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Dog in Labor – Signs and Stages

There are five conditions for a good development of dog in labor:

  • Her surroundings cannot be changed
  • It must be clam
  • The tissue must be correctly dilated
  • There are enough uterine contractions
  • Fetuses’ size must be of normal size in relationship to pelvis and are in normal position; their legs must be in front of the head, which comes first.

Labor duration can be anywhere from 2 to 12 hours, though it can be as long as 36 hours in first timers. During this time, the dog will be agitated, anxious, digs the ground, and sometimes vomits. The duration between each puppy delivery varies between 10 and 60 minutes and placenta of the last puppy comes out at most 12 hours after birth, if not, you should call a vet. Fluids can be in green and it is normal.

The female dog remains in a sitting position during the efforts of delivering puppies.  When the fetus is coming out, it lays on her side with her head towards the vaginal area. It respirates fast and then slow and lasts until the expulsion of puppy.

Once the puppy within a sac comes out, the dog licks the puppy. If the tail comes out instead of head, the dog may does not recognize the puppy and does not lick.  Manual intervention of the owner will be necessary to keep the head towards the dog.

When the amniotic rupture tears and the puppy head comes out, it licks the head and cuts the umbilical cord 10 minutes after birth. The newborn will start breastfeeding almost immediately. If this does not happen, then the dog owner should help it out.

As such, the owner should be monitoring it periodically for the first contractions. If the sac does not come out naturally, then he/she should take the help of a vet or an experienced breeder to pull it out softly and the puppies should be cleaned and placed under a hot bulb to heat them up. Umbilical cord should be cut leaving out 2 cm.

Difficult Dog labors
Labor is a bit delicate in first timers. You should not be trying to pull the sac out if it is not coming if you don’t have experience.  It could be fatal. Oxytocin will be used to provoke contractions if needed. Most of the time, difficulty labor can be due to the large size of fetus, lesser contractions or lack of tissue relaxation.  If labor is not at all happening, vet can proceed with surgical intervention.

Difficult labors because of obstruction
Pelvis must expand to the size of the puppies to allow the passage of puppies. Keeping it in mind, you need to select the appropriate breed for mating. Because, few breeds have big heads like Scottish Terrier, Chihuahua, etc. If your female dog is of small size and you select a big-headed breed, then chances of obstruction during the delivery will be high. Puppy’s head must come out first with the front legs. Any other position may cause obstruction during delivery.

Narrow pelvis in few female dogs, especially young ones, is also a cause for obstruction.  That is why the recommendation of not to get your dog pregnant on her first heat.

Dilation of the Tissues
Dogs that are young or too old would have difficult dilatation of tissues, which in turn make the labor a difficult thing.

Problems with Expulsion
Though the puppies have the right size and position, females sometimes find it difficult to expel the puppies as they might not developed the right tone of uterus due to their previous gestations or their old age might have been causing issues. Some breeds can have muscular deficiencies like bulldog.

Cesarean Section
It will be done by a vet in case the puppies are not getting out. A cut is made at the neck of the uterus through the abdomen and puppies are pulled out. A light dose of anesthesia is used during this procedure. Then, the puppies are washed off the amniotic fluid, cleaned and put under a warm light.

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