Pregnancy and Whelping – Labor

Labor begins when your dog begins to push out the puppies. Sometimes dogs act like they have to relieve themselves and want to go out. Go out with our dog and watch her carefully. She may actually be delivering a puppy. Dogs can deliver puppies from many positions, including laying down, sitting, squatting, and standing. Some dogs are silent while others grunt, whine, cry, or howl while pushing. Puppies can be born head first or rear-end first; each way is normal. Sometimes a rush of clear fluid comes out before the puppy. When a puppy is delivered through the vaginal area, the puppy may or may not be enclosed in a fluid filled sac. Your dog should lick at the new arrival and may bite and tear at the sac with her teeth. Sometimes she may pick up the puppy in her mouth. When placenta arrives she may eat it. It is not necessary to keep track of the number of placentas she passes as retained placentas are not a problem in dogs. Dogs use their teeth to rip the umbilical cord near the puppy’s tummy. If a pup only comes part way out, you can help the mom and gently pull on the pup (see below). If your dog does not perform the tasks of licking and getting rid of the membranes, then you will need to help. Since puppies are very slippery, use your washcloths to firmly grasp the puppy and wipe away all the fluid and sac from its face. Rub the puppy vigorously until you hear a cry. Use the ear syringe to suction fluid from the mouth and nostrils. You can use the floss or thread to tie off the umbilical cord about one inch from the puppy’s tummy. Then, saw the cord with the scissors blade. Once the puppy is cleaned up, dried off, and breathing well, weigh it and record its weight. Daily weighing of the pups is important and is the easiest method for making sure they are doing well. If all your pups look alike, you can mark them each with a nail polish on different toes or different places on their bodies. You can also use different collar ribbon. Make certain to change the ribbons as the puppies get bigger. Check the puppies frequently to make sure they do not get caught with their collars.

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