All you need to know about your dog going into labor

All you need to know about your dog going into labor

Whelping, which is what the canine birth process is called. A process that should be handled by people with experience, if you ever do find yourself having to oversee the delivery of a litter of pups, here's what you need to know to assist. 

The two most important things to remember before we go into the details are: 

  • The mother dog knows what to do by instinct, hence, she should be doing most of the work 
  • You will need to remain absolutely calm 

pug lying down

The signs of dog labor 

 Prepare the necessary kit when the time is near. After 64 days or so, the gestation period is up, what is gestation? Gestation is a process or period developing inside the womb between conception and birth, lookout for some of the following signs in your furball:

  • It becomes restless
  • Stops eating up to 24 hours before labor 
  • Starts licking her vulva 
  • May vomit or discharge mucus
  • Paw at her bedding, as if preparing a nest

Some vets see a drop in body temperature as a sign of impending labor while others discount it. Vets who use body temperature see a drop between 38 to 39 Celcius as the indicator that birth will occur within 12 hours, while others do not think the connection is so clear-cut, therefore the above signs should take precedence over the body temperature.

Signs of complication 

The mother dog might have complications while she is giving birth, hence, you will need to help your pup by observing if any of the following occurs:

  • Having contractions for more than 45 minutes and no puppy is born
  • The puppy might be stuck in the birth canal, or maybe halfway out, and the mother cannot push the puppy anymore 
  • Does not go into labor within 24 hours of her temperature dropping below 100 Fahrenheit (37 Celcius) 
  • The gestation period has reached 70 days
  • Appears to be in extreme pain 
  • She is suffering to give birth, and you know that there are more pups inside

emergency kit

What should be included in the kit?

It is important to prepare an emergency kit before momma dog gives birth to its fur child, below are the common necessities:

Aspiration Bulb 

It is hard to see whether a pup is breathing normally, hence if you think that the pup is having difficulty breathing, use the aspiration bulb to suction the pup's mouth, nose, and throat. It is used to help clear out the airways to help the pups start breathing. 

Whelping box

A whelping box is necessary for all puppy deliveries, as the mom can feel comfortable before, during, and after whelping. You can either buy or DIY your own whelping boxes, you can use a cardboard box with the front cut down so that the mother can go in and out easily. The sides only need to high enough to prevent any drafts from reaching the pups. 

Digital Thermometer 

Start taking her temperature 10-14 before her expected due date. When the temperature drops 98 to 99 Fahrenheit (36-37 Celcius), get ready for fur babies! 

Heat Lamp

Newborn puppies cannot regulate their body temperature. It is recommended for owners to buy heat lamps with clamp and attach the lamp to the edge of the whelping box. As mentioned newborns cannot regulate their heat, hence you will want to make sure they can get away if it's too hot. 

Emergency supplies 

These items are must-have for a few scenarios:

  • Sterile scissors
  • Gloves
  • Heavy thread or dental floss ( It is used to tie umbilical cords)
  • Antiseptic solution 

Additionally, have your regular vet phone numbers on hand, as well as an after-hours animal emergency hospital, most whelping occurs during predawn hours.

DIY Whelping Box! 

DIY a whelping box for your furball! There are many materials that you can use to make a box. Here are the steps on how you should do it:

Step 1 

Measure and cut all the lengths that you need. On one of the sides, cut out an entrance- the size of this will depend on the breed of the mother. You will need to estimate how low does it need to be for her to easily get in and out. 

Step 2 

If you are using plastic, use the 90-degree L-Shape trim to glue the sides together. Glue along the inside of the trim and attach one side to each length of the trim. If you're using wood, nail the sides together. 

Step 3 

Attach the base, you could glue the trim on the inside or the outside of the box, again, if you're using wood, just nail the sides to base.

Step 4 

Attach the rail, if using plastic, glue one side of the plastic trim to the side of the box around 4 inches from the base. If using wood, glue the railing to the sides of the box around 4 inches from the base. 

Here's a video guide :

 Video Credit: Hallmark Channel 

Ready for Delivery? Now don't panic!

If there's a grayish sac drop from the vulva, this means that there's a puppy on the way! The mother should pass the first baby within an hour of the sac appearing. If she doesn't, it's time to call the vet to discuss further steps. If you are not sure what to do, check in with the vet by phone through the entire process to report its progress.

mother dog

How to help the mother?

Remove the membrane 

The membrane will look like a plastic wrap, which needs to be removed within six minutes, even much better if you could remove it immediately, so that the pup doesn't suffocate. Normally, the mother will do it by itself. If she doesn't, please give her a hand to break the membrane. 

Rub the puppy with a towel

Right after the membrane comes off, the mother dog will lick the puppy, just like a human, we pat the newborn's back which will stimulate it to breathe and cry, likewise to a dog. If she doesn't do this, you should rub the puppy with a towel until it starts breathing on its own. 

Discard the waste

After each birth, there will be a mass of blackish-green tissue called the placenta. Once the puppy is born, the placenta is useless. You may discard it. The mother may eat the placenta, even if she does, is not that big of a deal. It won't cause her harm, however, you should not let her at more than one or two of them. 

It's also important to count how many puppies and placentas are there because after birth, it does not always come out with the puppy. The mother should discharge any unaccounted placentas after the last puppy is born.

If the momma pup doesn't chew through each umbilical cord on her own, you will have to cut the cord. If you do, be sure to use sterilized scissors.

The Last Birth 

Keep them warm 

Once the last puppy is born, let the mother dog rest for a while, after a few minutes or so, you may take her outside to urinate. Llater on, prepare a clean whelping box for her and the pups.

The pup's body is weak, hence their body will get cold easily, the mother dog will cuddle them while feeding them at the same time, if one of the pups are being left out, ensure to bring it back to its mother womb to keep them warm. If the mother dog can't supply enough milk for her pups or reject any or all of the puppies, then it's your job now. 

How to know if the puppies aren't being fed well

They will be sucking at everything, acting restlessly, or showing that they are not in a comfortable position. You can feed them yourself with nursing bottles and supplements, it is available at pet stores. 

You will need to take the mother to the vet within 24-48 hours of giving birth. This is to check for any complications that occur during the process. Your vet will also give your dog a posterior pituitary extract injection (POP).

How to use the types of emergency supplies?

Sterile Scissors 

A pair of sterile scissors come in handy if the momma pup doesn't chew each umbilical cord on her own, hence you will need to cut the cord. How to cut an umbilical cord? You will need to cut about an inch from the pup's belly, and tie the cord off with the dental floss 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the puppy's body.

Antiseptic solution

An antiseptic solution will only be used if there's a wound, but be gentle to it as it will feel pain when the solution is been applied. 

Aspiration Bulb 

How to use:

  • To use the bulb syringe, squeeze the air out of the bulb. Keep the bulb squeezed. 
  • Gently place the tip of the squeezed bulb into a nostril.
  • Release the bulb to let the air back into the bulb
  • Suction the other nostril the same way.

Watch the following video to learn how:

 Video Credit: Marble Mountain Kennels

FAQ you might have: 

What if my dog gives birth to just one dog?

Dogs are polytocous, meaning they have more than two pups each time they give birth. On average, the litter size ranging from three to seven, depending on the breed, it is particularly common in Scottish Terrier.

Sometimes, it is seen that only a single or two pups are present, which is quite rare, hence it is called Single Puppy Syndrome. Breeding dogs after the age of 7 years increases the chances of having a single puppy. 

What if your pup can't push her babies out, and all the vets are closed?

For a dog giving birth to a puppy that is stuck, it may not actually be stuck, most of the time she may just be taking a break. Before you intervene, time how long your mother dog has been at her labor. If she is still struggling, you will need to pull it out from the birth canal. How to pull it out? Here's the step:

Step 1 

Check and ensure that the sac has really broken. If you can see fur, proceed to the next step. 

Step 2 

Pull-on the sac. If you still see the sac, try to pull on it to see if it's broken. If the sac comes out without the puppy you will start to see the fur of the puppy and know for sure that the puppy is in trouble.

Step 3

Speak calmly to the mama dog so that she knows you are going to help her. 

Step 4 

Grip the puppy with a washcloth. Get a firm grip but be extremely gentle. 

Step 5 

Pull: When the mother dog has her next contraction, gently pull down on the puppy. 

Step 6 

Ease the puppy out as gentle as you can. Don't let it stay inside any longer, because it will suffocate if the sac has broken.

Step 7 

Clean the puppy as soon as the puppy is out of the mother. If the mother cleans its face, let it do so. If it doesn't, you will need to give a hand. You should hear the puppy taking his first breath.  

What if my dog is a small breed, but the breed that she is bred with is a bigger dog? Should I be worried about her having the babies on her own?

If she is bred with a bigger dog, it means that her pup is a mixed breed, which makes her pup to be even bigger in comparison to her breed size. The concern that you should be having would be, do you want her to give birth naturally or she will need a C-Section. It would be important to get her x-ray around the last 10 days of her pregnancy to determine how many pups are there and whether they appear to be very large. 

Canine whelping, like any live birth, is an amazing thing. But it can be strenuous, both for your dog and you. Hopefully, your dog's birthing process will be simple and pain-free for every human- and every dog- involved.

image 2017 revised how petbacker works 

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