Birth in dogs: Signs, duration & process of giving birth to puppies
The birth of dog puppies is an unforgettable event. While a bitch instinctively prepares for it, you should consciously deal in advance with what exactly happens before, during, and after the birth of puppies. Then you can support your bitch in the best possible way.
As a rule, puppies are born between the 60th and 65th day of pregnancy. However, it would help if you started with the preparations one week before. If by the 69th day of pregnancy there are still no signs that the puppies are about to be born, you will need to take your bitch to the vet.
Preparation: what you need for a dog birth
When your puppies are about to be born, the first thing you should do is to prepare a whelping box in a quiet and warm place. It must be large enough for the bitch and her puppies and designed so that the expectant mother can quickly get into it. Suitable whelping boxes can be purchased, for example, in pet stores or on the Internet, and are usually made of (untreated) wood, but they are also available in plastic.
Depending on the size of your dog, you can also use a dog basket with a high edge. Here, however, you must make sure that the border is so high that the puppies really can not fall out later. A sturdy, sufficiently large cardboard box is also suitable, but rather for small dogs such as Maltese or Chihuahuas.
Also, have the following utensils ready:
an infrared lamp to warm the puppies
twine and scissors for possible tying of the umbilical cord
It would help if you also had your vet’s number ready in case of any complications.
When does it start? Signs that the puppies are about to be born
As an attentive owner, you will notice certain behaviors in your bitch: she stops eating, may vomit instead, and looks pretty restless. Regular licking of the vulva is also one of the signs of the upcoming birth – the reason for this can be normal discharge and already leaking amniotic fluid.
Generally, during the opening phase of birth, the mucus plug in the cervix loosens, allowing clear mucus to come out. From now on, it usually takes between six and 36 hours until the first puppies are born.
A clear sign that birth is imminent is the bitch’s temperature: about twelve hours before parturition, her body temperature drops by 1 degree, from about 38 to 39 degrees to about 37 to 38 degrees. If the pregnant mother starts panting and pacing back and forth restlessly, it could begin at any moment. Talk to her soothingly now, but otherwise, leave her alone.
Help with the birth: Your dog can do it!
Dog puppies are born in an amniotic sac, which the mother usually licks off immediately. If she doesn’t do that, you should intervene and pull it off with your fingers so that the newborn gets air. After that, the mother bites the umbilical cord – if this is not the case, you have to tie it with the provided twine and then cut it.
In general: You should not intervene too early to disturb your bitch during birth – but also not wait too long because this can be dangerous for the puppies. It’s a bit of a balancing act, and it’s best to get thorough advice from your vet beforehand. He can tell you how long you should wait before you intervene.
Duration: How long does a dog’s birth last?
Once the birth has begun, i.e., the contractions have started, it usually takes two to four hours until the first puppies are born. In total, up to twelve hours can pass until all puppies of a litter have been paid. The little dogs sometimes come into the world with an interval of only 15 minutes. But it can also happen that one to four hours pass between the puppies.
Immediately afterward, the mother will lick and groom one baby animal after another. The little ones usually find the milk teats instinctively after birth; your dog needs, above all, a lot of water and rest. The newborn puppies also benefit from the infrared heat lamp. If any complications arise during the birth or postpartum care, you should notify a veterinarian immediately.
Speed up the birth: Is it possible?
If your dog’s birth is unusually protracted or there are other problems, you should always consult the vet. Under no circumstances should you try to speed up the delivery yourself! Although various tips and home remedies are circulating on the Internet, these can even be dangerous for your pet and the still unborn puppies in the worst case.
Instead, contact your veterinarian; he knows if necessary to support the birth manually. He can also perform a Caesarean section as the last option to save dogs and puppies in an emergency.