If you're on pins and needles because your dog's two-month pregnancy is almost over and puppies could arrive any minute, relax -- most canine labor and deliveries go off just fine. Have your vet's contact information handy in case of emergency, and stay a distance from the mother as she delivers. Be ready to help only if necessary.
Make sure the mother dog has a quiet, warm place away from other pets when she starts giving birth. She's been in early labor for a day or so. Hard labor starts when you see her strain and a gray sac emerges from her vulva. That's her water sac, and it will break.
Once the mother dog's water breaks, the first puppy should arrive within an hour. It usually takes longer for the first puppy to arrive than subsequent puppies. It doesn't matter whether the puppies are born head-first or breech -- tail first. In dogs, both mean of entrance into the world are normal. Once that first puppy arrives, other puppies start arriving every 20 minutes to an hour. Keep an eye on the mother if puppies don't arrive after an hour of labor.
Taking a Break
After giving birth to a few puppies, the mother dog might decide to take a rest. That's normal -- she's exhausted. That break might last as long as four hours before she starts delivering the rest of her pups. Make sure she licks off the sac covering each puppy's face. If she doesn't, you might have to gently clean the nose so the puppy can breathe.
If the mother dog strains to deliver and a puppy doesn't appear within two hours, call your vet. If there's a brownish discharge from her vulva but no puppy arrives within two hours, that's another veterinary emergency; it indicates the placenta has separated from the fetus.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.