How do I Know When My Dog is Ready to Give Birth?

February 9, 2019
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

How do I know when my dog is ready to give birth? Whether you're new to the breeding arena, or simply want a refresher course, there are some noticeable signs dogs show right before labor. Use this article to more accurately estimate when your dog will go into labor and how to prepare for the day.

Last Week Before Birth

The last week before labor, the dog begins to nest. Once she creates her safe, private space, she usually makes many trips per day to the location. Also, sometimes her behavior changes during this time. She may seek alone time much more often, or if she has a very close owner, she might seek significantly more attention and cuddle time.

Physically, the week before birth, the bitch's mammary glands noticeably increase in size. This size change is meant to better accommodate the new puppies coming within the week. They appear as larger lumps around her nipples.

Two Days Before Labor

Once the female dog's mammary glands swell, she begins producing milk about two days before giving birth. She might even leak some milk. Sometimes you see a waxy material on the end of the nipples. This is dried milk. If you're taking her temperature regularly, this changes as well. How do I know when my dog is ready to give birth? Take her temperature. About two days before she goes into labor, her temperature drops to 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bitches become slightly uncomfortable and restless about two days before labor. They pace frequently and make even more trips to the nest. Also, if you watch, she'll lick her genitals often. Although she won't act agitated, she won't seem comfortable either.

Dog Birth Preparation

If you haven't gotten ready before this point, make sure you have some supplies on hand when your dog begins showing symptoms of labor. If you pay close attention to her signs, you'll have a week of preparation to get everything together. Make sure you have towels, scissors, an eye dropper, sturdy cardboard box, and surgical gloves to assist her and her puppies if needed.

Don't hesitate to call your veterinarian if you think your dog is straining too hard and not accomplishing anything during the birth. If you feel like her pre-labor behavior isn't right either, call the vet. Just keep a close eye on your bitch and you'll have a very good idea of when she'll go into labor.

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