My Pregnant Dog is Panting But Not Pushing
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Pregnancy can be a worrying time for dog caregivers. Even experienced dog guardians can become worried if certain physical or behavioral changes occur during gestation. One of the most common concerns is whether or not a dog is going into labor. Although most pregnant canines will appear in control of the situation, even if it is their first pregnancy, we need to be attentive to any possible issues. Some signs are a little ambiguous, such is the case if your dog starts breathing heavily.
In this AnimalWised video, we look at why my pregnant dog is panting, but not pushing. We look at the context of these symptoms to help determine whether the dog is in labor and what we can do to help them.
Why do pregnant dogs pant?
We first need to understand that a pregnant dog is panting for essentially the same reason all dogs pant. As dogs do not have sweat glands on the majority of their body, they need to thermoregulate in different ways. The most noticeable is by panting. Panting allows for the evaporation of excess moisture which helps to lower their body temperature. If a pregnant dog is panting, they may simply be feeling hot.
The reason for feeling hot is often due to a rise in atmospheric temperature. If we are looking after a pregnant dog, we will want to prepare somewhere cozy and comfortable. This helps the dog retain heat and they may pant accordingly. They won't be pushing at this point if they are not beginning labor.
A pregnant dog may be more likely to get hot flushes. For this reason, you may see a dog pant more than usual when they are pregnant. This is exacerbated in certain breeds such as those which are brachycephalic. The flattened skull of brachycephalic dog breeds can make breathing difficult at the best of times. If they are pregnant, the added discomfort of the fetuses can provide means they may pant more than usual.
The duration of a dog's pregnancy is between 63-67 days. While a pregnant dog can live a relatively normal life for most of this period, difficulties will arise leading up to parturition (giving birth). We must limit their exposure to heat, especially if they are pregnant in a hot climate. Exertion can also raise their body temperature, causing them to pant a lot. We should allow them to move of their own accord as they will slow down if they need to. If a pregnant dog is panting, but not pushing, we may simply need to help them cool down.
Panting pregnant dog in pain
Heavy panting in pregnant dogs is not always a sign of overheating. If they are not pushing, then it may be an indication they are in pain. Canines are often too good at hiding their it, so we need to look for signs they are experiencing pain. When we are petting a dog, we may see they respond differently when we put our hands on certain areas. For example, we may see they start panting heavily. There may be a lesion or wound to indicate pain, but sometimes increased breathing is the only sign we can observe.
When the dog is pregnant, such heavy panting is particularly worrying. While relatively uncommon, there are various complications which can occur during dog labor. We should look for signs such as bleeding from their private area, excessive licking of their genitals, foreign bodies in their skin, inflammation or any other possible symptoms. We need to ensure we look carefully in dogs with long coats.
Other worrying signs for which we need to be observant include a fever, loss of appetite, reduced movement, increased whining or anything which may suggest a health problem. In these cases, you must take them to the veterinarian immediately. Such complications can result in the miscarriage of the fetuses, as well as threatening the life of the mother dog.
Panting as a sign of labor
When a pregnant dog is panting heavily, it could be due to parturition. In these cases, we will need to look out for the signs a dog is entering labor.
One of the most noticeable signs a dog is going to enter labor is nesting. This is when the dog seeks out a safe and quiet place to birth her puppies. Other signs are less noticeable, such as a drop in body temperature. This drop will be from the normal temperature of about 102 ºF to about 99 or 100 ºF. We will only be able to determine this through a rectal reading, but it may not be worth disturbing the dog at this sensitive time to do so.
It is important to note whether a panting pregnant dog is pushing. If they are not due and are not making moves as if they are about to birth a puppy, it is due to one of the reasons above. If the gestation period of the pregnant dog has elapsed, they have nested and they start making pushing movements, it means they are giving birth. If the gestation period has not elapsed, it is possible one or more fetuses have miscarried. This will only happen in the latter stages of pregnancy as less-developed fetuses will be reabsorbed by the mother internally.
When a pregnant dog starts panting and pushing, the labor has begun. We can observe for complications, otherwise we need to leave the dog to it. She will innately know what to do and will tend to her puppies accordingly. If you see the pregnant dog panting excessively and no puppies are arriving, even if she is pushing, it could be a fetus is stuck or another complication has occurred. In this case, you must call a veterinarian immediately, detail the situation and follow their instructions carefully.
Unfortunately, there is a serious reason why a pregnant dog is breathing heavily. It is a pathology known as canine eclampsia. It more commonly occurs in females that have already given birth and are lactating. For this reason, it is most commonly seen when a dog is panting a lot after giving birth. However, it is also possible eclampsia can occur during the pregnancy.
Eclampsia is associated with hypocalcemia, i.e. a drop in blood-calcium levels. In addition to rapid breathing, we can see the dog is very restless, will make jerking movements (which can be confused with pushing), incoordination, fever, hypersalivation and other symptoms. Eclampsia is considered a veterinary emergency and the dog must receive immediate medical assistance. If the dog has already had her puppies by the time of the onset of eclampsia, the vet will prescribe artificial feeding until they are recovered.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to My Pregnant Dog is Panting But Not Pushing, we recommend you visit our Pregnancy problems category.
- Carlson, L.d., & Giffin, J. M. (2002). Canine Veterinary Practice Manual. Madrid: Editorial el Drac.