Symptoms of dog labor complications

Written by sarah dewitt ince
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Symptoms of dog labor complications
A mother dog with her pups. (mother dog with puppy image by Phaedra Wilkinson from

The miracle of birth does not always go smoothly, and dogs are no exception. Labor complications can occur resulting in medical or surgical intervention. Watch your dog closely while she is in labour and help her through the process. Take notes on her progress and check in with your veterinarian if labour is taking longer than 24 hours.

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Foul Smelling Discharge

If your dog has a foul smelling discharge coming from her vulva, call your vet. Discharge is normal, but if the discharge smells bad, there is a chance that your dog has a uterine infection. This can occur before labour begins or happen after the birth of one or more puppies. Your veterinarian will most likely ask you to take her temperature and watch her closely. She may need antibiotics following the birth of her puppies if the odour does not go away on its own. However, a fever is a sign that the infection is serious. If her temperature does not go down, she may need to deliver the puppies at the animal clinic.

Lack of Progress

Lack of progress can occur if the mother is not physically able to deliver her puppies. Dystocia happens when the puppies are too large to fit through the mother's birth canal. The puppies can get stuck as she tries to push them out, resulting in death. This problem can also prove fatal for the mother. The only treatment is surgical intervention.

Call your veterinarian if your dog has been labouring for a long period of time (more than 24 hours) without any progress.

Excessive Bleeding

Excessive bleeding is often the result of uterine rupture or early placental separation. Uterine rupture occurs when the uterus tears. This is a rare, but serious pregnancy complication that can cause the mother and puppies to die. Surgical intervention is needed to quickly deliver the puppies. If the doctor is able to save the pups, some of them may suffer brain damage from loss of oxygen.

Excessive bleeding also happens when the placenta separates from the wall of the uterus too quickly. This usually causes the puppies to lose oxygen and die. However, some puppies may survive this event if a small section of placenta is still attached to the wall of the uterus.

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