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Dogs are mostly self-reliant when it comes to giving birth, but it’s still important to prepare your dog and know how to help her if she needs it.
Take the dog to a veterinarian if it is more than 69 days past conception, the mother strains for over an hour without producing another pup, or if labor goes on longer than eight hours.
Step 1: Anticipate labor
Anticipate when your dog is likely to go into labor. Most dogs whelp — or give birth — about 63 days after mating.
Step 2: Choose a whelping spot
Designate a quiet, dark, and warm place, like a bathroom, for the whelping. The room temperature should be about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a sturdy box or plastic container with 6- to 8-inch-high sides and line it with clean towels, rags, and blankets. This is where your dog will give birth.
Step 3: Recognize when labor begins
Recognize when labor starts. The dog may pace, shiver, pant, whine, vomit, or refuse to eat. All these signs indicate that she is beginning to have contractions and her cervix is dilating. Labor can last anywhere from six to 20 hours.
Step 4: Take the dog to her nest
Once you confirm the dog is in labor, take her to the whelping area you have already prepared. Let her stay there until after she gives birth.
Step 5: Let nature take its course
The mother will birth the pups one by one, and the delivery usually takes one to two hours. Allow the mother to push her pups out. You’ll be able to tell she’s pushing because her tail will lift. As she births each puppy, she’ll lick open its birth sac, sever the umbilical cords, and lick or eat the afterbirth for nourishment.
Step 6: Stimulate respiration
If the mother doesn’t tear the birth sac open, stimulate respiration. Wearing latex gloves, tear it manually and clear all fluid away from the puppy’s nose and mouth. Then vigorously rub the pup with a towel.
If you hear coughing or choking that does not quickly resolve, suck fluid from the puppy’s mouth with the bulb syringe.
Step 7: Cut the umbilical cord
If the mother doesn’t sever the umbilical cord, tie dental floss or thread around it, – about an inch from the puppy’s belly button, and cut the cord on the mother’s side of the knot with sterilized scissors.
Step 8: Help deliver stuck puppies
If a puppy is being delivered feet-first, or breach, assist the puppy out of the birth canal by gently pulling it downward and rearward from the mother’s vagina.
Step 9: Ensure nourishment
Make sure that your dog has constant access to food and water after giving birth. Her babies need her to be strong. After all, she’s earned it!
Did You Know?
It takes three weeks for a puppy to develop its senses of smell, sight, and hearing.