top of page

Managing a Dog’s First Litter

Handling a dog's first litter can be challenging, especially for first-time moms. They often need extra support and guidance to ensure a smooth birthing process and healthy puppies.

Helping a First-Time Dog Mom Give Birth

First-time dog moms often need reassurance and assistance. Nearly 45% of puppy losses occur with first-time mothers, but experienced breeders can prevent many of these losses by being proactive. New moms may not instinctively help their puppies find the nipple, so you can assist by positioning the puppies to nurse and ensuring they stay warm. Chilled puppies can quickly deteriorate due to dehydration, low blood sugar, and low oxygen levels, leading to death if not promptly addressed.

Managing Puppy Health

If a puppy becomes cold, warm them up immediately. Feed warm electrolytes to raise their blood sugar levels. Once their rectal temperature is over 94°F, feed them to maintain their blood sugar. Keep puppies warm until they are comfortable and sleeping normally. Return warm puppies to their mom, ensuring their body temperature is around 98°F. Use a rectal thermometer to check if they are ready.

Your role is to ensure that puppies eat, stay warm, and remain clean, dry, and content. Older moms generally care for their puppies from the start, while new moms may need a week to get into the nurturing routine.

Supporting a Pregnant Dog

Having the right equipment is key to a successful birthing experience. The whelping box should be in a location where the mom feels most comfortable. Move new moms to the whelping area two weeks before the expected delivery date to get them accustomed to the new space.

Tired moms don't care for their puppies well. Ideally, the birthing process should take no more than 12 hours. Going beyond 18 hours increases the risk of losing puppies. During labor, give moms calcium gel to aid in effective uterine contractions and quicker delivery.

Preparing for a Dog’s First Litter

Calm the nervous female during the first few days after birth. Herbal products like Chamomile or Motherwort can help. Pheromone collars may also be beneficial in calming anxious moms. These measures help first-time moms focus on nursing their puppies without excessive stress.

Expected Litter Size

The number of puppies in a litter varies widely, influenced by factors such as the breed and size of the dam, timing and type of breeding, semen quality, age and health of the dam, nutrition, and environmental conditions. Smaller breeds typically have smaller litters, while larger breeds can have up to 16 or more puppies.

Key Tips:

  • Ensure the whelping box is in a comfortable location for the mom.

  • Move new moms to the whelping area two weeks before delivery.

  • Use calcium gel during labor for effective contractions.

  • Calm nervous moms with herbal products or pheromone collars.

  • Monitor puppies to ensure they are warm, fed, and gaining weight.

For more information on how to help a pregnant dog through pregnancy and whelping, visit our website at

Dog’s First Litter
Dog’s First Litter


Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page