How to Tell If Your Dog Is In Labor

Because your dog can't talk, it's difficult for her to tell you when she's about to go into labor. A dog's body undergoes a lot of changes throughout the pregnancy that may cause you to be alarmed. Dogs display specific symptoms that will allow you to know when the time has come for the puppies to be born. Read the tips listed below and learn about how to tell if your dog is in labor.

  • Time The normal gestation period for a dog is 63 days. Consult with your veterinarian to see when your dog became pregnant and approximately when she is scheduled to give birth.
  • Temperature According to the schedule that your vet provided, begin to take your dog's temperature throughout the last week of her pregnancy by inserting a thermometer in her anus. Between 12 and 24 hours before the birth, your dog's body temperature will drop from 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit (38.5 degrees Celsius) to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) [source: Purina].
  • Other symptoms Leading up to the birth, your dog will display a range of symptoms to let you know that her puppies are on their way. Your dog will create a nesting area for the puppies, where she will go when she's ready to give birth [source: Jones]. The onset of labor is often signaled by the dog becoming restless [source: Baum].
  • Vaginal discharge The final symptom to show you that your dog is about to give birth is vaginal discharge. The liquid will turn from clear to dark green. This is a sign that the placenta has become detached from the puppies [source: Purina].

Keep in mind that female dogs take their time giving birth. There is usually a 20 minute break between each puppy. If you see that your dog is straining to push the puppies out for over an hour and nothing is happening, call your vet [source: Purina].

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