How To Care for Female Dogs After They've Had Puppies

New mother dogs need time to heal and recover after birth.

New mother dogs need time to heal and recover after birth.

Aside from a clean whelping box in a nice quiet location, your dog usually will not need much help to give birth to those adorable little puppies. She will need rest to regain her strength and heal, so make life as easy as possible for her to help her recover.

Watch the mother dog for signs that her labor and delivery are over. Delivery times and litter sizes can vary, so a long period of inactivity after the birth of a puppy is normal. You will know all puppies have been born when the mother dog seems calmer and more relaxed, and shows no additional signs of straining. She will also become more focused on caring for her pups.

Clean the whelping box once the mother dog has finished giving birth to all the puppies and placentas. Gently move the mother and puppies to remove soiled towels and replace them with clean ones. Ensure that mother and pups are all clean, dry and warm in their box. Let the mother become acquainted with her new puppies as she cleans and nurses them.

Ensure the puppies are contained and safe and help the new mother outside to go to the bathroom when she feels ready. Wipe her with a damp cloth to help keep her clean. Keep her on a leash or in a contained area to keep her safe. Watch her carefully as she walks and does her business, and be ready to help her in and out of the house if necessary. Some discharge is normal after birth, but if there is an alarming amount, or she seems weak or otherwise ill, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Keep her food and water dishes full at all times to ensure she gets enough nutrients to keep herself healthy and feed her new brood. Ask your veterinarian what type of food would be best, as some recommend feeding a new mother puppy food right after birth for the added nutrients. Let her eat as much as she wants to keep her strength up so she can offer the best milk to her growing babies.

Check the mother regularly for signs of infection or other health concerns for a few weeks after birth. Vaginal discharge should taper off and stop by about three or four weeks after birth. Contact your veterinarian immediately if her discharge appears red and smells foul, her nipples appear red and swollen or if she appears shaky and drools excessively.

Items you will need

  • Dog or puppy food
  • Food and water bowls
  • Clean towels or sheets
  • Whelping box


  • Speak with your veterinarian when your dog delivers all of her puppies to know what behavior is normal and what's not after birth. That way you'll know when to call in case of emergency.
  • You can also use clean newspapers or old sheets in place of towels in the whelping box.
  • Bring everything your dog likes or needs near or into the whelping box so she doesn't have to leave her puppies during the early weeks.


  • Some mother dogs will be very protective of their litters, so always be careful when interacting with mother and babies in the first few weeks after birth.
  • Do not expose the mother and puppies to the possibility of infection or illness by inviting everyone you know to see the cute little family. Every visitor carries any number of bacteria and viruses, which could pass to the puppies and mother and make them sick. Wait until the puppies are at least a month old before exposing them to visitors.

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About the Author

Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.

Photo Credits

  • Collie Dog on Dog Bed image by Janet Wall from