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Dogs Pregnancy Labor Signs

Dog Pregnancy: Labor Signs and What to Expect

Pregnancy in dogs, also known as gestation, typically lasts around 63 days, with a range of 58-68 days. During this period, it is crucial to monitor your dog closely and be aware of the signs of impending labor. Understanding these signs will help you prepare for the birthing process and ensure a smooth and safe delivery for both your dog and her puppies.

Signs of Impending Labor in Dogs

As your dog’s due date approaches, you may observe several physical and behavioral changes that indicate the onset of labor. These signs can vary from dog to dog, but some common indicators include:

1. Nesting Behavior:

  • Your dog may start seeking out a secluded and comfortable place to prepare for labor. She may gather blankets, pillows, or other soft materials to create a nesting area.

2. Restlessness and Anxiety:

  • As labor nears, your dog may become restless and anxious. She may pace around, whine, or show signs of discomfort.

3. Changes in Appetite:

  • Your dog’s appetite may decrease or become irregular in the days leading up to labor. She may also experience nausea or vomiting.

4. Temperature Drop:

  • About 12-24 hours before labor, your dog’s body temperature may drop by 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a sign that labor is imminent.

5. Dilated Cervix:

  • A few hours before labor, your dog’s cervix will begin to dilate. This process can be monitored by a veterinarian through a vaginal examination.

6. Discharge:

  • You may notice a clear or slightly bloody discharge from your dog’s vagina as labor approaches. This is a normal sign of the cervix opening.

7. Panting:

  • Your dog may start panting heavily as labor contractions begin. This is a way for her to regulate her body temperature and cope with the discomfort.

Stages of Labor in Dogs

Labor in dogs typically progresses through three distinct stages:

Stage 1: Dilation

  • This stage involves the dilation of the cervix to allow the puppies to pass through. It can last for several hours, and your dog may experience contractions that are initially mild and become stronger over time.

Stage 2: Delivery

  • Once the cervix is fully dilated, the puppies will begin to be delivered. This stage can take several hours, and the number of puppies born will vary depending on the breed and litter size.

Stage 3: Placental Delivery

  • After all the puppies have been delivered, the placenta will be expelled. This is an important stage as it ensures that all the placental material is removed from the uterus.

What to Do When Your Dog Goes into Labor

When your dog shows signs of labor, it is important to remain calm and provide a supportive environment. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Prepare the Whelping Area: Set up a clean and comfortable whelping area with plenty of towels, blankets, and a heat source for the puppies.
  • Monitor Your Dog: Keep a close eye on your dog throughout labor, monitoring her contractions and progress.
  • Assist with Delivery: If necessary, you may need to assist with the delivery of the puppies. Gently guide them out of the birth canal, taking care not to pull too hard.
  • Clean the Puppies: Once the puppies are born, gently wipe away any mucus or fluids from their faces and bodies.
  • Stimulate Nursing: Encourage the puppies to nurse as soon as possible after birth. This will help them bond with their mother and receive essential nutrients.

When to Seek Veterinary Assistance

In most cases, dog labor is a natural process that can be managed at home. However, there are certain situations where it is important to seek veterinary assistance immediately:

  • If labor lasts for more than 24 hours without any puppies being delivered.
  • If your dog is experiencing excessive bleeding or discharge.
  • If your dog is showing signs of distress or discomfort.
  • If any of the puppies appear weak or unresponsive.

Postpartum Care

After labor, it is important to provide your dog with plenty of rest and a nutritious diet. Monitor her closely for any signs of infection or complications. The puppies will require regular feedings and care to ensure their health and development.


Understanding the signs of labor in dogs is essential for ensuring a smooth and safe birthing process. By monitoring your dog closely and providing a supportive environment, you can help her through this important stage and welcome her new litter of puppies into the world. If you have any concerns or experience any complications during labor, do not hesitate to seek veterinary assistance promptly.

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