Whelping boxes can be expensive, but with a little bit of DIY know-how, you can easily build your own for a fraction of the price. In this blog post, we’ll outline the supplies you’ll need and walk you through the steps to build your very own DIY whelping box. So whether you’re expecting your first litter of puppies or are just looking for an affordable alternative to store-bought whelping boxes, read on for instructions on how to create your own!
Table of Contents
- What Is A Whelping Box?
- How Does A Whelping Box Help?
- DIY Whelping Box Ideas For Dogs
- What Do You Line Your Whelping Box With?
- Where Should A Whelping Box Be Placed?
- DIY Dog Whelping Box: Frequently Asked Questions
- DIY Dog Whelping Box: Final Thoughts
What Is A Whelping Box?
A whelping box is a safe, enclosed space where a dog can give birth and care for her puppies. The box typically has high sides to prevent the puppies from accidentally falling out, and it is often lined with soft bedding material to keep the puppies warm and comfortable. The box may also include a heat lamp to provide additional warmth, and it may be equipped with a door that can be opened or closed for easy, safe access, and to regulate the temperature inside.
A whelping box should be large enough for the mother to move around comfortably, but small enough to retain body heat and provide a feeling of security. It should be used from the time your dog goes into labor until the puppies are weaned. Once the puppies are weaned, they can be moved to a puppy pen or dog crate.
By the way, a whelping box should also have puppy rails. Puppy rails, also known as pig rails, are secured inside the whelping box quite low around the perimeter of the box. This is a crucial safety feature, as it helps prevent the puppies from being crushed against the wall of the box
How Does A Whelping Box Help?
A dog whelping box is an essential piece of equipment for any dog owner who is expecting a litter of puppies, as it helps to ensure the health and safety of both the mother and her offspring.
A whelping box provides a safe, warm environment for your dog to have her puppies. This helps keep the mama calm during the labor and keep stress levels to a minimum while caring for the pups in a safe space.
It also helps to contain the mess (remember, we’re dealing with very young puppies here!) and gives you a place to monitor the puppies 24/7. If you have other pets in the house, a whelping box ensures that they do not disturb or hurt the puppies. Using a whelping box also reduces the risk of the puppies becoming injured or lost.
A DIY whelping box is an easy and affordable way to provide a safe space for your dog to have her puppies. Building a whelping box is a simple project that anyone can do. And if you’re about to welcome a litter of puppies, it will make a world of difference for your new canine family.
DIY Whelping Box Ideas For Dogs
So, how to build a DIY whelping box? There are quite a few different ways to do that – most of them being very simple, quick, and inexpensive. Here are our favorite DIY whelping box ideas:
Reuse A Storage Bin
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to create a DIY whelping box is to repurpose a storage bin. All of us probably have a few lying around in the house, and they’re quite cheap to purchase as well.
Choose a bin that is large enough for your dog to move around comfortably, but small enough to retain body heat. If the sides are very high, drill or cut holes in the sides of the bin for ventilation. Don’t forget to secure pig rails inside the whelping box, as they’ll keep the puppies safe and sound. Finally, line the bottom of the bin with appropriate materials to absorb any mess. And there you have it, a cheap DIY whelping box!
Recycle A Sturdy Cardboard Box
Another simple and affordable option is to create a DIY whelping box out of a cardboard box. Find a sturdy cardboard box that is large enough for your dog to move around in. That’s also a great way to recycle old appliance boxes! Cut holes in the sides of the box for ventilation. You should also cut an appropriate sized opening for the mama and puppies to get out of the box comfortably. Line the bottom of the box with comfy and cushy materials that absorb any mess.
Although a DIY whelping box out of cardboard is a very simple and cost-effective solution, it’s definitely not the most ideal. Cardboard is very porous and it can get flimsy rather quickly. It’s difficult to clean and the edges you’ve cut may be too sharp for the dogs. If that’s the only available option, it’ll do the job. However, you may want to opt for something sturdier and less porous instead.
Bring Out The Kiddie Pool
You can build a whelping box out of many different materials, but one of the cheapest and easiest options is to use a kiddie pool. To create a kiddie pool whelping box, simply clean the pool thoroughly, secure the puppy rails (you can use pool noodles for this), and line it with towels or blankets. Place the pool in a quiet, draft-free room in your home and make sure that it is big enough for your dog to move around comfortably. Add a few toys and chew bones to keep the mother dog occupied, and you’re all set!
Here’s a cheap DIY whelping box tutorial using a kiddie pool and pool noodles:
Wood Whelping Box
If you’re quite handy around the house, you can definitely take on this DIY whelping box project that requires a bit more effort. But, a sturdy wood whelping box can be used over and over again, making it well worth your time. Of course, you should carefully consider which type of wood you use. For instance, the popular plywood is actually very porous, making it harder to clean. It also traps in dirt and bacteria, which could lead to infections and illnesses. That’s something worth considering!
Start by measuring your mama dog and the area where you want to place the whelping box and cut the wood to size. Be sure to make the opening large enough for your dog to comfortably enter and exit. You’ll need a floor panel and four side panels, one of the side panels having an opening for the mama and puppies. In addition to that, you should also attach low rails inside the box.
Here’s a super helpful video tutorial by Dani DIY’d It on how to build a DIY whelping box for dogs:
PVC Puppy Rails
If you’re a breeder or have ever helped deliver puppies, you know that whelping (the process of giving birth to puppies) can be a messy business. That’s why many breeders use PVC whelping boxes – they’re easy to clean and provide a safe, comfortable place for mother and pups. But why PVC?
PVC is a strong, durable material that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. It’s also waterproof, which means it won’t absorb any fluids that may be present during whelping. And if it does get dirty, a quick wipe-down is all it takes to clean it. In addition, PVC is lightweight and easy to assemble, making it ideal for use in a whelping box.
Many whelping boxes available for purchase are made from PVC materials thanks to all of their amazing qualities. But, as you may know, ready made PVC whelping boxes can be quite pricey. Although you can definitely build one yourself, it’s going to be more difficult compared to some other options we mentioned in this guide.
However, PVC pipes make excellent pig rails for that added safety and security. PVC pipes are very inexpensive, easy to secure in place, and don’t require much effort or knowledge. They’re available to purchase almost anywhere, and you can use PVC puppy rails in almost any type of DIY whelping box.You just need to measure the pipes and that’s about it!
What Do You Line Your Whelping Box With?
Obviously, you want to make the DIY whelping box as comfortable as possible for the mama and the pups. So, you’ll be needing a comfy lining material to keep them warm and cushy at all times. Some breeders also use heat lamps to keep the whelping box warm.
Even though some people opt for newspaper or wood shavings, we recommend you avoid them. Newspapers can easily discolor the pups and it’s also hard to keep clean. Wood shavings can be very dangerous for young puppies, and it’s also not a very hygienic option.
Another popular choice is using old bedding or towels. Although it’ll certainly provide comfort and warmth, puppies may hide underneath for warmth, which is another risk to consider. They may get trapped or accidentally crushed by the mother.
However, if you manage to secure the blankets and towels in place, they should be safe to use. In addition to that, you can also opt for a specially designed crate pad that stays in place, provides warmth, and is safe for the puppies.
With that being said, it’s also important to keep your whelping box clean to prevent the spread of disease. Line the bottom of the box with absorbent material and change it often. Wash bedding in hot water and disinfect surfaces regularly. The bedding should be dry at all times, so whenever an accident happens, be sure to change the bedding as soon as possible.
Where Should A Whelping Box Be Placed?
Where you place the box is just as important as the box itself. It should be in a quiet area away from the main traffic flow of your home, and out of direct sunlight. You should also keep it far away from potential hazards like open stairways or fireplaces.
The whelping box should also be large enough to accommodate the mother dog and all of her puppies comfortably. In addition, the whelping box should be placed on a surface that’s easy to clean in case of accidents.
The temperature in the area should be comfortable – not too hot and not too cold. If necessary you may have to get an additional heating pad or a heating lamp to keep the puppies warm.
DIY Dog Whelping Box: Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Make An Easy Whelping Box?
To build a basic DIY whelping box, you will need either a kiddie pool, cardboard box, or a storage bin. You should also stock up on bedding material like blankets, towels, or crate pads. Start by measuring the mama and opt for a box or pool that’s comfortable for the mama to relax with the pups. Next, line the bottom of the box with your chosen bedding material. This will help to keep the puppies warm and dry. Finally, place the box in a quiet, private area where your dog can feel safe and secure. By following these simple steps, you can easily create a cozy space for your dog to welcome her new puppies into the world.
Why Do You Put PVC In A Whelping Box?
PVC is an ideal material for use in whelping boxes because it’s strong, durable, easy to clean, and lightweight. If you’re looking for an easy way to keep your whelping area clean, PVC is the way to go. PVC tubes are often used to create puppy rails, a.k.a pig rails for a DIY whelping box. They’re easy to assemble, easy to secure inside the box, easy to clean, and cheap to purchase.
How Big Should A Whelping Box Be?
As we mentioned earlier, a dog whelping box should be big enough for the mama and pups to comfortably move around. Yet, it should be snug enough so that it retains body heat. The general recommendation is that a whelping box should be one foot longer than your mama dog. Only measure your dog stretched out, as the mama has to be able to move and stretch comfortably around the box while caring for the puppies. Don’t forget to consider the height of the side panels, making sure that they’re high enough so that the puppies won’t manage to get out of the box. By the way, you can also get some hints from websites that sell different dog whelping boxes. Just take a quick peek at what sizes they offer!
DIY Dog Whelping Box: Final Thoughts
A whelping box is a must-have for any dog owner or breeder who is expecting a litter of puppies. It provides a safe, warm environment for the mama and her pups, and helps to contain the mess. Building a DIY whelping box is a simple project that anyone can do. And, it’s a great way to save money!If you’d like to learn more about those early life stages, be sure to check out all of our Puppyhood Survival Guides.
Do you have any tips for building a DIY whelping box? Share them in the comments below!
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To make a whelping box out of a kiddie pool, find a pool size where your dog can lay out comfortably with some extra room for the puppies. You can line it with a round whelping pad, old towels, newspaper, or even covers made specifically for kiddie pools used for whelping.What can I use for a whelping box? ›
Plywood or particle board can be used, however, to help keep cleaning easy, it should be painted with a latex, glossy paint so urine or fecal material isn't absorbed by the wood. Ideally all whelping boxes should have a puppy protective ledge around the inside to prevent crushing of the puppies by the mother.What is the best base for a whelping box? ›
In your whelping box, don't use hay, wood shavings or straw, as these can damage the puppy's skin and eyes. Also, don't have lots of small blankets or pieces of cloth as the puppies may crawl underneath them and either be smothered by them or may be crushed by their mum – one large piece of vetbed is ideal.Can you use a plastic kiddie pool for a whelping box? ›
Choose a plastic kiddie pool that is round rather than scalloped like a sea shell. A pool that is 3′ in diameter will work well for a mini sized dog. The 3′ pool will also suffice for a dog who is on the smaller end of the medium size range as well.Can I use a crate for whelping? ›
Many owners ask if they can use a dog crate as a whelping box - the answer is yes, if your dog is already crate trained. This way, they may find security in using this as their whelping box too. Make sure your box or crate is in a quiet space, that's warm and large enough for movement and lots of little puppies!Does a whelping box need a floor? ›
The bottom of the box may or may not have a floor and may be lined with specially designed "whelping pads," or layers of newspaper (or fabric) to provide insulation from cold floors and to absorb fluids. Fabric covers or partial covers are often used on top to provide a "den-like" environment for the mother.Do you need to heat a whelping box? ›
The whelping box must also be warm to prevent illness. Depending on the breed, the temperature of the whelping box will need to remain at a consistent temperature around 80 degrees, making it important to have a pad that is adjustable.What should be on the floor of a whelping box? ›
If you have built your own whelping box, you may have used wood or cardboard for the bottom. These materials are not easy to keep clean. As such, it is a good idea to line the bottom of your box with vinyl flooring. This can be purchased at any home improvement store, and is self-adhesive.How long should puppies stay in whelping box? ›
They should be trying to climb out of their nest or whelping box by three weeks. By four weeks, the puppies should be able to walk, run, and play.What is the best way to heat a whelping box? ›
Heat lamps can work for this purpose or choose a heating pad with an adjustable thermostat that's safe for pets. Be sure to talk with your vet for the recommended temperature setting that's right for your pups. When the puppies are born, begin by heating the whelping box to about 85°F to 90°F.
Whelping boxes need to have sides that are high enough to keep small puppies up to four weeks old in but low enough to allow the dam to get out. This will usually mean the walls need to be 50 - 60cms high.What are the poles for in a whelping box? ›
Most boxes will include 3 low railings generally referred to as rails, pig rails, poles, or roll bars. These fix to the inside edges of the box. These to help stop puppies from being crushed or smothered by the mother. Should she roll over during birthing or while asleep.Can a whelping box be too hot? ›
The whelping box should have a consistent temperature around 85 degrees, as puppies are not able to generate their own body heat until they are 2 ½ weeks of age. “Excessively high temperatures and high humidity can cause respiratory difficulties and dehydration in puppies.Can you use carpet in a whelping box? ›
Indoor/outdoor carpeting for the first few weeks in the whelping box can be used with success. It does need to be cut to size to fit the box. It requires a thorough washing to remove all chemical residue and to soften the nap. At least 2 pieces would be needed, one to use while the other is cleaned.Why do you need pipes in a whelping box? ›
The Whelping Box …
Ron has fixed a 40mm Waste pipe all around the Inside of the Whelping Box at a Hight of 80mm this allows the new-born puppies don't get squashed against the sides by their mum.
Make sure that if using hot water bottles or electric blankets they are well covered so the puppies do not get burnt. It is useful to have half of the whelping box unheated for the mother so she does not overheat.Can you have blankets in a whelping box? ›
You can use towels, sheets, and blankets for bedding your puppies when they start moving here and there. Make sure that the bedding material should possess body-heat retention level. The bedding should be such that it can absorb body fluids and urine properly. It is essential to keep the bedding dry.How can I whelp my puppy at home? ›
Make sure you have plenty of clean newspapers and sheets or towels. Select where you would like her to have her puppies and put a suitable whelping box in that location. The whelping box should be large enough for her to move around freely, with low sides so that she can see out and easily move in and out.Should whelping box be dark? ›
Place the box in a dark, quiet area of the house. This can be a basement, a closet, or a spare bedroom with the shades drawn. Allow the mother to freely come and go from her whelping area. Keep other dogs away from her whelping area so that she knows it is her place to deliver.
To help your dog feel comfortable, place the whelping box in a private area. This room should be quiet, warm, dry, not too bright, and away from the usual traffic and excitement of your house. This will help your dog feel safe and secure after she gives birth.
Step 1: Measure the length of the dog (in inches) from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail. Add 6 inches to this number. Step 2: Take the total number you got in step 1 and square it (multiply it by itself). This will give you the dog's minimum floor space in square inches.Why is it called whelping? ›
According to a fairly recent hypothesis, a word like Wölbung “curvature; arch” might refer to “womb,” with whelp being its fruit. Gothic hwilf-tr-jos “coffin,” Sanskrit garbhah “womb,” and Greek kٖólpos “breast” have been cited in this connection.How do I stop my mother dog from crushing puppies? ›
Not all have the instinct to nose the puppies to the center of the whelping box for safety. Smothering, crushing, and laying down on the puppies can be prevented by installing railings that help prevent the dog from accidentally lying on a puppy that may have slipped behind her.How cold is too cold for newborn puppies? ›
A temperature below 94°F (34.3°C) can be life-threatening. Therefore, immediate action is necessary to provide the warmth the puppy needs to survive. A healthy newborn can usually survive hypothermia if re-warmed slowly.What temperature is too cold for puppies? ›
Puppies and small dogs don't have the body mass to generate as much heat, so bundle them up anytime the temperature drops below 45 degrees.What are the first 24 hours of a newborn puppy? ›
A newborn puppy needs to eat, so they too have a natural rooting response. They also cannot regulate their own body temperature, so they'll be looking for their mom's milk and warm belly. Newborn puppies sleep about 22 hours a day, so they're really not going to be experiencing much. They also cannot walk.When can mom dog sleep away from puppies? ›
Puppies should not leave their mom and littermates before eight weeks of age. The mother dog has so much to teach the new puppy; lessons that will affect him all his life, and his littermates teach important lessons as well. If the mother dog has passed away, the littermates need to remain together.Should I remove puppies during labor? ›
Do not pull only when the mother strains. Constant, gentle traction on the puppy will stimulate additional contractions. Once the puppy has been born, clear the membranes and then cut the umbilical cord. If the afterbirth is still inside the mother, do not worry.Can a whelping box be too big? ›
Many considerations go into setting up the ideal whelping box for your breed of dog. Importantly, the size should be appropriate — large enough for a dam to stretch out with some room to spare — as a box that is too large can cause her great distress.Is a heat lamp or heat pad better for puppies? ›
The uniform heating, reduced risk of dehydration, and the temperature-adjustment ability are just a few of the reasons that a heating pad is a better option for your puppies and the winner of the 'pad vs. lamp' debate.
“The first few weeks are extremely crucial for a newborn pup when it doesn't adequately develop its thermoregulatory system and tends to acquire the ambient temperature. That is the reason external heating is required for pups born in the winter,” said veterinary surgeon Chandrakanta Chakraborty.How often should you change the bedding in a whelping box? ›
At 2.5 weeks, open the whelping box and add an area two times the size and cover with newspaper…. Change the bedding in the box several times per day, but do not change the paper often (keep it smelling like a toilet and keep the bed smelling like a fresh bed…)How long do you need pig rails in a whelping box? ›
The whelping box has pig rails (to prevent pups from being suffocated by their mother) that are removed after two weeks and replaced with a small potty area. The pups begin housetraining as soon as they start to walk.Where do you put a heating pad in a whelping box? ›
In winter it is necessary to place a rug / towel / rubber mat, under the whelping box, in order to insulate from the floor. Place the heat mat on top of the rug and then the whelping box on top. In summer, however, have the whelping box straight on the floor with the heat pad still underneath.How high should a heat lamp be in a whelping box? ›
For Classic Value boxes, the lamps are fixed to approximately 20 inches above the ground. The proper height will vary depending on a variety of factors, including humidity and ambient room temperature.What is a whelping collar? ›
Description. Easily name and spot your newborn puppies and kittens with this 12-pack of newborn animal whelping collars. The pack features 12 different bright colors allow you to easily keep track of who is who, while a fastening material ensures that your newborn kittens and puppies are comfortable.What is a whelping rail? ›
Rails, also referred to as pig rails, are used to protect the puppies should mom roll over and accidentally smother her babies. When puppies are of sufficient size and strength, rails can be removed to increase internal whelping box space.Can I use a crate as a whelping box? ›
Many owners ask if they can use a dog crate as a whelping box - the answer is yes, if your dog is already crate trained. This way, they may find security in using this as their whelping box too. Make sure your box or crate is in a quiet space, that's warm and large enough for movement and lots of little puppies!Can you make your own whelping box? ›
While you can buy a whelping box at any pet store or online, it's easy and cheap to build a whelping box at home. We'll show you how to cut and assemble your very own, as well as offer a few tips on how to make it perfect for your puppies.How do I make my dog a whelping area? ›
Put the whelping box in a room that is isolated from other dogs. Many breeders set it up in their own bedrooms for the first three weeks. A door and/or gate should be used to keep other dogs away. An ex-pen around the whelping box provides an extra layer of safety.
They should be trying to climb out of their nest or whelping box by three weeks. By four weeks, the puppies should be able to walk, run, and play.How do you heat a whelping box? ›
You may want to supply the whelping box with an additional heat source. This will supplement the mother dog's body heat and help keep the area warm if she must step away from the box for a short time. Heat lamps can work for this purpose or choose a heating pad with an adjustable thermostat that's safe for pets.Should I have blankets in a whelping box? ›
You can use towels, sheets, and blankets for bedding your puppies when they start moving here and there. Make sure that the bedding material should possess body-heat retention level. The bedding should be such that it can absorb body fluids and urine properly. It is essential to keep the bedding dry.Should I remove puppies from whelping box? ›
By the time the puppies are 2-3 weeks old, the mother should have an area near the whelping box, but separate from the puppies to allow her time to rest. At about this time, the puppies will start trying to leave the box to explore. They should be well supervised and have safe toys available.How tall should a dog whelping box be? ›
Necessary Height: Whelping Box need to provide protection to both mom and puppies. Whelping Box should be AT LEAST 22" high for sufficient protection to puppies up to 8 weeks old. Small breed mother dog also need at least 22" high to PREVENT them from easily jumping out.Where is the best place for a dog to give birth? ›
An ideal nest for dogs giving birth is a large cardboard box lined with puppy pads (in case of accidents), and filled with clean blankets, sheets or towels. Make sure the box is big enough for both mum and the litter to fit comfortably inside, and allow mum room for their own space if your dog wants it.Where is the best place for a dog to have puppies? ›
It's a quiet, dark, and comfortable spot—preferably one that the dog is comfortable with because they don't want to have puppies in the middle of your living room floor.What triggers labor in dogs? ›
They are ways to help induce your dog's labor. First, take your dog for a short, and not arduous, walk. Second, try massaging her nipples; this can stimulate her contractions. Third, try gently massaging her abdomen starting at her sides.