Need A Whelping Box? Let’s Make This Easy.
Imagine you were pregnant. The good news is you wouldn’t be giving birth in a whelping box!
But if you were pregnant, as your body got heavier and your delivery date inched closer, what would you hope your delivery room would look like and offer in terms of comfort?
You would probably want some privacy. You would want the room to be warm and draft-free. You would hope for a comfy place to rest before, during and after the birth. And you would likely be grateful for some social support and the assistance (if needed) of a trained health professional.
Your pregnant dog may not be able to put these requests into words, but even in the wild, mama dogs giving birth can be seen to seek out a private, comfy and secure burrow, hole or hiding area to whelp. And when the mama returns with her pups, her pack frequently pitches in to help her care for them.
You can provide the same comforts for a dog giving birth under your care by buying or making her a whelping box. In this post, we will take a look at what a whelping box is, what it has to offer and why it is so important.
When to Have Your Whelping Box Ready
Because your dog is a pet and is under your care, thankfully you can provide her with something more sanitary and hygienic than a burrow or hole in the ground!
And with a nearly 2-month stretch of time being the average for dog pregnancy (58 to 68 days), you have plenty of time to prepare.
However, there is no better moment than now to start, since there is no reliable way to tell for sure how long is a dog’s pregnancy in any individual case!
Why You Need (Yes, NEED) A Whelping Box
If this is your first time assisting your dog with whelping, there is no doubt you feel like you have a steep learning curve to master!
Of everything you can do to prepare for whelping, however, provision of a suitable whelping box is arguably the most important item on your to-do list.
This is because a properly outfitted whelping box can be a life saver. The whelping box safeguards the health of your dog as she waits to whelp and can save the lives of her puppies as she begins to care for them.
Perhaps most importantly, the whelping box will give your dog the privacy, warmth, security and safety she needs to stay as calm as possible before and during whelping. After all, even though your dog is domesticated and may even be your pet, she still has all her wild instincts intact. Those instincts instincts will prompt her to seek out the exact qualities a whelping box will provide. If she can’t find what she is looking for, it may interfere with the ease of the whelping process and the health of the puppies.
So there is no way to understate the importance of providing a whelping box for your mama dog’s use at least 3 weeks prior to her whelp date. Read on to learn more about what your dog’s whelping box needs to offer.
This is a critical aspect in particular for turtles and terrapins who require water-based habitats. Setting up a 5-gallon aquarium might seem like no big deal, but what happens when your turtle is a foot long and needs a 50-gallon aquarium? At this point, your challenges move from simple cleaning and water filtration to more serious issues of aquarium size and weight.
Whelping Box Must Haves
The ideal whelping box will provide certain key comforts as well as an extra layer of safety for both mom and her puppies.
Here are the basic components of the ideal whelping box:
- A damp-resistant material (wood, melamine, rubberized plastic or dog crate material).
- High walls to prevent air drafts and puppy escape after whelping.
- A roomy entry and exit area for your dog to come and go as needed.
- An enclosure that is longer than your dog is when she lays out flat.
- An enclosure that is wide enough for your dog to lay down on her side with all of her puppies nursing beside her.
- A soft bottom area inside the box.
- An inner rail (called a “pig rail”) to prevent the puppies from being injured if the mother accidentally rolls over or steps on them.
- Soft and cushy bedding (puppy pads, shredded newspaper and/or towels are ideal).
- A plastic tarp to spread underneath and around the whelping box.
- A waterproof heat pad and/or heat lamp.
- A sheet or blanket to drape over the whelping box for privacy and warmth.
Buying a Whelping Box
If you want to buy a whelping box instead of making one yourself, you can definitely buy one. There are a lot of benefits to just outright buying one instead of building one. If you are only having one litter, they are pretty easy to sell. Just search “whelping boxes for sale” on Google and you’ll see what I mean.
The nicest part about the MagnaBox whelping box is that the surface is super easy to clean and is resistant to bacteria or contamination because it’s a smooth surface. Revival Animal Health has tons of good products on Amazon in addition to whelping boxes.
Building Your Own Whelping Box
While it is possible to buy whelping box kits online, these can be expensive and may or may not have the right dimensions to match your dog’s length and girth.
Plus, it is very easy to make your own whelping box, which will be cheaper and perfectly serviceable! You can find lots of floor plans online to accommodate any size dog box.
Here are the basic supplies you will need:
- Visqueen (or other plastic sheeting) for under and around the box.
- Plastic-coated wood, corrugated plastic, plywood or laminate panels for the sides (unless you have a suitable box, crate or gate structure you plan to use).
- Hinges and screws or nails to put the walls together and hinge the entry/exit gate.
- PVC pipe + PVC elbows to make the interior pig rails.
- Whelping and puppy pads (washable is extra-nice!)
- Extra disposable puppy pads or newspapers (for your dog to shred to make her “nest”).
- Waterproof heating pad.
- Ceramic heat bulb (if desired) with suitably rated lamp hood.
In conclusion, what is most important to remember here is that the whelping box does not need to be fancy. It just needs to meet your dog’s needs on whelping day and serve as a refuge for her as she cares for her newborn puppies.
Things Other Than A Whelping Box You Might Want