Everyone wants to do the right thing when thinking of breeding with their bitch and it is only natural you to be concerned that they are doing all you can to ensure the health of the mother and pups.  It certainly is very useful and reassuring to read up on what to expect, but really it is simple common sense that is the most important thing to bear in mind when taking care of the in-whelp bitch.

Wheatgerm oil

Try to plan ahead, even before the mating, by making sure that the bitch is in the best possible health before she is mated, as good general health will affect the overall fitness and robustness of the mother and her pups later on.

One of the more important elements in the diet of the bitch before mating is Vitamin E, often referred to as the ‘fertility vitamin’.  One of the best ways to give Vitamin E is by adding a daily dose of Wheatgerm Oil, either capsules or liquid, to the feed.  This has a high level of Vitamin E in a natural form which is easily taken into the system. 

Start giving Wheatgerm Oil from the first sign of the bitch coming into season, and on the day before mating and the actual day of mating, double the amount to give an extra boost in the system and so increase the chances of a successful mating.  This supplement should ideally be given to both dog and bitch.

It may also be a good idea to ask your vet about giving your dog folic acid.

Raspberry Leaf Tablets

Raspberry Leaf Tablets have been a part of herbal tradition as a birth aid for centuries and are still recommended by veterinary and healthcare professionals today to help reduce the likelihood of problems occurring during whelping.  They help tone the smooth muscle of the uteri to prepare it for whelping and should be started three weeks after mating and continued right through until one week after whelping. 

They are an especially good choice for bitches that may have experienced a difficult delivery in the past or if one is anticipated, but every in-whelp bitch will benefit from having Raspberry Leaf during this period. 

How to help and what to expect

• Exercise is important to keep the mum-to-be fit and healthy, but this shouldn’t be overdone. It will soon be apparent when she is feeling the burden of the growing pups and she will moderate her exercise herself. 

• The amount of food doesn’t need to be increased until around the sixth week of pregnancy.  This is when the pups really start to grow, and your bitch will therefore also begin to gain weight. 

• The kidneys are the body’s eliminators of waste and to keep them functioning well always make sure that a good supply of fresh clean water is available for the dog to help herself. 

• The gestation period for a dog is 63 days but healthy pups can be delivered any time from 58 to 68 days.  A few days before the birth the bitch may appear to be unsettled, sometimes shredding up her bedding and trying to make a nest.  This is quite common and no cause for concern – a little reassurance is all that is required of you. 

• It is very common for her to refuse food from 24 hours before the birth and she should not be forced to eat, just give water with a little honey added for energy.  It’s a good idea to stay near her around this time so you can keep an eye on matters.

• When contractions start it can be a worrying time for the owner who’s overseeing their first whelping, and the most important thing is to be calm and to try not to fuss unduly. 

• This is the time to start giving the homoeopathic remedy Caulophyllum 30C as this helps contractions and aids the actual delivery.  Keep a close eye on a bitch while she is whelping, especially if it is her first litter, but don’t interfere too much unless she appears to be in difficulties.

If there is any sign of a problem, ring the vet for advice but remember that most bitches self-whelp successfully and all they require from you at this time is moral support and a confident and reassuring manner.


Find out more about Dorwest Herbs and our herbal remedies for dogs to improve their general health. If you have any questions about the best ways to ensure your dog gets the best diet, one of our experienced advisors would be happy to help. Please get in touch on 01308 897272 or use our contact form. Plus, get free UK delivery on orders over £50.

Please remember, you should always consult a vet if you are concerned about your pet’s health.