MARK WHITEHOUSE SAYS: The duration of a dog’s pregnancy is approximately nine weeks.

Some bitches can go over by a few days and if your bitch is having a big litter she can be a few days early. It’s therefore advisable to have her settled in a whelping area a few weeks beforehand.

The whelping box should approximately 4ft x 3ft, be 10 inches deep with a two inch diameter rail on the inside.

This rail should be fixed 3 inches high and 3 inches in from the sides as this will allow your bitch to lay out and stop any puppies that crawl around the back of her from being squashed against the sides – it provides an open cavity.

Always keep your bitch on a good quality food as this will help keep her in good condition throughout the pregnancy.

Small regular feeds will be more beneficial rather than one large feed.

Your bitch should begin to show at around six weeks as her stomach will begin to expand.

Keep your bitch up to date with worming and spray her for parasites as these could be past onto the new born puppies.

The bitch will usually start to show signs that she is going to whelp approximately 48 hours before.

She will probably go off her food and start to become restless, nesting behaviour will intensify and this will be accompanied by a lot of panting. Have plenty of paper at hand as this will help soak up most of the mess.

Some bitches will give out a loud cry when the first puppy is born, this is totally normal, and the remaining puppies will then probably be born at intervals of approximately one hour.

If your bitch goes over the hour and looks uncomfortable, don’t panic, but consult your vet if no further puppies have been born after two hours.

Once all the puppies have been born make sure that you keep the room temperature constant, warm, but without overheating.

Increase your bitch’s food to double quantity and ensure that she has plenty of fresh water. This is important, as this will help her produce more milk for her puppies.

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