How do you know if your dog is having trouble giving birth? A Complete Guide

Treatment of Birth Difficulty in Dogs

If your dog is suffering from problems relating to labor she will most likely be admitted to the veterinary hospital right away. Supportive care will be provided as indicated and the patient is likely to be connected to an IV drip to maintain hydration and electrolyte balances. If the labor has been protracted thus far your veterinarian may recommend injections of calcium and dextrose to bolster the system and strengthen uterine contractions. If the pups are in an appropriate position and are not too large to fit through the birth canal, then oxytocin may be indicated to kick start or speed up labor, and the veterinarian may manually assist with the labor.

If these measures are not successful, or if the positioning or size of the puppies suggests that delivering the puppies traditionally would be detrimental to the pups or the mother, an emergency cesarean section may be recommended to protect the health of both the puppies and the mother.

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Symptoms of Stalled Labor and Delivery Problems in Dogs

The symptoms of stalled labor and delivery problems depend on the type of inertia the bitch is experiencing.

Primary Uterine Inertia

  • Failure to go into labor within 70 days after ovulation
  • Signs of pain or being uncomfortable, though these may be subtle
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale gums
  • Dark green vaginal discharge
  • Secondary Uterine Inertia

  • Prolonged labor
  • Straining without producing a pup
  • Longer than two hours between pups
  • Delivery of a dead pup
  • Distress or illness of the mother
  • Pup visibly stuck in the birth canal
  • Dark green vaginal discharge
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    If you have any concerns during your dog’s pregnancy, particularly in the later stages, call your vet for advice. If you need to take her to the vet, take any puppies she has already delivered with you in a separate secure box with a hot water bottle or heat pad to keep them warm. Ensure the hot water bottle is well wrapped in a towel or similar to prevent overheating or burning the puppies. If it’s out of hours, contact your nearest emergency vet immediately. Worried about your dog in labour?

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    How to assist your Dog during Whelping – the delivery process

    Whelping is the process of a dog giving birth to puppies. Most dogs are capable of whelping on their own without difficulties. But you should keep a close eye on your dog throughout her late pregnancy and labour. Having a good idea of what’s normal for a dog in labour will allow you to spot signs of trouble early.

    Dystocia is the term used to describe a difficult or abnormal birth and can occur at any stage of the birthing process. Dystocia requires emergency veterinary treatment.

    You should contact your vet or, out of hours, your nearest Vets Now, if your dog’s labour lasts more than 24 hours, or if more than two hours pass in between puppies. This could be a sign of a serious difficulty, and both your dog and her unborn puppies could be at risk. Is your dog suffering a difficult labour or pregnancy?