The 7 Labor Issues & Potential Delivery Problems in Dogs

The 7 Labor Issues & Potential Delivery Problems in Dogs

Author WDF Staff


If your dog is nearing the end of their gestation period, it means the puppies should arrive at any moment. Dogs are usually pregnant 62 days. However, some breeds can reach 63 days, and that is usually not a worrying sign. Most responsible breeders know they should have a vet on speed dial if anything happens. However, knowing when to call your vet can be tricky.

Most of us that are involved in dog breeding know dogs can take care of their whelping. That is just one of the things that makes them so amazing. Of course, we should do things to prepare for it, like making a whelping box, preparing clean towels, getting Iodine, etc. But knowing how to spot signs of delivery problems can mean the difference between life and death. Here are some possible delivery issues all dog breeders should know and prepare for;

1. Prolonged gestation

A pregnant bitch should deliver her puppies before the 64th day of gestation. If that period lasts longer, chances are there is an issue. If you notice nothing is happening on the 62nd day, you should give your vet a call. Let them know what’s going on and ask for their instructions. There are many possible issues, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Stage I. labor longer than 24 hours

Stage I. labor usually lasts between 6 and 12 hours. In that time, you should see at least one puppy. You can notice stage I. labor because the dog will exhibit nesting behavior. She will look anxious, start dragging clothes or fabric in the whelping box, stop eating, vomiting, panting, and pacing. At the end of this stage, her cervix should be fully dilated. If the labor doesn’t begin within 24 hours, you should call your vet.

3. Strong, steady contractions longer than 30 minutes with no puppies

The bitch should get contractions in stage II. of the labor. The contractions should be pretty visible and easy to notice. The first puppy should be produced within 1 - 2 hours of contractions. However, if no puppy is delivered 30 minutes after strong, steady contractions begin, you should call your vet. Chances are there is an issue.

pregnant bulldog

4. Resting phase lasts too long

When the whelping begins, the mother can take a rest between delivering puppies. By the time she starts delivering, you should know the exact number of puppies so you know if all puppies were delivered safely. The resting phase can last up to 4 hours. If that phase lasts longer, or there are no visible contractions, call your vet. Just make sure you know how many puppies the mother should deliver.

5. Abnormal vaginal discharge

The normal vaginal discharge should be dark green. That means the placenta is detached, and the dog is ready to deliver the puppies. If you notice abnormal vaginal discharge, you should call your vet immediately. Some abnormal vaginal discharges include normal discharge but no signs of labor, foul-smelling pus, or pure blood. That means something is seriously wrong, and you should call your vet as soon as possible. Abnormal discharge is usually accompanied by a higher fever.

6. Puppy is stuck in the birth canal

If a puppy gets stuck in the birth canal and you cannot reach it to pull it gently out, you should take your dog immediately to the pet ER. The stuck puppy may die, but if you react in time, your vet might remove the puppy and safely deliver the rest of the litter. This problem can happen because of uterine exhaustion, or the puppy might be too large. Either way, the bitch will need veterinary care.

7. Infections

If the bitch is showing signs of infection at stage I. of labor, it would be best to take her to the vet. High fever is usually a clear sign. About 48 hours before the delivery, the bitch should have a drop in body temperature. If the temperature is higher, it might be a sign of issues. It would be best to call your vet and ask for advice.

Difference in breeds

Dog breeds are very different. Some might be prone to labor problems, and their delivery has to be closely monitored. Some of these breeds are English Bulldog, French Bulldog, and Boxer. Responsible breeders should talk with veterinarians and other breeders to learn about the specifics of the dog breed they breed. However, these signs are universal and are usually a clear sign something is going wrong.

World Dog Finder team

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