What Are The Different Stages Of Whelping in Dogs?

Is your female pet dog about to give birth? This can be an exciting time for you. After all, who doesn’t like pups?! However, the birthing process can also sometimes be quite tricky and complicated, and there are ways that you can assist your dog during it.

What Is Whelping?

Whelping is the term used to describe when a female dog gives birth. The entire process can last between 3 and 24 hours. A typical pregnancy in a female dog is between 58-68 days. So you can be prepared in advance.

How to Prepare For Whelping?

You will need the following supplies to assist with the whelping process:

  • A whelping box
  • A warm and quiet location
  • Towels to dry the pups up
  • A pair of scissors
  • A haemostat to clamp the umbilical cords
  • A separate box with a covered heating pad for the pups
  • Lubricating jelly
  • Disposable gloves
  • A weighing scale to weigh the pups

To assist your dog in the whelping process and ensure everything goes smoothly and in a sanitary way, it’s a good idea to order a whelping box or a whelping kit that includes everything you will need. Petnap are trusted stores that have been around for decades and can provide you with everything you need for a successful whelping experience.

What Are The Stages Of Whelping?

Whelping occurs in three stages; it’s quite similar to that in humans.

Stage 1

During this stage, the female dog prepares to go into labour. She might refuse to eat and will look for a quiet and safe place to go to. It is a good idea to introduce a whelping box to her a few days before and place it in a warm and quiet place in the house. Her rectal temperature might drop to about 98 or 99 degrees Fahrenheit, and she may become very restless. Milk may start to leak out of her teats, and there may be a gelatinous clear or bloody discharge from her birth canal as her cervix opens up.

Stage 2

This is the actual birthing stage, where the female dog delivers the first pup and the placenta. She usually licks and chews the amniotic sac at this stage and also chews off the placenta. She will then prepare to push the second pup out and the placenta and repeat the process. It is best to let nature take its course and let the mama dog whelp her babies naturally. If you notice her struggling or the labour process taking too long, that’s when you should step in to assist her.

Stage 3

This is the stage when all the pups and placentas have been expelled out. The mama dog eats the placentas and usually has a 30-minute interval between each birth. She goes on to lick and nurse her babies during this stage. It is important to ensure that the number of placentas coincides with the number of puppies. No placenta should be left inside as this can be a potential source of infection for the mother dog.

How To Know When The Mama Dog Is About To Give Birth?

You can watch out for certain signs to know when your bitch is about to give birth:

  • Drop in body temperature from 100 degrees to 99 or 98 degrees
  • Restless pacing
  • Digging
  • Vomit
  • Uterine contractions

Complications during Whelping

Most births go very smoothly, but sometimes certain problems may arise that dog parents should be aware of as they can be potentially dangerous and life-threatening for the puppies and the mama dog.


This is when the pregnant dog has been in labour for a long time and fails to give birth due to the puppy being stuck. This is an emergency and urgent veterinary intervention is required to save the pups and the mama dog.


This is caused by a drop in calcium levels and can also occur a few days or weeks after whelping. This is because the dog cannot regulate calcium levels in its blood and falls too low during the suckling period. It can cause her to suffer from tremors, fits and seizures and may even cause it to collapse. This emergency also requires immediate veterinary intervention to save her life.

Uterine Inertia

This is another condition in which the mama dog is unable to push even though the cervix opens. This can be triggered by a drop in calcium levels or exhaustion, but it also needs a veterinarian’s assistance.

Puppies Aren’t Nursing

The initial milk that leaves the mama dog’s teat is loaded with antibodies and is essential to protect the puppies from many illnesses. If one of the pups or all of them refuses to drink milk, they must immediately be rushed to the veterinarian.

Signs and Symptoms That the Labour Is Not Progressing As It Should

  • The pregnant dog has been straining for over an hour, and the pup hasn’t come out
  • If the gap between the first pup and second pup is more than 2 hours
  • If the mama hasn’t gone into labour even after her temperature dropped two days ago
  • The mama dog is looking exhausted and unable to handle the pain
  • Greenish discharge


Are you looking for a whelping box or a whelping kit? If yes, then look no further. Petnap have you covered for all the pet supplies you need. Petnap has been in the pet supplies manufacturing business since 1973 in the UK and has a fantastic range of whelping boxes, kits, heating pads and heating beds available in many different sizes and materials. They deliver worldwide and have a team of experts happy to assist and guide you should you have any queries.