Parturition in Dogs

Parturition in dogs is also known as whelping or delivery. If your dog is pregnant, you will have to prepare for the delivery and will also have to be familiar with the stages of labor.

Dog Pregnancy

Dog pregnancy occurs if a female dog in heat is fertilized by a mature male dog. The pregnancy will last approximately nine weeks. The signs of pregnancy may not be visible until week three or five. However, a pregnant dog will display behavior changes and will also gain weight, so it will be easy to identify the pregnancy.

Prepare for the Delivery

Establishing the delivery time may be difficult, especially if you don't know when your pet was in heat. However, if you know the last date of your pet's estrus (heat cycle), you can easily calculate the due date. When the delivery time is near, you will have to prepare a few items for the delivery, so that your dog will be comfortable and to also keep your house clean. You will need a few supplies such as:

  • A whelping box, which can be a simple cardboard box or a wooden container that has an opening on one side
  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Protective gloves for the delivery
  • Scissors, necessary if the dog won't cut the umbilical cords
  • Dental floss, to tie the umbilical cords
  • Water, for the mother during labor

Stages of Labor

The labor in dogs has three stages. The first stage will last up to 48 hours and you may notice that there will be contractions, which may be a few hours apart. Your pet will be nesting and will refuse to eat. Her nipples may start to produce milk.

During the second stage of labor, the contractions will become more frequent, until they're only a few minutes apart. The cervix of the dog will be fully open and she will be ready for delivery. The dog needs to be calm and you need to provide a warm and quiet room for the delivery. Ideally, you should move the dog to the whelping box prior to the delivery.

The last stage of labor shortly follows. The first puppy should arrive within 60 minutes after the stage two labor starts. If your dog fails to deliver the first puppy in three hours, you will need to ask for veterinarian help.

The puppies should start being delivered every 10 to 15 minutes. On average, dogs deliver three to eight puppies. Allow the dog to move; typically she will be able to deliver without your help. However, if you notice that the dog doesn't cut the umbilical cords, you will have to use the scissors and tie the cords with dental floss.

Make sure you count the placentas; there should be as many placentas as puppies delivered. If a placenta is left in the mother's body, this will cause an infection.