The birth of puppies is an unforgettable event. While a bitch instinctively prepares for this, you should consciously study what exactly happens before, during, and after the birth of puppies. Then you can support your female in the best possible way.
As a rule, puppies are born between the 60th and 65th day of pregnancy. However, you should start preparing a week in advance. If by the 69th day of pregnancy there are still no signs that the puppies are about to be born, you need to take your female to the vet.
Preparation: This Is What You Need for a Dog Birth
When your puppies are due, the first thing you should do is prepare a whelping box in a quiet, warm place. It must be large enough for the bitch and her puppies and designed so that the mother-to-be can easily get in. Suitable whelping boxes are available, for example, in pet shops or on the Internet, and are usually made of (untreated) wood, but they are also made of plastic.
Depending on the size of your dog, you can also use a dog basket with a high edge. Here, however, you have to make sure that the edge is so high that the puppies really cannot fall out later. A stable, sufficiently large cardboard box is also suitable, but more for small dogs such as Maltese or Chihuahuas.
Also, have the following items ready:
- clean towels
- an infrared lamp to warm the puppies
- thread and scissors to tie off the umbilical cord if necessary
You should also have the number of your veterinarian ready in case of 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 dog: she will stop eating, may vomit instead, and appear very restless. Regular licking of the vulva is also one of the signs of the upcoming birth – the reason for this can be normal discharge, but also amniotic fluid that is already leaking out.
Generally, during the opening phase of labor, 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 the birth is imminent is the female’s temperature: about twelve hours before giving birth, her body temperature drops by 1 degree, from about 38 to 39 degrees to about 37 to 38 degrees. If the mother-to-be begins to pant and runs back and forth restlessly, it can start at any moment. Now talk to her soothingly, but otherwise, leave her alone.
Help with Childbirth: Your Dog Can Do It!
The puppies are born in an amniotic sac, which the mother usually licks off immediately. Only if she doesn’t do this should you step in and pull it off with your fingers so that the newborn can breathe. Then the mother animal bites through the umbilical cord – if this is not the case, you have to tie it off with the thread provided and then cut it.
In general, you shouldn’t intervene too early so as not to disturb your bitch during the birth – but also don’t wait too long, because that can be dangerous for the puppies. It’s a bit of a tightrope walk, and it’s best to get thorough advice from your vet beforehand. He can tell you how long to wait before stepping in to help.
Duration: How Long Does a Dog Birth Take?
Once the birth has started, i.e. the contractions have started, it usually takes two to four hours until the first puppies are born. It can take up to 12 hours for all the puppies in a litter to be born. Some of the small dogs are born only 15 minutes apart. But it can also happen that one to four hours pass between the puppies.
Immediately afterward, the mother will lick and clean one baby animal after the other. The little ones usually find the milk teats instinctively. After birth, your dog needs plenty of water and rest. The newborn puppies also benefit from the infrared heat lamp. If complications arise at any time during the birth or aftercare, you should contact a veterinarian immediately.
Speed Up Birth: Is That Possible?
If your dog takes an unusually long time to give birth or other problems arise, you should always consult the veterinarian. Under no circumstances should you try to hasten the birth yourself! There are various tips and home remedies circulating on the internet, but in the worst case, these can even be dangerous for your pet and the unborn puppies.
Instead, it is better to contact your veterinarian, who knows how to manually support the birth if necessary. In an emergency, he can also perform a cesarean section as a last resort to save the dog and puppies.