Puppies. There’s nothing more adorable, right? Those beautiful eyes. Wagging tails. Simply magical! It’s easy to see why you may be considering breeding your dog. But have you also considered an important fact? Responsible breeding is a lot of hard work! As a pet parent, there are a number of steps you’ll need to undertake if you make the decision to breed your dog (for example, whether you need a license, how to register puppies & how to sell them safely). Today though, we’re going to break down some of the main considerations you’ll need to make for mothers-to-be and their puppies…

BEFORE BREEDING

Before you consider breeding your dog, you must ensure she is in the best possible condition. This is important to consider, not only for her health during pregnancy, but for the health of the unborn puppies. Will she be strong enough to carry them? Will any existing conditions be inherited? As a responsible breeder, will the puppies be an improvement on their parents? It’s worth being mindful of these points to ensure puppies are as healthy as possible. This avoids any future distress for you or for them. In any case, always speak with your vet before making the decision to breed your dog.

So you’ve had an informed discussion with your vet and they’ve given you the green light. Fantastic! But are you really prepared to undertake this journey with your dog? A lot of time, dedication and perseverance is required when breeding your dog. Do you have sufficient time to undertake this? There are also financial implications to consider e.g. if your dog needed an emergency caesarean. The Kennel Club provide an excellent check-list for you to consider.

SUPPORTING MUM-TO-BE

As with humans, your dog will go through a variety of body changes as she grows her puppies. Be mindful of this when considering the amount of exercise and food she needs and your dogs general wellbeing. In the days leading up to birth, she may feel a little distressed. Being aware of these changes and having sufficient time to support her are important considerations.

WHELPING BOX

When the time comes for the puppies to arrive, you’ll need to ensure you have a special whelping box / den for the mother to bring her puppies into the world. The whelping box needs to be secure and large enough for the mother to move around, but to also be within easy reach of her puppies. The aim of a secure whelping area is to protect the puppies during birth as well as keeping them safe when they start moving around.

Make sure you have the whelping pen set up well in advance of the mother going into labour. This allows her to feel comfortable and content when she does eventually start giving birth. Puppies can also arrive when you least expect them. Create a whelping box early ensures you’re prepared for all eventualities! There are lots of different materials you can use in a whelping box, from special mats to shavings. This largely depends on your preferences. Whichever you choose, you will need to ensure the whelping box is kept clean regularly.

WHELPING TIPS

Whelping can be a long experience. The mother should instinctively know what she’s doing, but be present, supportive and calm. As contractions start, you may wish to give her our homeopathic remedy, Caulophyllum 30C. This helps with contractions and aids the delivery as well. Another popular birth aid is Raspberry Leaf Tablets, which has been used for centuries to help dogs bring puppies into the world.

As tempting as it may be, only handle the puppies immediately afterwards if you suspect there’s a problem. Early intervention can make it difficult for the mother to bond with her puppies. Make sure you knowing the signs of potential complications. For example during whelping and once the puppies are delivered. This means you’ll be ready to spring into action, should the worst happen.

In the early stages, ensuring the puppies are kept warm and have good interaction with their mum is absolutely crucial. For example, ensuring they have space to feed properly and help them avoid being squashed. Having a well prepared whelping box gives the puppies the best chance of ensuring this occurs.

INTERACTION

Respecting the bond between mother and puppies is important, particularly at the beginning. As the puppies continue to grow, human interaction with the puppies also becomes important before they go to their new homes. This usually occurs around weeks 3-4. By preparing them as much as possible in your own home, you’re giving the puppies the best opportunity to settle and excel with their new pet parents. Show them new noises around the home and show them being around humans can be really enjoyable!

It may also be easy to focus all your attention on the puppies. Make sure you set some time aside to give the mother special attention too. Reassurance and guidance over the coming weeks are useful for any new mum. The same applies to mothers of puppies too.

HEALTH & VACCINATIONS

Keeping your puppies healthy is a big task in those first few weeks and months. Making sure they’re gaining sufficient weight and are growing properly are a big priority. Clearly identifying the puppies helps you to monitor their progress carefully and become aware if they need additional human intervention. For example, many pet parents make notes of distinguishing features or even add a coloured ‘collar’ to help identify each puppy.

Your vet will provide you with all the guidance you will need in terms of vaccinations, worming etc which need to begin at a young age. By protecting them at an early age, you’re giving the puppies the best chance to live a long and healthy life.

WEANING 

Weaning generally occurs around 40 days after birth. Puppies will need soft food to begin with, as they move from their mother’s milk to puppy food. This can be a rather messy experience, both in terms of feeding time and what comes afterwards! Any changes to a dog’s diet is likely to have an impact on their digestion initially. Adding some Dorwest Slippery Elm Tree Bark Powder can be ideal to add to their food. Not only does it soothe the digestive tract but it also helps to firm the puppies stools and increases absorption of the nutrients. It’s obviously really important for the puppies to retain as many nutrients as possible, as this helps them to continue to grow and thrive into adult dogs.

BREEDING YOUR DOG

Breeding your dog responsibly is no easy matter, but it’s evident the outcome can be a truly joyous experience if handled properly from the outset and beyond. Preparation is definitely your friend when it comes to breeding responsibly. There’s still a lot to consider when breeding your dog, so if you need further guidance, always speak with your vet and read all the advice from The Kennel Club.

Find out more about Dorwest Herbs and our herbal remedies for dogs to improve their general health. If you have any questions about your dog’s 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.