Your expectant dog can miscarry or abort spontaneously at any stage during her pregnancy. Some dogs miscarry in the early stage, before you even know they are pregnant. Other dogs miscarry later in the pregnancy, with potentially serious consequences to their health.
Dogs start to show external signs of their pregnancy at around four weeks. At any time after this, if you see the dog’s swollen stomach suddenly get smaller, it could be because she has lost the puppies. In some cases, her body may reabsorb the puppies, so you might not see any other physical signs of miscarriage.
A dog who miscarries in the middle to late stages of the pregnancy may abort the fetuses she is carrying. Dogs often eat the fetuses if this happens, so by the time you realize she has miscarried, the fetuses may no longer look like the remains of puppies. Dropping fetuses is not typical in domestic dogs, however, and it’s more common for the dog’s body to reabsorb the fetal tissues.
A vaginal discharge is always a reason for concern, particularly in a pregnant dog. After a miscarriage, your dog could develop a bloody discharge, which is commonly caused by the womb voiding the remains of the pregnancy. In late stages, she could also discharge lumpy matter, which may be the placenta coming out. If she shows any sign of pus or has a foul-smelling discharge, she could have an infection of the womb, which needs immediate veterinary treatment.
Dogs often suffer from depression and restlessness after a miscarriage. If your dog suddenly displays changes in her behavior, such as becoming listless, withdrawn or less active, she may be depressed. Her eating and sleeping habits could change, and she might no longer enjoy going for walks or other activities.
Your dog may show signs of vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite, lethargy and general tiredness. She may have a fever and appear generally uncomfortable, or show signs of abdominal straining or pain. The cause of the miscarriage may be an infectious disease such as brucellosis, a hormonal problem such as hypothyroidism, or another medical condition such as cancer. If the dog has any of these illnesses, she is likely to appear generally unwell as a result of the illness as well as the miscarriage.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Tracey Sandilands has written professionally since 1990, covering business, home ownership and pets. She holds a professional business management qualification, a bachelor's degree in communications and a diploma in public relations and journalism. Sandilands is the former editor of an international property news portal and an experienced dog breeder and trainer.