When your pregnant dog’s due date approaches, it’s a good idea to be aware of the symptoms that she’s about to give birth. Here are some things to keep an eye out for.
Assuming your dog has been pregnant for the whole 63-day period and you have a good idea of when she could deliver, you should be prepared to be there for her when she needs you the most. Several things take place before a dog gives birth during her gestation. Watch for indicators like nesting behavior, decrease in appetite, panting, and more to see whether your dog is about to give birth. Another way to forecast when your dog will give birth is through the use of a proven prediction method.
If this is your first time helping a pregnant dog, you should know the signs that your dog is about to go into labor so you can be ready. If you have helped a dog through pregnancy before, you might already know about these signs, but it wouldn’t hurt to review them before your dog gives birth.
Signs That Your Dog Will Soon Go into Labor
1. Nesting Behaviors
While nesting behavior continues during birth, pregnant dogs may become more interested in making nests or cozy spaces near the start of labor.
Pregnancy in dogs typically lasts between 62 and 65 days. This is because the instinctual impulses of dogs to get pregnant include finding or creating a safe place to give birth to their litter. By setting aside a space for the birth, you can help your dog find the right place. This will make labor easier by showing your pooch where is safe to have her puppies. It can also help with cleanup.
Dogs nearing labor might have different emotional needs. Some dogs will be more dependent on their owners and may want to be close to them all the time. Others may become less attached and distant from their owners.
It doesn’t matter if your dog is more reserved, but it is important to be present (or near) when your dog goes into labor.
2. Temperature drop
A decrease in temperature is one sign that your dog is about to go into labor. The normal temperature for dogs is 101 degrees Fahrenheit. However, 12-36 hours before labor, the temperature of a pregnant dog will drop to 99 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
A rectal thermometer is the best way to determine your dog’s temperature. You should check your dog’s temperature at least once a day when she is nearing the 62-65-day mark of her pregnancy.
You may not want to feed her once her temperature drops. This will prevent her from vomiting during birth. Make sure she has a whelping container or birthing area ready.
3. Lower Interest in Food
Pregnant dogs who are nearing labor are more likely not to eat as much because of the increased pressure on their internal organs. It is not uncommon for a dog to experience large bowel movements in the days before labor begins.
Some dogs can be very food-driven. They will eat whatever food is available, regardless of physical discomfort. It may be wise to withhold food if there are signs of labor coming on. This will ensure that the dog does not become sick.
It is a good idea for dogs to be well hydrated during labor. It is quite common for dogs to consume the placenta immediately after giving birth, even though it sounds gross. This gives them the energy they need to carry on labor. You might want to keep a water bottle handy in case they need it.
Pregnant dogs may not be able to eat before giving birth, as we have already mentioned. They may vomit or become nauseated if they eat. This is why it is important to keep an eye on temperature changes and to withhold food if the temperature drops below 99 degrees.
5. Shivering, Restlessness, or Panting
While some dogs are more relaxed before giving birth, it is more common for pregnant dogs to become anxious during labor. Although she may groan or whine when contractions are starting, it is more common for a pregnant dog to show anxiety by excessive panting or pacing in the area of birthing.
6. Enlarged Mammary Glands
The mammary glands of your dog will have been growing throughout their pregnancy. However, they will continue to grow in the days before labor. They may experience milky discharge if they are getting close to labor.
It is important to clean the area where the puppies were born in order to prevent mastitis or other infections that could harm lactating dogs. After the puppies have been born, it is important to allow them to eat as soon as possible. This helps the dog continue her labor and releases oxytocin.
8. Vulva licking has increased
You may notice that puppies’ vulva and lower backs might protrude more as they move through the birth canal. Pregnant dogs may lick their genitals, especially the vulva, more often before and after labor.
It could be because she is uncomfortable, but it may also be because she wants to be clean. Dogs can experience blood, vaginal discharge, or other birthing fluids during labor and many dogs have natural instincts to clean their own bathrooms.
She is likely to try to clean her uterus after she has gone into labor.
Although the early stages of contractions are less obvious than those that occur during pushing the puppy out, you might still be able to see them in the muscles behind the dog’s back. You may notice your dog becoming uncomfortable and hunched. As the contractions get stronger, her tail may become stiffer and curl toward her body.
Some dogs may prefer to lie down during contractions or to crouch, while others will be more comfortable standing.
10. Hardened Abdomen
It is common for the belly of a pregnant dog to harden and appear larger as a result of contractions.
11. Amniotic Sac Emerging
Although it is possible for the sac to break, it is not unusual for an emerging puppy to be surrounded and attached to the placenta by the amniotic cyst. The amniotic sac and the puppy within will usually appear before the placenta. However, this is not always true.
The mother will know if the sac is pushing out from her body. Momma dogs usually clean and licks their puppies after they are born. They also break the amniotic sacs and chew the umbilical cords (often eating the placentas prior to or afterward).
You can help the puppy to get out of its sac and rub it to aid in breathing. If they are struggling to breathe, you might need to give them a bulb syringe. In some cases, you may also need to do CPR.
While some dogs become more reserved as labor approaches, others will need your love and support throughout the entire process. Dogs are capable of managing labor in many cases and will emerge from it with healthy, hungry puppies.
Sometimes things can go wrong. If this happens, however, you need to be alert to the signs that your dog is in labor.
Frequently Asked Question
Q. I thought my dog was getting pregnant. But, it’s been over 64 days since she was bred. And puppies have not yet appeared.
If your dog is suspected to be pregnant and has not given birth or shown signs that she will give birth by the 65th day, you should take her to the vet. Your vet can help you decide how to proceed with C-sections for some dogs.
Sometimes, intact female dogs that have finished their heat cycle, but have not been conceived, may experience a pseudopregnancy or false pregnancy. Their bodies may react like they are pregnant when this happens. They may gain weight and retain fluids, their mammary glands might enlarge, and their behavior may become more “motherly.” This usually lasts between 1-3 weeks.
Spaying can usually stop pseudopregnancies because it is driven by hormones. However, it is a good idea to bring your dog to the vet to check for any other health issues that may be causing her symptoms. A scan or hormone test may be done around the 30th days of pregnancy. X-rays are useful after approximately 45 days. All of these tests can help determine if your dog is pregnant.