What To Look For During the Birth of Puppies

OK, the puppies are now coming. What do you watch for? When do I think there is trouble? Should we call the veterinarian? Take them to the emergency center (since it invariably is 2am.)? Here are some tips:

1) If you see a brown, black or green discharge from the vaginal area BEFORE any puppies have come out, call the veterinarian. Once even the first puppy has been born, you can ignore the discharge. You will often see these dark liquids after and between puppies.

2) If the mom is straining with labor, actually pushing with no puppies coming out, for a period of one hour with no success, call your veterinarian. If she strains a little, then rests for an hour, then strains a little more with no success, this doesn't count. If you see her actively trying for an hour without success, then call the veterinarian.

3) There are no rules for how much time there is in between puppies. I have seen bitches have puppies every ten minutes and some have them one every 24 hours. Each dog's pattern will be different. If you do not see her straining as noted in number 2, don't worry about the time between the puppies.

Hopefully, the mother will do the rest. The puppies do come out in a sac, but the bitch will remove them, eat the sac and chew off the umbilical cord. The puppies will all find their way to the mom's nipples. Don't worry about puppies wandering around the whelping box. They will find their way.

It is difficult to list and describe every possible complication that can occur. Most of the times, things go perfectly fine (especially if we humans don't mess things up). And if you follow the tips above and have one of the 99% of the dog breeds that have no complications, you will do just fine.

One last bit of advice. It is very important for the mom and the puppies to be seen by your veterinarian within 48 hours of whelping. This allows the veterinarian to be sure all the puppies are ok and we often will give the bitch an injection of oxytocin which will stimulate any other uterine material that is left to be pushed out.

Dr. Larry


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