When your dog is pregnant, there are a lot of things to consider. Choosing appropriate and comfortable bedding for the mother, her future puppies, and the birth are all important. The best bedding for whelping box use is something disposable since things will get a bit messy. Newspaper is a good option since it can be changed multiple times and is inexpensive. A thin blanket can be added for warmth.
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Select bedding that is easy to change after the puppies are born. Something fitted or structured is ideal so it can be removed quickly while keeping the mess contained. You'll want to consider the price you're willing or able to pay for a potentially one-time-use linen. Comfort and temperature are also things to keep in mind.
Choosing a whelping box
A whelping box or bed is an enclosed, safe, and clean area for your dog to go when she's ready to give birth. Think of it like a den where her puppies will come into the world and spend most of their time until they are weaned. She may spend time there toward the end of her pregnancy as well to get comfortable with the space.
There are plenty of different whelping boxes that you can buy for your dog, ranging from $250 to $800. Look for one that's approximately 10 inches larger than your pet's crate. This size provides adequate space but still keeps the mother dog and puppies comfortable and offers ease of temperature control. There should be an edge low enough for the mother to easily get out as needed but that the newborn puppies will not be able to bypass.
If you're handy and enjoy do-it-yourself projects, consider making your own whelping box. This is a more affordable option. Cardboard or wood are good materials to use or a laundry basket or kids' pool can work as the base. Your veterinarian can help guide you on the size and structure that will be best for your dog.
Where to place a whelping box
After you buy or make the box, consider where you'll put it. Since the box acts as a safe den for a dog getting ready to give birth, choosing the right spot for it is important. The mother dog and puppies will do best in a quiet area without other dogs or animals around since very young dogs who are not yet eating food are sometimes mistaken by older dogs as prey.
Best bedding for a whelping box
Washable, dark-colored bedding that is soft and padded or disposable liners are the best budget bedding for a dog giving birth. Vet bedding, while more expensive, is thick, washable, soft, and reusable, so it's a good choice to consider if there will be more puppies born in the future.
Wood shavings and straw are not good choices for newborn puppies since they can hold bacteria and pose a choking risk to very young dogs. Line the whelping box with layers of newspaper that can be easily switched as each puppy is born since keeping things as sanitary as possible is crucial.
Paper is a good choice of bedding for puppies who are young since it prevents them from getting tangled unlike some fabrics, and it is very absorbent on its own. Acrylic bedding can be placed on top of the newspaper to keep the puppies warm if needed. You'll also want to have a stockpile of clean sheets and towels available, and you can drape a blanket above to give your dog more privacy and keep the space insulated.
Comfortable beds for pregnant dogs
Before she needs the whelping box, you'll want to keep your pregnant dog comfortable throughout her gestation. Provide her with gentle exercise, such as short walks, after the first two weeks as well as a nutritious diet and plenty of fresh water. Dogs will gain weight during pregnancy and have an increased appetite. They will also feel more fatigued.
The best bed for a pregnant dog is both supportive and soft so she can sleep with ease. Look for something that will give her extra room and consider placing it in the box to get her familiar with the whelping space.
- American Kennel Club: The Perfect Place for the Whelping Box
- Emergency Vets USA: What Is A Whelping Box
- Breeding Business: What Is the Best Bedding For a Dog Giving Birth? And For a Litter of Newborn Puppies?
- American Kennel Club: Best Practices for Whelping & Caring for Newborn Puppies
- American Kennel Club: Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Care, and Preparing for Puppies
- VCA Hospitals: Breeding for Pet Owners - Whelping in Dogs