find more whelping information in the links above. The links below tell the story of Sassy, an English Mastiff. Sassy has a wonderful temperament. She loves humans and adores children. An all-around mild mannered, wonderful Mastiff, Sassy, however, is not the best mother toward her puppies. She is not rejecting them; she will nurse them when a human places them on her to feed, however she will not clean the pups or pay any attention to them. It is as if they are not her puppies. This litter is getting mom’s milk with major human interaction, manually giving each and every pup what they need. In return, the pups will be super socialized and will make remarkable pets, however the work involved is astounding. It takes one dedicated breeder to keep this situation healthy. Thankfully this litter has just that. Read the links below to get the full story. The pages within include a wealth of information that everyone can appreciate and benefit from.

C-Section in a Large Breed Dog

Newborn Puppies... What you need

Whelping and Raising Large Breed Puppies: 1 to 3 Days Old

Things do not always go as planned (imperforate anus)

Orphaned Litter of Pups (not the plan)

Raising Puppies 10 Days Old Plus +

Raising Puppies 3 Week Old Puppies

Raising Puppies 3 Weeks - time to start potty training

Raising Puppies 4 weeks old

Raising Puppies 5 weeks old

Raising Puppies 6 weeks old

Raising Puppies 7 weeks old

Socializing the Puppies

Mastitis in Dogs

Whelping and Raising Large Breed Dogs Main

Whelping and Raising Puppies, a new found respect


Whelping: Close-to-Textbook Case

Puppies' Progress Chart (.xls spreadsheet)

Cuban Mysti Puppies: Full Term Mucus Plug - 1

Cuban Mysti Puppies: Labor Story 2

Cuban Mysti Puppies: Labor Story 3

Cuban Mysti Puppies: One-Day-Old Pups 4

Easy Delivery a Day or Two Overdue


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