I use a Whelping Temperature Chart with all my bitches to help predict their whelping date. Sure, a dog whelping calculator is useful to work out her hypothetical due date. But unless you know the exact time of ovulation, it’s really just a guess, and a rather rough one at that.
So, how do you know whether you should stay home and be with your bitch, or if it’s still safe to go out and leave her for a few hours? Even more important, how can you tell if she’s just about to go into labor and you better set up the couch to sleep on, or if you can go to your own bed tonight?
Just going by nesting and whelping behavior is going to lead you up the garden path. Some bitches start digging nests days before they whelp, and others only do it during labor.
So that’s why I use a Whelping Temperature Chart. It gives me 24 hours notice that whelping is imminent.
How does it work? During the last week of pregnancy you take your bitch’s temperature at least twice, preferably three times, a day. This will provide you with an early warning of the birth.
Her temperature will drop from a normal 37.9 – 38.2°Celsius (100.2-100.8°Farenheit) to around 36.7 – 37.4° Celsius (98-99.4°Farenheit) within 24 – 48 hours of labor.
Unless the bitch is heading for uterine inertia (where she goes into labor with a sluggish uterus that yields no pups within a reasonable timeframe) the temperature should stay low until labor begins.
If your chart shows a temperature that goes in and out of the critical low temperature zone over a few days, that’s usually a warning sign that she is low in calcium. Low calcium is the biggest cause of uterine inertia. But with the Whelping Temperature Chart, you are forewarned and therefore forearmed.
In that case, and the due whelping date is definitely close, give her a couple of calcium tablets. Also have them on hand to give her during the whelping. I routinely give all my bitches oral calcium after they’ve had a few puppies so the uterus gets a little boost.
Be careful with calcium in pregnant bitches though! It’s important not to supplement during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy or you could be setting her up for eclampsia, also known as milk fever, hypocalcemia or milk tetany any time from late pregnancy to when the pups are a few weeks old. More info on feeding pregnant bitches here.
You can get your free Pregnancy Care Guide and Dog Whelping Temperature Chart by opting in on the right hand side of the screen.