Is your dog pregnant and about to give birth? If this is your first time helping a dog give birth, read on for some answers to frequently asked questions about farrowing (delivery).
First, you should discuss the process with your veterinarian. It is important to understand the potential risks and be able to recognize the signs of complications. It is best to find a veterinarian with experience and interest in dog breeding ahead of time. Ideally, your veterinarian will be examining your dog throughout your pregnancy. Your veterinarian will discuss preparations with you and may also help you find the right supplies. It’s also a good idea to talk to an experienced dog breeder and consider having that person present for the delivery.
Know when your dog is ready to give birth
Pregnant dogs usually show signs of nesting within about 48 hours after giving birth. These signs may include scratching on her bed and finding a safe place to raise her puppy. As the due date approaches, you should start taking your dog’s rectal temperature once or twice a day. Normal body temperature is about 100-102°F. When the rectal temperature drops below 100°F, this is a good sign that labor will begin in about 24 hours.
During the first stage of labor, your dog will begin to experience uterine contractions. She may also start pacing or digging. Many dogs pant or shiver. Some dogs even vomit. This is all considered normal behavior and usually lasts 6 to 12 hours until the cervix is dilated and she is ready to deliver her cubs.
what you can do to help
When your dog gives birth for the first time, the best thing you can do is keep your distance while watching her quietly. You may be surprised to learn that dogs usually don’t need much help to give birth. In fact, it can be quite fascinating to watch a dog’s instincts take over and nurse their pups.
When a pregnant dog is ready to give birth to her first puppy, she will usually pull or push for about 10-30 minutes before the puppy appears. As each newborn puppy emerges from the birth canal, you will see that it is covered with a membrane that must be removed to allow the puppy to breathe. Most mothers will do this instinctively by licking and biting the membrane. She will lick her mouth and nostrils to allow the puppy to breathe. The placenta will still be attached to the puppy via the umbilical cord. The mother should chew off the umbilical cord in about five minutes and then proceed to lick the puppy’s body clean.
If the mother does not remove the membrane in about two minutes, you will need your help. Use your fingers to carefully remove the film, then gently wipe the puppy clean with a towel. Tie the umbilical cord, string, or dental floss (unflavored and unwaxed) about half an inch from the puppy’s abdomen, being careful not to pull on the umbilical cord. Use sterilized surgical scissors to cut the rope an inch and a half away from the puppy. The power cord will come off on its own after a few days.
Puppies are usually born about 45-60 minutes apart. Between pups, the mother may or may not try to eat the placenta of the previous pup. You may want to prevent your dog from eating too much placenta, as it may cause vomiting later.
About halfway through the delivery of the pups, the mother may need a break. It could be up to four hours before she starts getting nervous again.Unless she’s more than four hours before she starts giving birth to her next puppy, there’s no reason to worry. Hope you have some idea about the number of puppies and their size. Your veterinarian may take an X-ray around day 45 to determine the number of puppies.
Some puppies may be born tail first. This is not abnormal and is usually not a problem unless the puppy seems to be stuck.
signs of complications
Call your veterinarian right away if any of the following occurs:
- She did not give birth within 24 hours of her temperature dropping below 100°F
- She was nervous/contracted for more than 45 minutes and no puppies were born
- A puppy appears to be stuck in the birth canal, or the puppy is halfway out and the mom can no longer push the puppy.
- It’s been over four hours since the last puppy, and you know there’s more in there
- She seems to be in excruciating pain
- The gestation period has reached 70 days
- You have other concerns about your mother or her puppy
If in doubt, contact your veterinarian. Ideally, you already have a relationship with a veterinarian who is experienced in canine breeding.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your veterinarian right away. For health-related questions, be sure to consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know your pet’s health history, and can give your pet the best advice.