How do I know if more pups are inside when my dog gave birth?

Updated February 21, 2017

A female dog's gestation lasts about two months. Since a female dog may deliver one to 10 puppies in a normal litter, depending on the breed and breeding management techniques used, it can be difficult to know when a mother has finished delivering. You can use a combination of observations and signs to help know if your dog's labour is progressing well.

Feel the outside of your dog's abdominal cavity with your hands. With gentle pressure, you may be able to feel the shape of any puppies still in the womb.

Check around the puppies and mother for the placentas. After delivering each pup, the mother should also deliver a placenta for each puppy, reports Dr. Bari Spielman of If you do not see a placenta for each puppy shortly after delivery, this could indicate your dog is having a difficult labour and may not be able to deliver all her pups.

Time how long your dog strains and pushes without producing a puppy. Pushing and straining for more than an hour without delivering a puppy is a sign that a puppy may be stuck in the birth canal. Veterinarian Ron Hines recommends getting veterinarian assistance should this occur.


Mother dogs will eat the placentas, so counting placentas is not a foolproof method of evaluating the progression of labour.


Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately if you are concerned that your dog is having trouble delivering all of her pups, as this is considered an emergency.

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About the Author

Lynn Anders has more than 15 years of professional experience working as a zookeeper, wildlife/environmental/conservation educator and in nonprofit pet rescue. Writing since 2007, her work has appeared on various websites, covering pet-related, environmental, financial and parenting topics. Anders has a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and biology from California State University, Sacramento.