How To Assist Your Dog In Giving Birth

The stages of dog birth usually require little human participation. A pregnant dog instinctively knows what to do to deliver her puppies. However, it is important to monitor her as she is whelping. Be prepared to assist or seek veterinary care if trouble occurs.

Signs that Delivery is Imminent

Most dogs deliver their puppies around 63 days after conception. Monitoring her temperature is the best way to determine if a pregnant dog is ready. When a dog's temperature dips below 100 degrees, the whelping process will occur within a day.

Shortly before whelping, a dog will enter a nesting stage. She will tear things up and try to create a nest for her puppies. In addition, most dogs show a definitely lack of interest in food.

First Stage of Labor

During the first stage of dog labor, contractions to soften the cervix begin. These contractions are painful and last up to 18 hours. Your dog will be restless and extremely uncomfortable. Make sure she is in a comfortable, quiet environment where she will not be disturbed during the dog birth.

A dog giving birth may throw up. Many pregnant dogs whine and whimper. Comforting words help ease a dog through this stage of labor, as will one-on-one attention.

Second Stage of Dog Labor

The second stage is active labor. Contractions increase in the pregnant dog as each puppy pushes towards the birth canal.

Each puppy develops in an individual amniotic sac. You'll see fluid come out shortly before a puppy arrives during a dog birth. Occasionally, the placenta of another puppy will come out with a preceding puppy. As the puppy exits the mother, she will lick the puppy clean and may eat the placenta and sac. This is normal behavior and an integral part of the bonding process.

During a dog birth, puppies can take up to four hours to appear. If you need to assist in a vaginal delivery, pull the puppy gently downward as you pull it out in an arcing motion to prevent breaking the puppy's back or legs. Only assist if the puppy has been in the birth canal for more than an hour and its legs are visible.

If a dog giving birth refuses to tend to her puppy following delivery, you must. First, remove the amniotic membrane from the face and wipe away fluids from the puppy's nose and mouth. Rub the puppy vigorously with a clean, warm towel to stimulate blood flow and the breathing process. Cut the umbilical cord about one inch from the body and tie it closed with a piece of dental floss.

After the whelping of all puppies is complete, the mother dog's contractions will force any remaining placentas and amniotic fluid out of her uterus ending the delivery process.

When to Call your Vet for Help

In most cases, a dog birth goes smoothly and needs no human intervention. There are situations where you should become involved and transport your pet to a veterinarian.

If you suspect your dog has been pregnant for more than 69 days and the labor process has not begun, contact a veterinarian. You may have miscalculated dates, or your dog may need a C-section if the puppies are alive.

If your dog develops a fever higher than 102.8, an infection may be present. If an infection is present, you may notice vaginal discharge that smells foul or resembles pus.

If your dog seems disinterested in her puppies following a dog birth, seek veterinary care. Problems like milk fever, hypoglycemia and mastitis occur after birth causing discomfort to mother dogs.