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Is my Dog about to Give Birth? Symptoms of Labor

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 21, 2018
Is my Dog about to Give Birth? Symptoms of Labor

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As long as you take a responsible attitude towards the mother and her puppies, to witness the birth of a litter at home is an amazing and very formative event. However, before your dog gives birth to puppies, it is essential that you learn about pregnancy in dogs and the necessary care you must provide during this period.

It's also extremely important to know about the symptoms of labor in dogs so that you can recognize signs of dog labor and address them correctly. Are you wondering whether your dog is in labor? Keep reading here at AnimalWised to find out!

You may also be interested in: Dog Panting After Giving Birth

How long are dog’s pregnant?

A dog's pregnancy lasts about 9 weeks. In fact, a dog can go into labor anytime during the ninth and final week of it’s pregnancy. Before labor, however, a dog will show clear signs that she is going into labor.

While a bitch instinctively knows that her body has all the resources necessary to undergo delivery without intervention, it is still important that she knows that her human family is by her side. Keep reading to find out how to know if your dog is about to give birth.

In addition, if you want to know more about the different phases of dog pregnancy, take a look at our article on; Dog Pregnancy - Week By Week.

Is my Dog about to Give Birth? Symptoms of Labor - How long are dog’s pregnant?

Dog Labor - dog ‘nesting’

The main sign that your dog is about to give birth is referred to commonly ‘dog nesting’. A couple of days before labor, your dog will start projecting "nesting behavior". Dog nesting normally occurs in a dog’s final week of pregnancy. She will look for a sheltered and comfortable space in her home in which to give birth to her puppies: if she has her own bed and it's placed in a good location, she may choose it as the nesting location for delivery.

Once labor is near, your dog will become more restless and agitated. A very obvious symptom that a dog is about to give birth is that she will lay down, but still appear to be uncomfortable. A dog that is going into labor will move a lot and keep changing position, trying to get comfortable.

Dog labor - Loss of appetite and decrease in body temperature

Is your pregnant dog not eating? This is another common sign that a dog is going into labor. Loss of appetite in dogs, although not always, can sometimes occur when a dog is about to give birth.

Another important signs that a dog is about to give birth, is a change in body temperature. A dog that is close to labor may experience a slight decrease in body temperature. Under normal conditions dogs have a body temperature of about 38 °C (100.5 ºF), but approximately 12 hours before delivery it decrease to between 36 and 37 °C (96.5 to 98.5 ºF).

Genital and uterine symptoms in dog labor

The most obvious symptom of labor in dogs are manifested through a dog’s reproductive system. Before giving birth, your dog will eject a mucous-like flow of a yellowish-white color through her vulva[1]. This signals the ejection of the plug which is protecting the entrance to a dog’s uterus. Once this expulsion has occurred, the first puppy can take from 30 minutes to 12 hours to be birthed. These birthing times will depend on each individual dog.

Nearing a puppy’s birth, a dog will constantly lick her genital area to keep it clean. She also does this to allow for a cleaner a better better exit for the puppies, as well as calm the inflammation and pain that she may feeling in this area.

Finally, another decisive symptom of dog labor are uterine contractions which allow for a puppy's exit. These uterine contractions in dogs are easy to observe. Pay attention to your dog's belly, and you should notice rhythmic movement. Your dog in labor may also express signs of pain, which in this context are completely normal.

Complications in dog labor

There are complications that may occur during a dog's labor period which will require urgent veterinary care. Some dog labor problems include; the puppies may get stuck in the birth canal, the mother may have difficulties cutting her umbilical cord or there may be major damage to your dog’s uterus structure.

It is extremely important that during your dog’s labor period, you have your veterinarian’s number at close distance. If you notice any symptoms that may indicate that there might be a problem during your dog's labor, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian immediately.

In addition, poor sanitary conditions after dog birth may lead to mastitis or other labor-related infections and diseases. Therefore, once the puppies have been born, make sure to call your vet for advice on proper after-birth dog hygiene and a thorough check-up.

For more about possible complications during dog labor, take a look at our article; Complications In Dog Labor.

Is my Dog about to Give Birth? Symptoms of Labor - Complications in dog labor

If you want to read similar articles to Is my Dog about to Give Birth? Symptoms of Labor, we recommend you visit our Gestation category.

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7 comments
Lynn
I think my dogs in labor she's been nesting but now she's just laying there but no babies yet she just wants to be by my side .
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Lynn,

Good luck, let us know how it goes!
Clair
My girl is due any day now (Rottweiler)
She has been on and off food for a week and not drinking much either had small amounts of mucus for a few days! Her temperature been under a hubdred for 4 days and now looks like her belly dropped! No nesting yet though
Kristine
My dog is close to having her puppies and rite now shes been walking and wont sit then she lays for a bit and gets up again and she has a runny nose would that be a symptom of going into labor?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Kristine,

A runny nose shouldn't be a symptom of going into labor. When a dog is ready to give birth, they generally start to go into nesting mode rather than walking around a lot, so you may have some more time before they give birth. However, we can't be sure and the dog would need a medical exam from a vet to look at all the symptoms in case there are any complications.
Shirley Burnett
Our chihuahua is pregnant with her first litter. Yesterday I picked her up by her dudes and she hollered. I'm worried sick that I hurt her and her puppies. My vet is out of office this week. She acts like she is ok but I'm worried. Did I hurt the puppies?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Shirley,

It is impossible for us to say whether you hurt the puppies. Without a proper scan, a veterinary professional will not be able to tell anything either. Even a scan will only be able to provide limited information. You will need to keep an eye out for signs of a miscarriage, but it will depend on the stage of the pregnancy. In early stages, the fetuses will likely be reabsorbed by the body. But, if you know that your Chihuahua is pregnant already, it's likely they are at a later stage.

We will say that your dog is probably more robust than you give her credit for, even if she is a small dog like a Chihuahua. You would have to have caused sufficient enough damage to hurt mother and/or puppies. It seems unlikely that simply picking her up would cause such damage. It is possible she hollered out of fear or for a variety of different reasons. Again, we cannot say. She will need a medical examination. If your vet is away and you are still concerned, then you should take them to a veterinary hospital.
vicky
my dog is near labour but her stomic is hard and she is just lying. i dont feel the baby
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Vicky,

Our articles are there to provide general information. Unfortunately, we cannot provide specific diagnoses, so if you are concerned, then you should seek veterinary assistance. Good luck and we wish the puppies all the best when they come!
Nena
She was bred three times in April after the 11th ,around the 15th and the 30th what do you think she due
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Nena,

The normal gestation period for pregnant canines is around 63 days. There is no way we could know the actual date of conception, so you'll have to bear in mind it could be 63 days from any of them. Also, this is not an exact number, it could be a little less or a little more.

Also, we should ask, do you have experience breeding dogs? If you do not, please go to your vet and speak to them about what you will need practically and what precautions you should take in bringing a new litter into the world.
Susan wallace
My dog is breathing hard and fast and i think she is about to have her babies but i am not for sure tho

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