Whelping Puppies, Dogs Giving Birth, Signs & Symptoms

A guide to whelping puppies and what to do when you spot the signs and symptoms when dogs start giving birth.

The normal pregnancy term for a female dog ‘bitch’ will normally last approximately 63 days. The 63 day time frame is from when your dog has mated with a male. This time frame can vary by as much as 6 days either side – so from 57 days to a maximum of 69 days.

It is very important that you keep a close eye on your pregnant dog throughout the pregnancy. During the last few weeks before she gives birth (about two – three weeks) you should start feeding your pregnant dog about 1/4 to 1/3 more than you fed her before she was pregnant. Your dog should also be fed small meals throughout the day as opposed to one large meal at dinner time.

You may notice that your pregnant dog’s appetite is very variable throughout the day and just like in humans with morning sickness your dog may vomit first thing in the morning and may even refuse food completely for you to 24 hours before whelping starts.

Whelping Puppies

A Step by Step Guide

1. Start by making sure that your pregnant dog is comfortable and in a secluded area that is dark and warm so that your dog feels ready to start whelping. A Cardboard box is the best and most appropriate place. Fill the floor of the box with clean newspaper – you should expect to see your dog shredding the newspaper when she starts whelping he puppies. This is normal behavior when a dog is ready to begin whelping puppies.

2. During the early stages of giving birth your pregnant dog may appear very restless and may even start panting excessively. When dogs start giving birth the process can take anywhere from 2 up to 24 hours.

3. The next stage is when your dog starts having contractions – if the newborn puppy does not appear one hour after straining and repeated contractions from the mother you should phone the vet (if you haven’t already).

4. You should expect to see a dark colored sack of fluid that will appear at the Vulva before the puppy is born – the newborn puppy will also be wrapped in another sack that is basically a fluid filled membrane. The puppy should be born shortly after this point – if not follow the instructions below (a vet should do this) but in an emergency follow the guide below.

  • Give some gentle assistance by holding the puppy’s head as it appears or the hind legs if the puppy is being born backwards.
  • Pull very gently and carefully downwards away from the pregnant dog’s spine (i.e. downwards away from the tail).
  • Do not force the puppy out and make sure you pull at the same moment as your dog strains.

5. The pregnant mother should attempt to tear open the sack immediately to release the puppy – the mother should also lick and dry the puppy once it is released from the sack.  If the mother is unable to do this independently you should do this by holding the puppy upside down which will allow the newborn puppy to drain his lungs of fluid.

6. The next stage is for the Placenta to be expelled – this looks like a liver and will be eaten immediately by the mother. Expect to see green and brown mixed with the expelled fluids. If the Placenta is not expelled you should take a note of the this as the Placenta should follow the birth of each puppy. If the Placenta does not follow the birth within one hour speak to a Vet.

7. When whelping puppies it is sometimes necessary to intervene when cutting the Umbilical Chord. Yo can do this with clean fingers or using clean Scissors. You should cut the chord about 1 1/2 – 2 inches from he puppy but make sure that you do not pull on the puppy’s stomach wall. Remember that your newborn puppy is very fragile and very easily injured so be very careful.

Congratulations you have learned the basics involved when whelping puppies.