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  1. dogs health and wellness

Dog Health and Wellness

Dog Health and Wellness

Fuzzy vets' expert dog health advice to help pet parents make better decisions for their pup's health and wellness.
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How Do I Help a Dog That's Giving Birth?

Posted by Dr. Roth on March 30, 2022

Medical Advice
What to do if?
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There’s nothing in the world quite like new puppies. Pet parents with a pregnant dog may eagerly anticipate the day their dog gives birth. At the same time, if they’re new to the process, the prospect can be a bit overwhelming if they’re not sure what to expect. Here’s what pet parents need to know about helping their pregnant dog welcome her new puppies into the world. 

Prepare the Nursery Ahead of Time

The first (and one of the most important) things a pet parent can do for their pregnant dog is set up a nursery for their dog. No matter what area of the house a pet parent chooses for the nursery, it should be quiet and free of drafts. The mother dog should feel safe and comfortable with her new puppies after they’re born. 

A whelping box is another integral component of a safe nursery. Pet parents should set it up so the mother dog can come and go freely, and the sides should be tall enough that the puppies stay safely confined.

Understanding the 3 Stages of Labor in Dogs

Pet parents should understand the three stages of labor before their dog gives birth. That can help them know what to expect, avoid surprises, and quickly act if there’s a problem. 

  • Stage 1: The first stage typically lasts 12 to 24 hours. Pet parents may notice changes in their dog’s behavior. She may refuse to eat, become restless, hide, or start nesting. 

  • Stage 2: The second stage varies in duration based on the number of puppies, but it shouldn’t last more than 24 hours. Each puppy should take no more than 45 to 60 minutes, with 10 to 30 minutes of active pushing. 

  •  Stage 3: The final stage of labor is the passage of the placenta. Each puppy has their own. After the placenta of one puppy passes, the mother dog will start birthing the next puppy.

How Do I Help a Dog That's Giving Birth? Tips for Pet Parents

While a dog may instinctively know what to do when it’s time to give birth, there are still a few ways pet parents can help out:

Remove the Membrane if Necessary

A thin membrane covers each new puppy. In most cases, the mother dog will lick or chew it off. However, if she doesn’t do this quickly, a pet parent can step in and do it for her so the puppy can breathe. This should be done very gently with a clean washcloth. 

Avoid Letting the Mother Dog Eat the Placentas

A mother dog may try to eat the placentas. While it may not cause any severe issues, most vets recommend against letting her do this as it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

Allow the Mother’s Natural Instincts to Kick In

Even if a pet parent has to step in to remove the membranes from one or more puppies, they should give the mother dog’s instincts a chance to kick in. They should allow the mother to clean her puppies and bond with them before stepping in to do anything else. 

Monitor Behavior

A pet parent may not have to get hands-on at all during the birthing process. However, they can help a mother dog after giving birth by keeping an eye on them and their new puppies. That way, if something is wrong, they can contact a vet for the appropriate puppy advice. 

When Pet Parents Should Seek Professional Dog Health Advice

There are a few signs that indicate a dog needs some help from their pet parents:

  • The mother dog has 30 to 60 minutes of contractions with no sign of a puppy.

  • There haven’t been any new puppies for more than four hours, and a pet parent is sure there’s still more.

  • The mother dog is showing signs of pain.

  • The mother dog has been pregnant for more than 70 days.

Issues can arise at any time of the day. The Fuzzy Veterinarian Team is on hand 24/7 through Fuzzy Vet Chat to answer any questions right away in any of these situations. 

Helping a Mother Dog Welcome Her Puppies Into the World

Generally, pet parents won’t have to do too much when helping their dog give birth. Even so, there are things they can do to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for the mother dog and her puppies, like setting up a cozy nursery for the birth. 

For the most part, the mother dog’s instincts will guide them, but pet parents can offer a hand with cleaning up after the dog gives birth and monitoring puppies for potential issues. Together, pet parents and the new mother can help to ensure the safe and successful delivery of healthy puppies.

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