Giving birth is a stressful time for both mothers and owners, but in most cases goes smoothly. Here we shall discuss how to prepare as well as possible and what to expect.
It is a good idea to stock up on absorbent sheets, towels and blankets – birth is a messy process! Your dog should ideally give birth in a warm, comfortable, enclosed and secure area that she is used to. Everything needs to be clean – make sure you have gloves or hand washing facilities available. It is a good idea to know what to expect (see below) and make sure you know who to call in an emergency.
Stage One – Preparation (6 to 36 hours).
Stage Two – Delivery of puppies (usually 3 to 12 hours).
Stage Three – Delivery of Placentas (within a few hours)
Progression of labour is most important. If your dog is straining and seems uncomfortable but is not making progress (for example, if there is a long wait between puppies), something could be wrong. Equally, large amounts of unexpected discharge or blood are also not normal. If you are concerned, call your vet as soon as possible.
Your dog should be relaxed, eating and comfortable. If she is not or shows any signs of ill health it is important to contact your vet for a check-up. She will still have small amounts of discharge and blood from her vulva, but large amounts or a bad smell are not normal. She should be producing lots of yellow/white milk from her teats, which will make the teats swollen but should not make them very hot or painful.
Puppies are blind initially but are inquisitive and noisy! They will feed regularly from Mum and spend a lot of time asleep. If they seem quiet or are not drinking enough, contact your vet for a check-up. Weighing them regularly (once or twice a week) can be helpful too as they should always be gaining weight.
Written by veterinary Greg Steele, MRCVS.