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Potential Problems during your dog’s labour

March 1, 2021 | by verity.ramus@hooknortonvets.co.uk | Pets

On average, a dog giving birth to an entire litter takes 3-12 hours (from the beginning of contractions/straining). Exact timing varies, but the process should never take longer than 24 hours because, after that, the risk of a problem becomes very high.

Once your dog has given birth to all her puppies, she is likely to be very hungry, tired and need to rest. She will need to stay with her puppies to feed them and bond with them. Make sure they are in a quiet space, free from noise and disturbance. There is a risk of your dog rejecting her puppies if she doesn’t feel comfortable, relaxed and able to bond with them after whelping.

Your dog is likely to have a vaginal discharge for up to 6 weeks after whelping, but it should not smell. Contact your vet if you are worried.

Problems whelping/when to contact your vet
Most dogs will give birth on their own without needing any help from you or your vet, but occasionally problems do arise; which we call ‘dystocia’. Dystocia is most common in flat-faced pedigree breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs and French Bulldogs. Below are some things you may be unsure of during your dogs labour.

Poorly mother
Have your dog checked if she seems unwell, or just ‘not herself’ before, during or after whelping.

Green discharge
If you see a green discharge coming from your dog’s vulva, without a puppy, it can mean that the unborn puppies’ are in distress (blood and oxygen supply is failing). Ask your vet for advice immediately.

Bleeding
You will see some fluid and bloody discharge during a whelping. Anything more than a few drips is abnormal and should be checked by your vet immediately.

Exhaustion
If your dog’s labour continues for a long time, she may become exhausted and stop straining.

Straining but no pup
Contact your vet urgently if your dog has been straining for 20-30 minutes without producing a puppy, there may be a blockage.

Puppy stuck
Large puppies, deformed puppies, and puppies delivered backwards can sometimes become stuck inside the pelvis or partway out. If your dog has a puppy stuck inside her, call your vet immediately. Do not pull the puppy without advice.

Sac problems
Some first-time mothers need help removing the birth sac from their puppies. If it isn’t broken, they won’t be able to breathe. Give your dog a chance to remove it herself, but if they don’t, you may need to tear a hole and remove it. Ask your vet for advice immediately if you’re uncertain.

Umbilical cord problems
Some first-time mothers need help removing their puppies’ umbilical cords. This doesn’t have to be done straight away, but if left too long they can cause problems. Call your vet for advice about how to cut and tie cords; if done incorrectly it can cause infection.

No puppies
If your dog hasn’t shown any signs of going into labour 70-72 days after the first mating, contact your vet.

Stillborn puppies
Have your dog checked over if she gives birth to any dead puppies.

If your dog is having trouble giving birth, contact your vet straight away, try to give as much detail about her and the pregnancy as possible, don’t delay!

Written by verity.ramus@hooknortonvets.co.uk

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