Dog Gives Birth! What to Do Next?
Does a dog give birth? What do I do now? You might ask yourself this question if you are the new owner of a dog that has just had puppies. If so, then don’t worry! This article is here to tell you what to expect and how to take care of your new furry family members. Read on for 11 steps on caring for newborn puppies!
In the first few weeks, your dog may not show much change. Some dogs will seem tired or vomit. Others might eat less. But late in pregnancy, you can notice changes in their behavior, like they start eating more and wanting to nest.
Is There a Pregnancy Test for Dogs?
Dog pregnancy ultrasounds should happen on day 25, blood tests should occur on day 35, and abdominal x-rays can be done on day 45. Talk to your vet about these options.
False pregnancy in dogs is when they do not get pregnant but still show some signs like lactation and behavioral changes. This usually happens one to two months after their heat cycle and can last for up to a month.
If your dog continues to show the signs of false pregnancy, then you don’t need treatment. However, if you are not going to breed her, then spaying her can stop this from happening again in the future.
How Long Does a Dog’s Pregnancy Last?
The gestation length in dogs is about two months or 63 days. A veterinarian should examine the mother 25-45 days into pregnancy.
What to Feed Pregnant Dogs
Pregnant dogs need more food when they are pregnant—transition to a higher-calorie diet at four weeks of gestation. There are many types of food for this. They can be a commercial diet labeled for pregnancy and lactation or a diet labeled for puppies or high-quality foods that can be found in stores without a prescription.
You should keep your dog on a higher-calorie diet when she has puppies. It is essential to know that puppy foods for large breeds are not suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding dogs because they have lower levels of calcium, phosphorus, and energy.
Pregnant and lactating dogs need more food because they are growing or feeding their puppies. Pregnant or lactating dogs will have less room in their stomach, so they will have to eat more often.
Health Considerations for Pregnant Dogs
It’s recommended you have a fresh stool sample checked by your veterinarian. Parasites can spread to the puppies both before they are born and while they are being nursed.
Do not use a dewormer you get from a store if your dog is pregnant or nursing. A veterinarian can prescribe the proper medication for your dog. Female dogs should not have vaccinations, but make sure she is up to date on flea, tick, and heartworm prevention.
How to Prepare for Your Dog’s Birth
Before your dog goes to labor, you should find a quiet place for her to give birth (or whelp). The area should be warm and comfortable. Your dog should be able to go in and out as she wants. Don’t let the puppies escape!
It’s also essential for the mother to be isolated from other dogs three weeks before labor and after delivery to prevent herpes infection. This virus is an uncommon cause of disease in adult dogs but can be fatal for puppies.
Dogs can have a high temperature before they give birth. But after the baby comes out, their temperature will go below 100°F. So you should take her temperature one day before she is due to give birth. You need to do it some other way than by taking it with your hand or mouth.
How Long Do Female Dogs Take to Get Pregnant?
Dogs have three stages of labor. Sometimes, they have contractions for 6-12 hours. Puppies are often born 45-60 minutes apart, but the mother dog may take a break of up to four hours between puppies.
First Stage of Dog Labor: The Beginning of Contractions
Your dog will act restless, go into the nesting box, pant, dig or even throw up. This stage usually lasts for up to 12 hours.
Second Stage of Dog Labor: Contractions Get Stronger; Birth
The second stage of labor begins with more robust and more frequent uterine contractions. Puppies are usually born every 45-60 minutes, but it can sometimes take up to four hours in between puppies. It is usual for the mother to take some rest during the whelping process, and she may not strain for up to four hours.
If your dog has been training for more than 60 minutes, or she takes longer than a four-hour break, take her to the vet.
How Many Puppies Can a Dog Have?
The average litter size for puppies can vary depending on the breed. Smaller breeds usually have one to five puppies, while larger breeds have more. A veterinarian will take an x-ray after 55 days of pregnancy to find out how many there are in your dog’s litter.
What To Do After a Puppy Is Born?
Puppies are born with a protective layer. If the mother dog does not take it off, you must do it yourselves. Remove the sac, clean away fluid from the puppy’s nose, then open their mouth and wipe away any remaining liquids. Stroke them firmly to make them breathe again.
If the umbilical cord is not cut at birth, you need to do it yourself. But don’t pull on the cord too hard because it may hurt the puppy’s organs. Carefully break apart the cord about an inch from the puppy’s body, and tear it gently with your first two fingers and thumb.
Third Stage of Dog Labor: Newborn Puppies
The last stage of labor is passing the placenta. You will see a mass of membranes that was around the baby. It will be green and black.
Following Your Dog’s Pregnancy and Giving Birth
When you have puppies, there are things you need to watch for.
Here they are:
- Watch the mother dog make sure she doesn’t hurt herself too much when moving around.
- Give her lots of food and water because she will eat a lot and drink a lot when caring for the puppies.
Problems to Watch for After Your Dog Gives Birth
Here are things to expect and what to watch for after your dog gives birth.
You may have a lot of vaginal discharge after your puppies are born. It will be mostly blood, and it will turn to a reddish-black color. If you have a lot of blood, a bad smell, or a pus-like discharge, call your veterinarian as soon as you can.
Mother dogs often have a fever after they give birth. But don’t worry if you see signs of illness, because there shouldn’t be any.
Metritis (Inflamed Uterus)
If you have a fever, an unappetizing appetite, bad-smelling vaginal discharge, if the puppies don’t interest you and you don’t produce milk, please call your vet.
Eclampsia (Drop-in Blood Calcium Levels)
Eclampsia can happen to a mother during the first three weeks after she gives birth, and it is caused by her body not getting enough calcium. This is usually seen in small-breed dogs, and getting calcium while pregnant increases your chance of developing this condition. Dogs that have this condition will show some signs: restlessness,
Mastitis (Infected Breast Tissue)
Mastitis is when your breasts become hard and red and hurt. It happens when your milk becomes infected. This can occur if you nurse. Your dog may get mastitis, too, so contact a veterinarian if you think that your dog has it.
Agalactia (Not Producing Milk)
If a dog doesn’t make milk or lets it down, puppies might not get the milk they need. The first milk that they have has nutrients and antibodies from the mother that help them to become stronger. If puppies don’t drink this in their first few days of life, then they might still need more veterinary care.
Keep Your Dog on a High-Calorie Diet
If you have a pregnant dog, and she is nursing her puppies, she needs more food. Make sure that she has plenty of food and water.
Create a Space for Your Dog and her Puppies
Place the mother dog and her puppies in a quiet, clean, low-traffic area of the house. The mother dog can become stressed and neglect her puppies if there is too much commotion around them.
Newborn puppies should eat every one to two hours. Your dog will spend a lot of time with them for the first week or two. If you notice that your dog is not producing milk, or if they do not let the puppy’s nurse, contact your veterinarian right away. Medications and vaccines should be prevented while your dog is lactating.
Call Your Vet if Your Dog Looks Sick
If your dog gets sick, call your vet right away. Tell them that your dog is nursing so they can prescribe safe medications if needed. Contact a veterinarian if your dog stops eating, vomits, or becomes very tired and weak, or if you notice redness and swelling in her mammary glands.
Consider Spaying and Neutering
We have a problem with too many people on Earth. To help solve this problem, talk to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your dog. This is the only way for dogs to not have babies. The cost of an unplanned pregnancy can be high if you take care of the puppies.
In general, small dogs should be spayed when they are younger. But if a dog is a large breed, its spay can be delayed until it is older. One reason for this is that there has been evidence that some large breeds may have fewer problems later in life if they are allowed to become skeletally mature before being spayed.
You have to ask your veterinarian what the best time is for spaying or neutering your dog. Most dogs are spayed or neutered around 4-6 months of age.
Dogs need to be spayed or neutered because they can have a disease called pyometra. If they are not, the dog could die. This will happen as early as six months of age if your dog does not get fixed or has a medical condition called pyometra.
Puppy Care and Nutrition
Follow these guidelines to care for newborn puppies.
Approach the Puppies With Caution
Do not touch the puppies too much. They are very young and might get sick. Try to stay away from the mommy dog because she can be mad at you or other people or pets in your house.
As your puppies get older, they will be more active and need your attention less. Your dog doesn’t want to be around them all the time. Give them some space, but make sure that she is checking on them often.
Provide Warm Bedding
Puppies cannot regulate their body temperature until they are 3-4 weeks old. Give the mother and puppies a warm place to sleep for the first four weeks. You could use a heating pad or lamp under or above them to keep them warm. Make sure there is also an area that is unheated so they can move.
Start Socializing the Puppies
At this point, you can get the puppies used to you. Socializing with them at an early age can help ensure they fit nicely into a household. Watch for “poor doers” (puppies that are much smaller and not growing as quickly as their littermates). You should not take them away from their mother and send them to their new homes too quickly, as they learn essential social rules and behavior. They should also not be separated from their mother if they are younger than eight weeks old. Wait until they are ten weeks old so that they will have had the maximum benefit of social interaction.
Puppies are born with teeth. When they are 3-4 weeks old, you can start to feed them dry food. Mix dry food with water or canned puppy food so that it will be easy for them to eat. The mother will still nurse the puppies and give them milk. Over time, the puppies will eat more and more.
Contact Your Vet Just After the Puppies Are Born
If your puppies are 2-4 weeks old, contact your veterinarian to ask for their recommendation of when they should be examined. They may want you to bring them in right away, or they may advise that you wait a little longer before doing anything.
Many veterinarians recommend deworming at regular intervals starting at 2-4 weeks of age.
A dog pregnancy can last between 56 and 70 days. Puppies are usually born around 63 days (2 months) after they were conceived.
Like humans, some dogs can be sick in the morning during pregnancy. Other early dog pregnancy symptoms might be subtle, like appetite changes, nipples being slightly bigger than before, clear vaginal discharge, and feeling tired.
No test can tell if your dog is pregnant. One of our vets uses a physical examination or ultrasound to find out.
How long it takes to give birth to a puppy depends on how many puppies there are. Generally, it takes 3-12 hours. If you come for a dog pregnancy appointment at our Denny practice, we can show you three things that happen during labor.
Female dogs can’t have puppies all the time. Female dogs only have their ‘heat’ season when they are between six and three years old, about twice a year.