How To Assist with a Puppy Birth

Assisting with a puppy birth allows you to participate in an important event in your dog’s and new puppy’s life.  Though dogs normally give birth on their own, it is helpful if you assist with the birth, especially if your dog has experienced difficulties during past deliveries.   

  1. Know the approximate date when the dog gives birth.  The average duration of a dog’s pregnancy is two months.  Take note of the date when the dog has mated and become pregnant. Skip 60 days and mark the week that follows the 60th day as the week when the labor is most likely to begin.
  2. Know whether labor is approaching.  A dog’s temperature decreases when she is about to give birth.  Measure your dog’s body temperature with a rectal thermometer to get the most accurate temperature reading.  A dog’s normal temperature is 1010F.  Check daily to notice whether there is a pattern of decreasing body temperature, which indicates impending labor.
  3. Know whether your dog is in labor.  Observe your dog closely for signs of labor such as panting, refusing to eat, going to a quiet place and lying down.  If you notice these behaviors, follow where your dog goes and prepare for assisting with the puppy birth.  The birth comes at least 3 hours after the first contractions.
  4. Prepare the birthing area.  Put together a makeshift bed for your dog.  You may use an old bed, unused bed sheets, newspapers, and the like.  Make the area comfortable and private to help your dog give birth more easily.
  5. Pay attention to the vaginal opening.   Watch out for the labor’s progress, especially at the point where the puppy is coming out of the dog’s vagina.  If the puppy becomes stuck, gently pull the puppy out when the dog is having a contraction.  Take care not to pull too hard or you might injure the dog and the puppy.
  6. Give the puppy to the dog for cleaning.  After giving birth, the dog licks the newly delivered puppy to clean it.  This is instinctive, but when the dog is not responding, clean the puppy using a clean and soft cloth.  Remove the membrane and wipe off the blood to make the puppy comfortable.
  7. Assist the puppy in breathing.  When the puppy is not cleaned adequately, mucus may remain in its nostrils and prevent it from breathing properly.  Help the puppy breathe by using a small suction bulb to remove the mucus from its mouth first then its nostrils.  If this doesn’t work, carry the puppy and nudge its head downward to shake off the mucus.
  8. Cut the umbilical cord.  Tie the umbilical cord with a piece of clean and sturdy string.  Using a sterilized blade, cut off the cord on the far side of the tied portion, away from the puppy.
  9. Place the puppy in a box or basket.  Place the puppy in a container covered with soft and clean cloth.  See to it that the area is dry and warm to prevent the puppy from being ill.
  10. Give the puppy to the mother.  Place the puppy near the dog’s breasts to make the puppy drink its mother’s milk.  If the dog can’t find its mother’s breasts, gently put the nipple into its mouth. 
  11. Watch out for other puppies.  A dog gives birth to several puppies at one time.  The next puppy is delivered after at least an hour from the previous birth.  Take care of the following puppies like you have taken care of the first.

These are the steps in assisting with a puppy birth.  Though you have done all the steps properly, sometimes things may still go out of hand.  If your dog shows extreme difficulty in giving birth, or if the puppies look sickly, call your trusted veterinarian. 


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