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Marian Surgery

07 4914 2404

Mackay Surgery

07 4951 3799

Canine Reproduction

During Pregnancy

Pregnant dogs should be kept active and given ample exercise. They should not be pampered until late in gestation.
During the first 4 weeks of gestation, the food intake should be maintained at the maintenance level prior to breeding. From the 5th - 8th week, the intake is increased from 20 - 50% depending on the temperament of the dog. If she seems to be persistently hungry then increase the amount she is fed. Supplemental vitamins and minerals are generally not indicated unless there is a specific deficiency. If added to the diet, they should be given in small amounts. Dietary diseases are frequently created by giving too much of a vitamin, mineral, or even too much of a balanced food. We recommend feeding an extra meal (or two) of a premium quality puppy dry food daily from around 6 weeks into the pregnancy and continuing until weaning.

Preparing for the birth

The normal gestation period in the dog is 63 days give or take two days either side. If a bitch was bred more than one time, the gestation period may be proportionally longer. Prior to whelping, it is important to prepare a secure location for the bitch to whelp. When secure, a bitch will tend to relax and be less likely to have problems with the birth.

This is best accomplished by preparing a whelping box approximately 24" X 24" for a small dog and 40" X 40" for a large dog. It should have high walls on 3 sides to provide security and keep out drafts. One side should be low to allow the bitch to get in and out. It is very important to get the dog used to the whelping box 1-2 weeks prior to whelping. A good way to accomplish this is to place the box in the room that will be used at whelping and feed the dog in the box. This will help reduce anxiety for whelping time.

The First Signs

One to two days prior to delivery, a dog's rectal temperature usually drops approximately one degree below normal.(drop to 36.0c to 37.0c) It is easy to overlook this change unless the temperature is taken 3-4 times each day to chart normal daily variations that range from 38.0c to 39.5c. As delivery approaches, the bitch will usually become restless and begin preparation of a nest, hopefully in the whelping box. If the dog does not select the box, the box may be moved to the area she has selected. At this time, she may go off her food and want to urinate more frequently.


The first indication that true labour has developed is straining with the same intensity as with a firm bowel movement. As a general rule of thumb, the dog should be allowed to strain for 45 minutes consistently. We recommend that if a pup has not been delivered – or the birth is not progressing after 45 minutes of consistent straining CALL THE VET.

Delivery of the Pups

At delivery, it is normal for the head of the pup to present first. The chorionic sac (water sac) usually ruptures at this time, which lubricates the birth canal. The pup may be born with or without the inner amnionic sac around it.

If a pup is in the birth canal for too long, hypoxia (insufficient oxygen) may develop due to a progressive decrease in oxygen supply from the placenta and an inability of the pup to breath inside the birth canal. Delivery of such a pup may be assisted by grasping its limbs with a clean wash cloth and pulling gently in a downward, backward direction.

The bitch usually breaks the sac when a pup is born. If she fails to immediately clean the pup, the sac and mucus should be removed from the nose and mouth, and the pup rubbed vigorously to initiate breathing. Natural licking of the pup by the bitch also cleans the face of mucus and stimulates respiration.

The bitch usually chews the sac and cord and consumes them. However, if there are a large number of pups, some sacs should be removed and discarded. If she fails to consume the sac, the cord should be tied with thread about 2" from the pup and removed ½" beyond the thread. Healthy pups should start nursing immediately to obtain colostrum. Colostrum provides important immunity (maternal antibodies) for the pup that is only absorbed during the first 24 hours of life, and only if no other food has been previously consumed. Colostrum is also high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Suckling stimulates milk letdown and uterine contraction that assists in the delivery of the next pup or in expelling uterine debris and blood. This discharge may vary in colour, being green, red, or black.


Uterine Inertia

Uterine Inertia is a condition where a dog begins to deliver her pups and then stops. It is seen more frequently in the small breeds of dogs but may occur in any breed, especially in highly temperamental dogs. It may be caused by a number of conditions including pain and nervousness resulting from the presence of too many people, too much commotion, overly excited owners, or unfamiliar surroundings. Treatment consists of eliminating the cause if possible. If no contractions occur after 3 hours from when the bitch started straining


Uterine inertia may be prevented by familiarizing the dog with the whelping area prior to whelping, keeping the number of people in contact with the dog to a minimum, keeping calm, and by properly feeding and exercising the dog during gestation.


Eclampsia, also known as milk fever and hypocalcemia, is a condition in which blood levels of calcium decrease to a point where muscles are unable to contract normally. It may occur prior to, during, or more frequently after whelping. It may contribute to uterine inertia, as well as nervousness, apprehension, hyperventilation, high fever, convulsions and numerous metabolic abnormalities including toxemia and shock. Fevers above 40c may occur. Veterinary assistance should be sought as soon as possible if eclampsia is suspected. Eclampsia is considered an emergency condition but deaths are not common unless left untreated. Prevention may be achieved through proper nutrition prior to whelping Eclampsia is more likely to be seen in the bitches that are producing large volumes of milk and have large litters.

After the pups are delivered.

After whelping, the bitch will usually become quiet and relaxed, and should be nursing and caring for the pups. Normal food intake by the bitch usually resumes within 24 hours after whelping. If the bitch neglects the pups, a veterinarian should be consulted. A post whelping check for both bitch and puppies can be performed. Puppies should be wormed fortnightly until 12 weeks of age. See our friendly staff The first visit to the vet clinic after a normal whelping is usually at 6 weeks to vaccinate the pups.


  • Reasons for seeking veterinary attention earlier include-
  • Putrid or foul smelling discharge
  • Continuing or severe bloody discharge
  • Rectal temperature is higher than 39.5c
  • Bitch not eating 24 hours after delivery
  • Still straining 24 hours after delivery
  • Abnormal pup/s
  • Any other concerns

Call us on 4959 2099 or in Mackay 4951 3799