Dogs can typically give birth without human intervention. However, there are ways that owners can help.
In order to help a dog give birth without adding unnecessary stress or intervention, take the following steps.
- Prepare a whelping box
- Add a heat lamp
- Add newspaper to the whelping box
- Know the signs of labor
- Allow the dog to push the puppies out
The whelping box is imperative. It should be prepared ahead of time so that the dog can become accustomed to it. It should be large enough for the mother to stretch out, and it should be enclosed to keep puppies in but still accessible enough for the mother to be able to exit comfortably.
Cover a heat lamp with foil so that the light will not be too bright for the puppies and also to prevent physical contact with the hot lamp. Poke holes in the foil to allow heat to come through, and place the lamp near the whelping box.
Do not use wood shavings. Instead, line the whelping box with newspaper. As the newspaper becomes soaked, add additional layers.
A mother dog's body temperature will drop to less than 99 degrees Fahrenheit when entering the first stages of labor. Appetite loss and increased anxiety are also typical.
Once the sac is delivered for each puppy, the mother should remove the sac so that the puppy can breathe. If she does not, then gently remove the sac. The mother will also typically bite and separate the umbilical cord, but if she does not, clamp the cord and cut it. The dog may also eat the placentas that emerge after delivery. Allow her to eat one or two, but allowing her to eat too many may cause digestive issues.