It’s natural to worry when your furry friend is about to have puppies, but most of the time she can handle things by herself just fine. Still, it’s good to know what to watch for, so you know what’s normal and what requires a trip to the vet.
The average length of time a dog is pregnant is about 63 days, though anywhere from 56 to 66 days falls into the range of normal. If your dog goes beyond 66 days it could indicate a problem, and if she goes as long as 70 days she definitely needs a trip to the vet. He can check for problems and help get labor started.
Delayed Onset of Labor
Checking your dog’s temperature around the time she’s due to have her puppies will give you an indication of when labor is imminent. A dog’s normal temperature is about 101.5, but it will drop by two degrees about 24 hours before she goes into labor. If her temp drops but you don’t see any signs of labor within a day, take her to the vet.
If your dog is in labor and is having contractions, she should deliver a puppy within a reasonable period of time. If she continues to have hard contractions for half an hour to an hour, but no puppy arrives, she could have a stuck puppy or another problem preventing the birth. Both the mother dog and the pup can die if this goes on too long, so take her straight to the vet, no matter what time of the day or night it is. Research your local emergency vet beforehand in case your regular veterinarian office isn't open during the night.
Although labor is a painful business, something most moms can attest to, your dog shouldn’t seem to be in a great deal of pain. She may do a little bit of squeaking or some whining or crying, and it’s not unusual for her to vomit before or even during labor. She’ll certainly act uncomfortable and restless, but if it goes beyond that, you should call the vet.
Pause in Labor
While a certain amount of rest during labor is normal, if your dog doesn’t have any contractions for four hours or more, something could be wrong. If you are sure she hasn’t delivered all the puppies, or if you even think she might not be done, call the vet. A dog may sometimes have a live pup after a long delay, but more often a puppy will die while waiting to be born. Your dog needs immediate veterinary help to protect her health and to save any unborn puppies.
Each puppy that is born comes out with his own placenta. It’s important that you make sure that every placenta comes out, since any that are retained could cause your dog to develop a uterine infection. It’s normal for her to eat the placentas as they arrive, so you’ll need to be playing close attention to make sure you get an accurate count. If she doesn’t deliver them all, call the vet as soon as possible.