Learn to prepare your house so that your dog has a comfortable and safe birth, and how you can make her litter start life in the best possible way.
If your dog is pregnant, you can opt for a home birth instead of taking her to the vet. If so, you have to do several things before the big day arrives so that you have the peace of mind that your dog and her puppies are as healthy as possible.
Although you may want to have a home birth, it is important to have a veterinarian whom you can call if complications arise. His experience is invaluable, and he can help all puppies be born safely.
You must reserve a specific area in your house so that your dog can give birth. It is important that this area is well prepared so that the mother feels comfortable and without stress, and that the puppies have the best possible start. Some things to keep in mind:
The delivery box for your dog.
It must be of a non-porous material, easy to clean and the right size for your dog and her litter. Cover the base of the box with materials that maintain heat and can be removed for easy cleaning: towels, sheets or newspapers are ideal. If your dog weighs more than 15 kg, place rods 10-15 cm from the floor and from the sides of the box to prevent the mother from crushing the puppies when she lies down.
Essential factors for home birth: heat, humidity and air
Newborn puppies can lose body heat and become dehydrated easily. Therefore, it is essential to maintain the birth zone with the proper temperature and humidity. Use containers with water or a humidifier to keep the place with 65-70% humidity, and a radiation or infrared lamp to give heat.
The first four days of a puppy’s life, the ambient temperature should be maintained between 29.5 and 32 ° C. After this time, the temperature can be gradually reduced to 26.7 ° C after seven or ten days, and again to 22.2 ° C at the end of the fourth week of the puppies’ life. The delivery box should also be in a well ventilated area, but without drafts or very suffocating.
Take care of your dog’s birth hygiene at home
The birth area must be kept in strict hygiene conditions. This means limiting the number of people who pass it and disinfecting it and cleaning it frequently. Take care of your personal hygiene before entering this area and, before taking your dog to the delivery area, wash it or brush it to eliminate as many parasites or bacteria as possible.
Take your dog to the birth zone
To ensure that the dog feels relaxed at the time of delivery, it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with the birth area one or two weeks before the expected due date. To avoid infections, do not allow other adult animals to come in contact with either the dog or the birth area, and make sure that the area is comfortable for you
After the birth of your dog at home
Puppies are very vulnerable during the first three weeks of life. In particular, the first 48 hours can be a decisive factor for its development to continue in a healthy way. Lack of oxygen and infections are the biggest risks during childbirth. Therefore, it is important to follow the advice mentioned above to prepare the place of delivery and reduce the risks.
After a trouble-free delivery, you can provide the litter with the best possible start in several simple ways.
Try to get the pups to hook and suck their mother as soon as possible after birth. Instead of milk, the litter ingests colostrum, a substance produced by the mother that strengthens and improves the puppy’s immune system. Colostrum should be taken during the first 12 to 16 hours of life, therefore, it stimulates newborns to breastfeed immediately.
It is recommended to weigh puppies regularly to get a general idea of their status and evolution. A veterinarian should examine puppies that do not gain weight or begin to lose weight as soon as possible. You should also identify puppies with low birth weight so they can control and care for them.
If the birth weight is low, due to a higher metabolism or other factors, the puppy loses heat and energy more quickly. Puppies are born with only 1-3% of their mother’s weight. It is considered a low birth weight to anyone in the lower quartile of your dog’s breed.
If done correctly, a home birth can help your dog feel relaxed during labor. Your mission is to prepare your home carefully, and offer the puppies the care they need in those first decisive days.