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When to call the vet if your bitch is having trouble whelping

Most dogs whelp 63 days +/- 3 days from the last breeding. There is usually a 1 degree drop in rectal temp (to 37-37.5C) within 24 hours of labour commencing.


Stage 1 labour (cervix opens, uterus begins contracting) lasts for 6-12 hours. They may be restless, pant or vomit during this time.

Active labour (stage 2) is actual pup delivery signalled by hard abdominal contractions. You should expect:

  • Delivery of the first pup within 2 hours of hard abdominal contractions commencing.

  • Once foetal tissues are protruding from the vagina the pup should be born within 30 minutes (front or back feet first is both normal).

  • Allow up to 2 hours between pups – most bitches will have a pup every 30-60 minutes, but some will have several pups then rest before finishing.

  • 20-30 minutes of constant hard pushing with no progress is usually a sign of a pup stuck in the birth canal.

  • Green discharge is a normal part of each pup’s placental sac, but excessive green discharge without pup delivery is another sign of difficulty.


Please reach out to us if your bitch is not meeting the above normal whelping times or she is excessively distressed or depressed.


What else to remember:

  • Feed the pregnant bitch puppy food throughout gestation.

  • Worm the bitch the week before whelping, then worm mum and pups every 2 weeks from 2 weeks of age until weaning.

  • Commence oral calcium syrup once whelping is finished, especially in small breeds where hypocalcaemia is a risk of early lactation.



Image via Craiglea Rural

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