Signs to look out for when your dog is giving birth.


Dystocia is the term used to describe a difficult or abnormal birth.


Dogs generally can whelp (give birth) without complications, however sometimes complications do arise in which emergency treatment is needed.


Complications can be due to the fetus, for example, being to large, or in an abnormal position.

Problems also arise due to issues on the mothers side, such as anatomical abnormalities in the birth canal, poor strength of contractions, or uterine infections.


Research has shown some breeds more likely to get into problems, these include: French bulldogs, Boston terriers, the chihuahua and pugs.


If your dog is expecting, you need to know what the signs of a difficult birth look like, and know when to get help.


The 8 signs of difficulty during labour are:

  1. Over two hours has passed since labour started, and no puppies have been born

  2. Green discharge from the vagina and no pups have been born

  3. More than two hours have passed between puppies

  4. puppy or fluid-filled bubble stuck in the birth canal, and the dog is continually straining for a few minutes

  5. Intense contractions for over 20 minutes and no puppy has been born

  6. lethargy or depressed behaviour in the dog, or her body temperature is over 39.4°C (103°F)

  7. Blood produced from the vagina for more than 10 minutes

  8. Puppy is in the breech position (it is coming tail comes first)

If any of the above signs are noted contact your vet immediately.



When you arrive at the vet clinic, a full check over will be done including a vaginal exam to check for any puppies in the canal.


The vet may need to do tests such as x-rays (counting the pups, checking size of the pup to the birth canal and looking for any abnormalities in presentation), ultrasound (to look at fetal heart rate and size) and blood tests of the mum (this checks her glucose and calcium levels amongst other things)

Sometimes expectant mothers need some supplementation of calcium or glucose to finish the job. Sometimes a puppy is stuck and with expert help the pup can be removed and the rest of the pups delivered normally.


If there is no hope of the pups being birthed normally (e.g. pups far too big for the birth canal) then a C- Section will be performed to safely remove the pups from the mum. This requires anesthetic so is not without risk, but is the best chance of getting both mum and pups safely through the birthing experience.


Being prepared for the birth, knowing how many pups to expect, and the signs that things are not progressing as usual are key for any owners breeding from their dog. That being said, the birthing experience can be a wonder to behold and there is no greater joy than seeing new life born into this world.

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