What You Need for a Mama Dog

Planning on fostering a pregnant Mama dog? Here’s a list of what you might need:

* A few good resources on how to whelp puppies.

* A secluded room away from family commotion and other animals.

* A door that closes and nothing in it that you would mind getting ruined – including the door and walls.

* A floor that is easily cleaned with a bleach solution.

* A space heater that you can leave on all day and all night without fear of fires. Not one of those kinds that blows hot air. We have an oil one. You could also use a heat lamp. You need to keep the room at 85 degrees Fahrenheit for the first two weeks of the pups’ lives. They can’t control their own body temperature on their own until 4 weeks of age.

* An area for whelping, nursing, and eating, and a space far enough away from those for elimination (for those stray Mamas who weren’t house trained.)

* A plastic or wood “box” with sides high enough so little young pups can’t crawl out but older, bigger ones can. We use a small turtle sandbox – it is perfect. I’ve also heard of people using plastic swimming pools. With Bella I build a box that was too big and she hated it. Never used it.

* LOADS and loads of towels, sheets, comforters, blankets. You will be changing these in the nursing box at LEAST three times a day. As pups get older it will increase to more until they can get out of the “box” and then they will pee and poop on the floor, making cleaning of the sheets a twice daily affair.

* Paper towels, a spray bottle with bleach solution (very diluted you should hardly smell the bleach if at all), and plastic grocery bags. We ask Meijer and they’ve given us unused bags every time. Thank you Meijer!

our dog room

our dog room

* Newspapers!!! Once the pups can climb out of the box, the Mama will stop eating the poop and pee and you will get to clean it up. Papering the floor helps with that. Plan to change the entire floor papers at least three times a day, and more as they get older. Getting them used to eliminating on paper will help you – as they get older you can decrease the amount of flooring that is papered and they will tend to use the paper to eliminate and play on the unpapered part of the floor. However, with large litters plan to have poop and pee pretty much everywhere during those final two weeks (weeks 6-8). We get our papers free from the Elburn Herald. They give us their unused papers that would normally go to recycling. Thanks Elburn Herald!!

* Food and water bowls. Big ones for the Mama, many smaller ones for the pups. I like to have at least enough small bowls so only two pups need to share a bowl. Puppies start getting their teeth around four weeks and you will see the Mama wanting less and less of her nursing duties after that point. That’s when you begin to introduce solid foods. However, Bella’s pups were more advanced since there were so many of them and we began introducing “solid” foods at around 3 weeks. Every litter is different. A good way to judge is if the pups can’t stand up and hobble on their own they are too immature to eat solid foods.

* High quality puppy food and puppy formula. Begin the mama on both as soon as you determine she is well enough to tolerate this rich food. Keep the mama on both until the pups are completely weaned. I use wet and dry food for the mama, gradually getting her to only dry as she weans her pups. For the puppies I start out with a gruel of warm water and wet puppy food with formula. They walk in this and eat very little for the first few feedings but within days they get the hang of it and eat a lot. Make more than enough so everyone eats their fill and give the rest to the Mama. Feed pups three times a day that first week of eating and then as the Mama shortens the nursing time feed more often, until you’re feeding 6 times a day around 6 weeks of age. I also leave dry food out all night at about 5 weeks for those pups where are beginning to use their new teeth. Do not be in a rush to wean the pups, the Mama will do this fast enough, but make sure you are getting enough nutrition into them. If they eat a bit and leave a bit you’ve hit the right balance.

* Large plastic garbage bags. I fill one of this up each time I change the papers in the room. Each time. You will need a lot of these. Also get yourself some disposable latex gloves. When the pups are eliminating all over the floor you will want one of these on your hands as you clean up the dirty papers.

* A good worming medicine. I use one I get from the vet. I wouldn’t recommend over the counter wormers. It is too important to get the dosage right and to make sure you get those round worms. Every litter I’ve whelped has had worms. Even pups born to good homes can have worms. Just worm them to be on the safe side. I start worming at two weeks and continue every two weeks until they go to their new homes. They should continue to be wormed even after 8 weeks.

* A good veterinarian who is willing to take a LOT of phone calls. I called my vet nearly every day with my first litter and plan to call soon with this one. H.E.L.P. uses Gateway Veterinary Hospital. Thanks to the folks at Gateway in St. Charles Illinois!!

* A video camera. You will want to record all of the fun. It is over so fast.

November 21, 2008 • Tags: , • Posted in: nutrition, pups, whelping

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