Birth, in general, is one of the most beautiful and wonderful things in the world to witness or experience, in all creatures. Much like humans have to prepare when they are expecting a baby, dogs prepare too, or we prepare for them. Needing to know certain facts about the pregnancy in anticipation of the pups.
As dogs have litters of up to 8 puppies, averaging at 6 it is useful to know exactly when it is that your dog has finished giving birth and all the pups have arrived.
So… how can you tell when all the puppies have been born?
Though dogs rarely need human help in their births, it is useful for us to know some things about the pregnancy so that we can be prepared to jump in and contact the vet in any case of an emergency or complication.
The size of the litter is dependant on breed, but will usually range from 5 to 8 pups. If you want to know the average litter size of your dog you can search this online.
However, if your dog is already pregnant and expecting puppies then upon week 6 of the pregnancy they will perform an X-ray to look at the number of puppies you should expect.
It is done at this time as the skeletons of the fetus’ have started to fuse and it will be easier to tell how many to expect. Although this is not always completely accurate it can give you an idea of how many pups to expect.
This way if you were expecting 6 pups and your dog has only delivered 4 and then stopped for over 2 hours, you can make the decision to call the vet and ask for assistance, as there may be complications.
Whelping In dogs is different in some ways from human births. Dog’s often need little assistance and may take regular breaks between the birth of each pup.
They do experience contractions and restlessness when they go into labor and as each pup is about to be born.
These contractions may cause your dog to shake and strain for 10 to 30 minutes before a pup is born. This can help you detect the arrival of each pup and keep an eye on the health of the birth.
Do not worry if your dog has not had all her pups and has stopped for a few minutes or hours.
Dogs will often take breaks, sometimes up to two hours, but if she has stopped for more than four hours or if she seems to have finished whelping but you were still expecting more, then it is best to call the vet.
Recognize the signs that she is still giving birth such as whimpering, whelping, panting, and is restless. These are a good indicator that a pup is on the way.
Dog birthing is also called whelping. Whelping has three main stages. The first, much like humans, is labor.
During this time the dog will likely stop eating and become restless, she may start nest or try to find a comfy area in which to give birth, this is like the dog’s version of going to the hospital.
It is worth noting that some dogs may like their owners to be present for the birthing whereas others with not, it all depends on the dog, so if your pregnant dog shows signs of labor, see if she is happy having you with her or not.
The second stage of whelping is birth or delivery. During this stage, the mother will start to strain and the first puppy will arrive within the first half an hour, keep track of this, if the mother is pushing hard and there is still no pup after thirty minutes, call the veterinarian.
As each pup arrives, the mother will lick their faces and noses, she does this to remove the membrane covering the nose. If she does not do this you will need to clean the pup’s nose yourself as otherwise, the pup may suffocate.
Each pup should arrive around every thirty to sixty minutes, but if there is no pup after an hour or two do not worry as she may just be taking a break. It’s hard work birthing that many babies.
Only call the vet if she has not birthed more for over four hours and you know there are more still in the womb.
Also take breed into consideration with the timing of the births, slender headed dogs such as collies or dachshunds will have easier births, whereas chunkier headed dogs such as bulldogs or great Danes will have a more difficult birth.
When the mother is done with each puppy she will take care of the Placenta. Be mindful of this. She will usually expel this and then eat it, remember the placenta and the membranes covering the puppies’ nose are different things.
The placenta is a large piece of blackish-green tissue that is expelled within five to fifteen minutes of each birth. It is totally okay and very natural for your dog to eat the placenta.
On occasion, it won’t emerge immediately but be aware if all or part of it does not leave your dog’s uterus, as this can have fatal consequences.
This is also why you should always ensure you, your dog and your puppies take a trip to the vet within two days after the whelping. To ensure your dogs’ full health.
Take note of symptoms of a retained placenta; fever, appetite loss, tiredness/ fatigue, green vulva discharge.
Birth is a wonderful thing in all animals and if you have a pet that is pregnant or that is not neutered then it is wise to be prepared for babies and know how to best help your pet.
The best way to know when your dog is done giving birth is to watch her for signs that she is done and to count the pup’s as they are born while keeping in mind the amount anticipated on the ultrasound