Can I Use Pine Bedding for a Newborn Puppy?

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These newborn Jack Russell terriers are resting on a bed of blankets.
These newborn Jack Russell terriers are resting on a bed of blankets. (Image: cynoclub/iStock/Getty Images)

If your dog is expecting puppies, you must put together a whelping box in which she can give birth safely. Once the puppies arrive, she'll initially raise them in the box. You'll need the right bedding for birthing, and possibly a different type for the newborns. Avoid using pine shavings as bedding for newborn puppies. Puppies can inhale or ingest these shavings, causing respiratory or digestive issues.

The Whelping Box

Get the whelping box ready at least a week prior to the expected delivery date. Place it in a private, draft-free area, away from the main traffic patterns in the house. It should be inaccessible to other pets, as well as small children. Your dog's natural nesting instinct will take over shortly before she gives birth, so she'll likely shred any bedding in the box. That's why newspapers make a good box lining at this stage.

Newspapers During Delivery

If you primarily read newspapers online, now's the time to subscribe to a physical paper. At a minimum, find a source of ample newsprint for the next few weeks. Newspaper is probably the best whelping box lining during and shortly after the birth process. Simply take up the soiled papers and throw them out, replacing them with clean newspapers. Once the puppies have arrived and are nursing, it's time to put another sort of bedding in the whelping box, although you might line the bottom with newspaper for insulation. Besides puppy pee and poop in the whelping box, the mother dog will experience a reddish-brown vaginal discharge for approximately three weeks after giving birth.

Blankets and Towels

If you don't have plenty of clean but old blankets and towels around, acquire some in the weeks prior to your dog's due date. These are the mainstays of whelping box bedding for newborn and growing puppies, although you'll have to wash and dry them frequently and always have a backup supply. Outdoor carpeting or bath mats also come in handy as puppy bedding, as they provide better traction as the babies start moving around.

Heating Pads

Because newborn puppies can't regulate their body temperatures, you must ensure they stay warm. Heating pads can do the trick, but you must take care that the pad doesn't overheat or pose a fire danger. A hot-water bottle, wrapped in a towel, is an old-fashioned but effective alternative.

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