After about nine weeks of pregnancy, puppies are born. Read here how you notice that the birth is imminent and what you should do as a dog owner during the birth.
The bitch’s pregnancy lasts between 57 and 65 days. Larger litters often have shorter pregnancy periods than litters with few puppies.
Birth is imminent: Signs that labor is about to begin
As a rule, the puppies are born between the 57th and 65th day of pregnancy. Signs that labor is imminent in the next six to 24 hours include:
- The bitch’s body temperature drops by one to two degrees. When the birth begins, however,
- the temperature rises again to around 38 °C.
- The bitch’s pelvic bones are more visible than usual.
- The bitch has little or no appetite.
- The bitch becomes restless and seeks out her “nest”.
Other signs can be:
- licking the vulva
- slight discharge
- Panting, whimpering, trembling
If after 65 days there are still no signs that labor is about to begin, you should have your dog examined by the vet.
The birth of the puppies
You can recognize the beginning of the birth by the loss of amniotic fluid, the bitch trying to push and the drop in her body temperature to the normal range.
Usually, about half an hour passes between the birth of the individual puppies. But it can also be just a few minutes or up to two hours in between. Often the mother dog will rest between the births of each pup.
You can usually tell whether the birth is complete by the behavior of the bitch. After cleaning herself, she lies flat on her side with her legs stretched out. The puppies are then spread out on the teats and are already sucking the most important first milk, the colostrum. If the bitch is restless or apathetic after giving birth, you should contact a veterinarian.
Support the dog during birth
Normally, a healthy bitch manages to give birth on her own. Therefore, leave the dog alone as much as possible, but be there all the time and observe everything. It is advisable to have the veterinarian’s phone number ready in case of an emergency. You should ask him beforehand when he can be reached on which number or who you should contact in an emergency outside his office hours.
The mother dog usually cuts the umbilical cord herself, frees the puppies from the amniotic membrane, and stimulates breathing with licking. If she doesn’t do this for any reason, e.g. because she is already busy giving birth to the next puppy, you have to take care of that! Then remove the amniotic sac and rub the pup dry against the grain with a clean rag. Clean his mouth and nose. Also, you need to cut the umbilical cord if the bitch won’t do it. Your vet will explain exactly how this works and what to look out for.
Make sure there is an afterbirth with each puppy. This usually happens within 15 minutes of a puppy being born. It can also happen that several afterbirths are lost in a row if the puppies were born in quick succession. Most bitches eat afterbirth because it is very high in protein and provides the bitch with a lot of energy after the strenuous birth.
When should a vet be contacted?
As the health center for small animals in Lüdinghausen explains, you should contact a veterinarian in the following situations:
- after a drop in temperature, the temperature rises again, without the onset of labor
- Green vaginal discharge without a puppy having been born before
- Loss of amniotic fluid and 2-3 hours later no puppies were born
- Sore pains and no puppies born after 30 minutes
- more than 2 hours pass between two puppies
You should also contact a veterinarian if not all of the afterbirths have passed. Otherwise, of course, you should always call a veterinarian if anything strikes you as odd and you suspect a complication.
Be sure to talk to your vet in detail before giving birth! He knows you and your bitch and will advise you individually and give you tips. He can also explain to you in detail what the warning signs are during or after childbirth.
After the birth, the nursing mother needs high-quality dog food. Be a bit careful with the first steps outside and show consideration for your dog. It is important that you weigh the puppies regularly. Do you have contact with the puppies, but allow the new dog family a lot of rest and time for themselves. In the first three weeks, the mother dog does most of the work alone anyway.