You love your dog. Giving birth is a life-changing event for any species, and sometimes it can be scary, especially if there are any complications. As humans, we’re mostly familiar with what a normal human birth should be like, but what if you’ve never experienced a dog giving birth before? How do you know what’s expected? We understand you’re worried about your lovable companion. Let’s see if we can uncover some information that will help her.

What does a dog go through while her body is giving birth?

While giving birth, a dog’s body must go through many different things. As labor begins, she’ll get restless and sometimes agitated. You’ll want to get her to her whelping box, which is a clean, dry, draft-free large box she can stretch out in, but the newly born pups won’t be able to escape.

In theory, you would have gotten her used to this box before this time. While she’s there, you might notice she periodically leaves to stretch, walk around a bit, and or may drag clean or dirty clothing over to the box. She’s attempting to make a nest for her new babies. You’ll want to take the clothes and towels away to avoid getting them stained.

As labor progresses, she may show signs of pain, anxiety, or fear. You must be there for her to help calm her during this process. This whole part of labor can last for up to 12 hours. At the end of that time, her stomach will begin contracting in and out. She will look like she’s straining to poop. Puppies should start appearing within two hours of this starting.

Do dogs die while giving birth?

Yes. Sometimes, dogs die while giving birth. This rate of this chance of death varies based on the breed, how many pups they have, and how healthy the dog was before and during pregnancy. If a puppy comes out the wrong way, such as butt first, or gets stuck sideways, the dog giving birth could die without medical intervention.

Also, if there is internal tearing or hemorrhaging during delivery, the dog could die. These are just some fundamental reasons it’s critical to have a vet on-call while your dog is giving birth.

Do dogs die after giving birth?

Yes. Sometimes a dog can die after giving birth. You’ll need to watch your dog when she’s done giving birth for signs of distress. She may be listless, might not stop panting, or may start vomiting. Her teats might be extra swollen and hot, indicating a breast tissue infection. She may eschew the pups, even after a while of calming down.

You’ll want to watch her for foul-smelling vaginal discharge and anything else that just seems wrong or off. If you suspect distress or illness, you must call the veterinarian for assistance and advice. Depending on what it is, the veterinarian may be able to help her.

How often do puppies die when being born?

It depends on the breed, but it’s said that one or two pups might be born stillborn or die during birth. Because this can happen with each litter, it’s normal to expect it with at least one. The mother dog may not break open the sac the puppy is born in time to get air.

The puppy may also have had a congenital disability that there was no way to know about until birth, meaning there would be no way to save that pup. It might also not have received enough nutrients while in the womb due to crowded space or resources. While this is sad, it’s normal.

How to increase the chances of a successful litter?

In most cases, having a successful litter starts well before the mother dog becomes pregnant. While not all mother dogs will be able to have successful litters, just like some healthy human women will not be able to conceive or give birth naturally, in many cases, this is the exception and not the rule.

While she’s pregnant, there are several steps you’ll need to take to keep your dog healthy, calm, and feeling safe. During the delivery, it’s essential to provide optimal conditions whenever possible. The care before, during, and after pregnancy should not be ignored, just like it should not be overlooked in a human.

Before Your Dog Gets Pregnant

If you want your dog to get pregnant, make sure she’s happy and healthy up to that time. Feed her only highly nutritious foods and supplements or vitamins the vet may recommend. Ensure she has all of her shots, checkups, and preventative care. Make sure she has a healthy weight and that you’re not overfeeding her.

Also, make sure there are no underlying or stress-related medical issues that can affect fertility or cause problems during pregnancy. Make sure she has lots of happy, healthy times with you or your family. Make sure her living conditions are indoors with your family and that she has a safe space. 

Monitor your dog’s health and condition throughout the entire pregnancy if possible. If you have a pure breed dog, you can take your dog to her vet specializing in her species’ dogs. Your veterinarian should be able to tell if the dog has been pregnant from x-rays and may do an ultrasound as well at some point during the pregnancy.

Caring For Your Dog During Delivery

During delivery, your job is to be there for the mother dog no matter what she might need. She might want to be left alone, or she might become extremely clingy. Her whelping box needs to be in the house, in a draft-free, temperature-controlled room that is quiet.

Make sure that no sudden foot traffic comes barging through that room. Reduce her triggers if she has any. For example, if the doorbell rings due to a delivery being made typically sends her into a frenzy, try to reschedule the deliveries for another day or disconnect the doorbell and hang a sign with instructions to leave the packages and not to knock.

Try to play soothing music in the background for your laboring dog. Some animals appreciate it, and others do not. Try to keep your routines in the home quieter than usual and check on her frequently. If you watch a favorite show in the evening together, bring the show into the whelping area on a small screen with the volume turned way down.

She might appreciate the gesture or at least feel like things are still somewhat normal. If she doesn’t start giving birth within 24 hours of labor starting, you should seek the assistance of a veterinarian right away.

During the delivery, make sure each pup comes out straight and headfirst. Don’t attempt to manipulate the newly born pup in any way unless a vet has instructed you to do so. Don’t attempt to quiet your dog as she will most likely need to cry out, like a human who needs help with the pain. Don’t scold your dog during this time at all. Do absolutely nothing to make her feel unsafe in any way, shape, or form.

Caring for the New Litter

The whelping box is indoors because newborn pups have no way of regulating temperature on their own. They should not be subject to outdoor temperature extremes, violent storms, strong winds, or even regular rain showers until much later in their young lives.

Your job at this point is to keep plenty of food and water available for mom, water available for the pups, and keep their whelping box clean, dry, and free from waste.

As the puppies grow, you’ll want to watch them for signs of weakness, high-pitched barking like a seagull, or symptoms of withdrawal. One or two may not feed on mom correctly and not be getting enough nutrients.

Make sure they are all walking the same after a week or two of being born. If all of them are walking normally, one of them should not be struggling with this primary task. Ensure they all react similarly to certain stimuli. Do they all like to be pet, or does one show indications of pain or other ailments when it’s touched?

You want to make sure the pups are dewormed regularly and receive an entire course of puppy shots from a qualified vet. Wean them when it’s time and only use the exceptional puppy food provided by your vet. Actively sit with the pups while they eat to make sure they all get enough food. To keep their box clean, you may need to change their blankets daily. Let momma guide them outside when it’s time.

However, don’t let them stay out too long, especially if it’s extremely cold or sweltering and humid. They still will not have developed a whole way to keep warm or cool off on their own at this stage. Always discuss any issues you have with your vet.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.