The Signs That a Dog Is Ready to Whelp

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The Signs That a Dog Is Ready to Whelp
Imminent whelping can be identifed through several signs. (mother dog with puppy image by Phaedra Wilkinson from

When you have a female dog who is expecting puppies, it is important to be attentive to her behaviour. Being aware of the signs that a dog is getting ready to whelp will help you prepare for the birth of the puppies.

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A dog who is getting ready to whelp her puppies will be restless. She may repeatedly get up, lie down and shift her position. She may seem uncomfortable no matter what position she tries.


If the dog is getting ready to whelp, she may try to prepare a nest. This involves the dog scratching and pawing at her bedding, and she may tear up paper bedding to make a space that is going to be more comfortable for her puppies.

Loss of Appetite

She will loose interest in food. If she is turning down her favourite treats, it almost always means that she is getting ready to whelp.

Temperature Decrease

The normal temperature for a dog, taken rectally, is about 38.3 to 38.9 degrees Celsius. Around day 59 or 60 after she is successfully bred, her temperature will start to fall. When her temperature drops bellow 37.2 degrees C, she will start to whelp within 12 hours.

Change in Vaginal Appearance

The dog's vagina will appear soft and swollen shortly before the labour begins. There will also be a thick mucus discharge.

Early Milk Production

The female dog will begin to produce milk in preparation for whelping her puppies. For a dog who is having their first litter, milk might start coming from her nipples when the whelping in imminent. In a dog who has had one or more litters, the milk might start appearing 4 days before the whelping.

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