Can puppies be born at 52 days? Expert Advice

Diagnosis of Early Contractions and Labor in Dogs

Diagnosis of early labor will be based on the symptoms and the expected time of delivery. If you monitor your dog’s temperature regularly, you may notice a drop about 24 hours before she goes into labor. Otherwise, symptoms of contractions will be the first sign that there is a problem. Early labor may not follow the normal stages.

Call your veterinarian as soon as you notice unusual symptoms in your dog. If she has already expelled puppies or fetal material, you should bring this to the veterinarian for testing if possible. Dogs often eat their stillborn offspring, so this may not be possible. The veterinarian will want to know your dog’s medical history, including the date the breeding took place and any prior births or pregnancies. Other medications, recent vaccinations, and possible exposures to toxins or infections are relevant. Any information you have about the puppies’ sire could also be helpful.

The veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination. Blood, urine, and vaginal cultures will be taken to check for infection or other abnormalities. Any expelled material will also be examined. It may be obvious upon feeling the dog’s stomach that there is still fetal material or puppies in the uterus. An abdominal ultrasound may be ordered to garner further information and to assess fetal heartbeats.

Sometimes a single unhealthy fetus may be aborted, while the others are carried to term normally. The veterinarian will try to determine the cause of the early contractions and labor, as well as whether your dog is fertile and capable of another successful pregnancy. Sometimes exploratory surgery could be necessary to check for abnormalities in the uterus.

Symptoms of Early Contractions and Labor in Dogs

If you think your dog is going into labor, you should contact your veterinarian, especially if it is more than a day or two before the expected time. Some common signs include:

  • Drop in body temperature
  • Restlessness
  • Lying on side
  • Anxious and clingy
  • Whining or other signs of pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils or staring
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Types

    We classify pregnancy loss according to the stage of gestation:

  • Early Embryonic Death – occurs before the embryos have implanted into the wall of the uterus. The dead tissue is usually reabsorbed and the pregnancy may go undetected. We wont know a pregnancy has occurred and there will not be any contractions or labor.
  • Spontaneous abortion – may occur at any time throughout a pregnancy. The fetal tissues are expelled from the uterus.
  • Premature birth – puppies are born before they are fully developed. If they are alive upon birth, they often need intensive care if they are to survive.
  • Can puppies survive if born on day 56?

    Many puppies born around day 56, for example, have lived to see the next day and survive, while others don’t even make it past a few hours. A dog’s gestation period of 9 weeks makes every day vital, therefore pups who are about a week early, although have a chance of survival, will need extra care.


    There are several conditions that can cause a pregnant dog, or dam, to experience premature contractions leading to preterm delivery of puppies. Bacterial infections, viral infections, death of one or more fetuses, ovarian cysts, hormonal imbalances, injury, malnutrition, a change in environment/moving, and basically any kind of stress that can send a dog into mental and physical distress can lead to early labor. In some cases, a dogs breed may genetically predispose it to preterm labor.

    Preterm delivery in dogs is defined by a birth that occurs before the ideal 60 days of gestation. Generally, puppies born at 58 days of gestation, or later, have a high chance for survival.

    If you find that your dog is experiencing early labor you will want to consult with your veterinarian. You will need to begin by giving your veterinarian a thorough history of your dogs health before and during pregnancy, her onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have brought this condition on. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, while being careful not to bring on any further undue stress. Standard laboratory tests may include a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis to make sure that there are no underlying diseases that are causing the premature labor symptoms. The blood tests will show whether your dogs progesterone levels are abnormally low.

    Ultrasound imaging will be performed to diagnose fetal death or abnormal position of fetuses, which may cause a difficult delivery. However, an ultrasound will also give your veterinarian a visual on the fetal heartbeats along with more fetal detail. If the puppies are stillborn, or if they die shortly after birth, they should be necropsied by your veterinarian to determine the cause of death.

    If your dog is going into labor early, immediately contact your veterinarian or call the nearest emergency veterinarian for guidance. Your dog will most probably require medical treatment, either for an illness or to remove stillborn fetuses.

    If your dog is pregnant you should not expose her to other animals in the three weeks before delivery and in the three weeks after giving birth. Even animals that have been living in your own house in close proximity with your dog should be segregated from her during this vulnerable time. As much as possible, keep the dog isolated in a warm, quiet room, where she can create a nesting area for herself and her puppies.

    Some dogs feel the need to be alone, while others have no problems giving birth with someone nearby. Some will even feel more comfortable with a trusted human companion nearby. If you can, provide both options to your dog. Do not give your dog any medications during pregnancy without first consulting with your veterinarian. This includes flea medications and vaccinations. If your veterinarian is treating your dog for anything, make sure to tell the doctor that your dog is pregnant. For example, you may allow your veterinarian to deworm your dog while it is pregnant, as long as you inform your veterinarian about the pregnancy.

    Do not board your dog in a kennel or otherwise move it unless you have no other option.

    If your dog has bloody vaginal discharge while still preterm, call your veterinarian for advice immediately. You may want to consider taking your dog to the veterinarian for a pregnancy check-up at 30 days of pregnancy to be sure that the pregnancy is progressing as it should.

    Most of the same precautions regarding medicines and vaccination hold true for the time following birth, while your dog is nursing her puppies. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog anything that might make its way into her bloodstream and milk.

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