Whelping Supplies 101: What to Gather Before the Big Day

Gathering your whelping supplies ahead of time can help you and mom stay calmer on the big day.

Updated February 14, 2024

If your dog is getting ready to deliver her puppies, it's time to get your whelping supplies together. It's a good idea to assemble your dog's whelping box in advance because once your pet goes into labor, you won't want to leave her alone while you search for what she needs. 

Need to Know

By getting prepared early, you may grab items along the way you wouldn't think of last minute.

Finding Your Dog's Whelping Box


The whelping box is vital to keeping the mother comfortable and the pups contained. It should be large enough for the expectant mom to turn around and lie down. First, lay some newspapers down flat. Then, you can add some shredded newspaper to help keep in some of the heat, but only a light layer. 

Need to Know

Never put cloth in the whelping box — it could cause a puppy to suffocate since they can't move themselves yet.

Something to Keep Them Warm

Have hot water bottles ready to be filled to keep the mother and puppies warm. If you use a heating pad, make sure it has an automatic shut-off and keep it on the low setting. You don't want it to get too hot. Check the temp of the whelping box regularly to make sure it's not too hot or too cold.

Helpful Hack

Never place boiling water in a hot water bottle, as it could scald puppies. I prefer a heating pad on low to make sure the puppies have heat, but never too much.

Supplies for the Newborn Puppies Before the Big Day


You'll need a few things ready for the puppies' arrival:

An Extra Box

Find a separate box to hold the pups while mom is still delivering. Set it up the same as the whelping box. Don't forget to make sure it's warm enough for the newborn puppies.

A Bulb Syringe

A bulb syringe will come in handy if you need to suction mucus from the puppy's mouth or upper respiratory tract.

A Scale

A small scale, like a postal scale, with a basket for weighing the pups. 

Quick Tip

Jot down each puppy's initial weight so you can keep track of their growth later.

Puppy Tags

An identification system, like puppy tags, can be extremely helpful so you can tell the pups apart. Most of the time, different-colored puppy collars are used.

Grab What You Need For Delivery


When it's delivery time, you'll find these tools handy:


1 or 2 pairs of forceps or hemostats to clamp the umbilical cords prior to cutting.


Clean scissors for cutting the cords.


Iodine for disinfecting the cords.


A small basin with disinfectant for soaking the scissors and forceps between puppies.

Quick Tip

If the delivery process — like cutting the umbilical cord — scares you, ask your vet to be on-call to come help when it's time. 

Whelping Supplies and Necessities for the Pet Parent


Your role is to be mom's support system as she goes through delivery and birth. I know you're probably nervous and excited, even if you've done this before. Here are a few items that may help you do your job better when the time comes:  


Have plenty of disposable latex gloves available for handling slippery puppies.


You'll find washcloths or cloth squares convenient for holding those pups.

Quick Tip

Keep the washcloth away from their mouth and nose to prevent suffocation. 


Keep a flashlight handy in case mom's bathroom break happens in the middle of the night.

A Notepad 

You will want to keep a whelping record to record the births. Grab a notebook and write down the time and date as each puppy is born. 

Need to Know

Your vet may ask you for this later on if there are any complications.


Coffee! I know it's silly, but seriously, you'll probably need it throughout the process. I know I definitely would!

In Case of Emergency


You can never predict when an emergency might occur which is why it's important to have an emergency kit ready. Include the following:

Nursing Kit

Have a nursing kit and formula specifically made for puppies on hand to supplement the newborn pups if needed.

Cloth Towels

Have plenty of cloth towels ready for rubbing a puppy that needs stimulation to breathe.

Phone Numbers

Most importantly, have a telephone and the number for your family vet and the emergency vet ready.

Quick Tip

Let your vet know once it gets close to the litter's arrival so they're prepared (especially if they won't be there).

Keeping Mom Comfortable in the Delivery Process


Keeping the mother as comfortable as possible is the goal. So, grab anything you think will help her and place it in an easy-to-access place in the same room as the whelping box. And make sure you have:

A Comfortable Leash

Have a leash ready in case she needs a bathroom break.

Electrolytes to Prevent Dehydration

An electrolyte solution, such as Pedialyte, will help keep her hydrated.

Lubricant In Case She Needs Help

It's also a good idea to have a water-based lubricant on hand, like K-Y Jelly, to help ease the delivery if a puppy becomes stuck. (Never use this without veterinary guidance.)

Related: 11 Signs Your Dog's About to Go Into Labor

Waiting for a Birthday


You have your whelping supplies ready, and they're all in the same area next to the whelping box. Now it's a waiting game. The puppies are coming soon!

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Whelping Supplies 101: What to Gather Before the Big Day