When a female dog gets ready to whelp, or give birth, she will exhibit signs that the early stages of labor are approaching. The two main things you can do for your dog is make sure she has a safe, quiet and comfortable environment in which to give birth, and be available and prepared to aid in the process should complications arise.
In the days or hours leading up to birth, your dog will most likely seek out a nesting spot. This may be the comfort of her kennel, a closet, a laundry room or some other secluded area. If your dog is an indoor-outdoor dog, bring her inside as she approaches full term, encouraging her to give birth in an environment that's safe from the elements. A dog who gives birth outside can become stressed if weather is bad or if other animals are around her during the whelping process.
Your dog is most likely to show signs of stress in the early stages of labor, when she begins to get restless and possibly pace. She may become anxious, whine or even vomit. As contractions began, she may experience discomfort that can elevate her stress levels. You can help her through this stage by speaking to her in soft tones and comforting her. If she seems agitated or further stressed by your presence, back off to give her space.
Labor and Delivery
As your dog begins to give birth, she'll be preoccupied with each pup as they whelp, biting through umbilical cords and cleaning bloody membranes away. While you want to allow your mother dog to do as much as possible without intervening and stressing her, you can gently towel the newborn pups to encourage circulation and suction their mouths to promote good respiratory function. If the mother doesn’t bite the cords, tie them off with two sections of dental floss about an inch from the pup’s belly, cut in the middle, and swab the ends with iodine.
Late Stages of Labor
Your dog is likely to become fatigued as labor progresses. If she becomes overstressed, she may stop delivering puppies, which can be dangerous to both her and her unborn pups. You can decrease stress by moving pups to a warming box made of Styrofoam and a hot water bottle wrapped in towels. Feed the mother a treat like vanilla ice cream to keep her energy up and give her some much needed attention. If the mother becomes feverish or listless, contact your vet.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.