3 Most Common Signs Your Dog is Going Into Labor Soon

3 Most Common Signs Your Dog is Going Into Labor Soon

Author WDF Staff


The typical dog pregnancy lasts about 63 days, but knowing your dog is getting ready for labor can help you prepare and pay attention to the little details. A great thing about our furry best friends is that they can easily take care of their own birth. However, you want to be prepared in case there are any emergencies. Knowing the most common signs your dog is going into labor is helpful, especially if you are a dog breeder who will often go through the process of delivering puppies.

3 most common signs your dog is going into labor soon are;

1. Nesting

About 48 hours before the pregnant bitch goes into labor, the nesting behavior will start. The mother will instinctively begin looking for a dry, safe, and comfy place where she can deliver her new litter. As a responsible dog breeder, you probably already prepared a comfy whelping box filled with newspaper, blankets, and safe sides, so the newborn puppies will be contained.

Nesting is probably the most common sign your dog is going into labor soon. Most dog owners and breeders notice the behavior, and you can be sure labor will begin in the next 48 hours. This behavior might start a week before the labor, but a serious increase in nesting intensity can be noticed about 2 days before whelping. Your dog will seriously rumble the whelping box before they whelp, which is how most dog breeders know what’s coming.

Want to know more about dog pregnancy? Check out this article - Dog Pregnancy.

2. Rectal temperature drop

As general advice, we like to tell dog breeders that keeping a chart of the pregnant dog’s rectal temperature in the final week of the pregnancy. It will help you determine with great precision a timeframe when the whelping will start. If you know when it will start, you can notify your vet and make final preparations for the arriving puppies. This might seem like a messy job, but then again, being a dog owner will get anyone used to dealing with messy things.

mother and puppies

The dog’s average body temperature is between 102 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Throughout the pregnancy, you might notice slight drops, but the thing you are looking for is two consecutive readings of 97 degrees. The readings should be 12 hours apart, which is the most precise sign your dog is going into labor. If you take your dog’s temperature regularly, you can guess accurately the part of the day in which the dog will go into labor.

Want to know more about a dog’s elevated body temperature? Check out this article - Dog fever.

3. Pacing, panting, vomiting, bowel movement

About 6 - 12 hours before the dog goes into labor, there will be a change in the dog’s behavior. Dogs feel the labor is coming, and their body naturally starts preparing for it. The mother will most likely lose interest in food, but that can happen for up to 48 hours. Even if she eats her kibble, chances are she will throw it back up. Another sign of an upcoming whelping is a large bowel movement. The puppies are pushing against the dog’s intestines, so you shouldn’t be surprised if your dog passes a surprisingly large poo.

In the earliest stages of labor, the uterine contractions will start. Some dogs show little to no signs of contractions, and others shake, pant, pace around the room, or even vomit. This is considered entirely normal. These “symptoms” will last until the cervix dilates and the dog is ready to start delivering the puppies.

labrador mom and puppies

When the whelping starts

When the dog starts delivering the puppies, you should have your phone close to you. Keep your vet prepared and have them ready to come to your home if any complications happen. Dogs never deliver all of their puppies at once, and you should know that before you start panicking. Dogs usually push up to 30 minutes before the first puppy arrives. Puppies are typically delivered 45 - 60 minutes apart. The dog might even take a break for up to 4 hours between delivering puppies. This process is considered completely normal, and unless more than 4 hours pass, you should not worry.

Be close to your dog and quietly observe them. You want to give her her space but still remain close if you need to assist the puppies. Watching a dog deliver puppies can be a wonderful thing. She doesn’t need much of your help, so you can make sure she is comfortable and let her instincts do the rest. Just keep an eye on the puppies and make sure the protective membrane is removed within two minutes of them emerging.

World Dog Finder team

World Dog Finder Logo