Do Dogs Need Help Giving Birth on Their First Try?by Naomi Millburn
If you have a pregnant female dog in your care, being on hand while she goes through the labor process can go a long way, should any birthing complications arise. Most female dogs, however, do just fine in labor without much assistance from people.
One thing you can do to make your dog's birth process as smooth as possible is help her get everything all set up for the big day. From picking out the coziest, calmest and most silent area of your residence to arranging a relaxing whelping box, blankets and all, the goal is to ensure the mother dog feels as secure and self-assured as possible before going into labor. Try to arrange all of this about a week prior to your pet's expected labor date. Doing this allows your dog plenty of time to get used to the setting.
When it comes to birthing styles, canines, just like people, are all different. Many dogs appreciate the company of humans as they go through parturition. Many dogs also, on the other hand, favor doing things more privately. If your dog is in the latter camp, try to stay as low-key as possible, but also make a point to be immediately accessible should your assistance become necessary. A "primigravida" pooch is a first-time mom, and therefore requires even more diligent supervision than a more experienced one, all the way from the beginning to the end, in the event of difficulties.
It's important for you to be nearby while your dog goes through labor, but at the same time, it also helps to stand slightly back and allow your pet to do her thing, naturally. The goal is to carefully monitor her -- and any puppies she delivers -- for indications of whelping problems. Make sure you have immediate access not only to a telephone, but to contact information for your veterinarian, should a problem pop up. Keep your vet's normal phone number available, along with a second number in case the clinic isn't open.
Signs of Possible Complications
Dogs generally whelp without any issues. However, exceptions are always possible. If you notice that your dog has had contractions for between 30 minutes and an hour without any puppy coming out, notify your veterinarian pronto. Do the same if you pick up on any indications of severe pain -- think whimpering. If you're sure more puppies are inside and more than four hours go by without any of them emerging, vet assistance is also imperative. If your dog gives off blackish-green vaginal discharge without delivering her youngsters in a time span of between three and four hours, help is vital, too.
Certain canine breeds often, for health purposes, need Caesarean section births -- and therefore veterinary assistance during delivery. This applies to both primigravida and experienced doggie moms. Many brachycephalic canines need c-sections because of their notably big heads, for example. These breeds include pugs, Boston terriers, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, bulldogs, border terriers, Pekingese and boxers. Talk to your veterinarian about the safest and most appropriate birthing options for your bet, natural or otherwise.
- Woodbridge Animal Hospital: Normal Labor and Delivery in Dogs
- PetEducation: Whelping (Giving Birth) in Dogs
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Giving Birth to Puppies
- Hilltop Animal Hospital: Instructions for Whelping
- University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine: Whelping
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Breeding for Owners - Whelping in Dogs
- Parkway Animal Hospital: Breeding Your Dog
- McMillan Veterinary Clinic: Whelping
- DogChannel.com: Should You Plan a C-Section?
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images