Whelping is challenging for both the mother dog and its owner. One of the most common questions I get from them is this: how long does it take for a dog to give birth between puppies?
The quick answer to this is that the time between each puppy can be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Still, some dams may take longer than that, depending on a few factors.
Below, I discussed dog whelping, how long you should wait, and other information to know before the arrival of the litter.
How far apart are puppies born?
To understand the duration of your pet’s birthing process, you should know that there are three stages to dog labor. Here’s a quick rundown of each one:
The first stage of a canine’s labor starts with contractions. At this point, your dog will start to become restless, reluctant to eat, and more likely to get in and out of the whelping box.
Take note that this stage isn’t the birthing stage yet. Overall, the first stage involves contractions that can last for up to 12 hours.
During the second stage of your dog’s labor, its contractions will become stronger and puppies will start to come out. You should expect a puppy to be born within every hour.
On average, a whelping dog will strain for 10 minutes followed by a puppy. The straining can be longer, especially if the puppies are quite big.
You shouldn’t panic if the puppies are being born tail first. This is completely normal and safe for canines.
Take note that the mother dog may take a break from straining, which is totally normal. Still, this period should only last for up to two hours.
If your dog isn’t popping puppies after the two-hour leeway despite having more, you should call the vet right away. In some cases, a mother dog may experience this complication, which warrants an emergency C-section.
Aside from that, you should seek veterinary advice if your dog is releasing a greenish discharge. You should do the same if fetal membranes are passing without the puppies.
The last stage of your dog’s whelping is the passing of all the puppies’ placenta or after-birth. Each puppy will have a placenta of its own, though there are extremely rare cases when two dogs may share one placenta.
The after-birth must pass within 15 to 20 minutes once the puppy is born. Remember that after-birth shouldn’t have a foul odor; otherwise, you should call the vet.
Overall, the mother dog will restart the second stage of birthing with each puppy.
Can I make my dog birth faster?
Whelping can take up to 24 hours, depending on the size of the litter. If your dog isn’t starting labor yet, there are some options you can try.
First, you can take the mother dog for a short walk around the neighborhood. This will allow the puppies to get lower into the birth canal while helping the mother dog relax.
However, if your dog is already overdue for labor, the veterinarian will step in. The vet will induce your pet’s labor through the injection of the oxytocin hormone.
You can actually ask for the oxytocin prescription for your pet ahead of the delivery date. This will be administered using a syringe, which the veterinarian will demonstrate to you.
How to help your dog during birth
It’s important to prepare for your dog’s whelping. This way, the process will be less stressful for both you and your dog.
Here are things you can do to help your doggo:
Before whelping, it’s important that the mother dog sees a veterinarian. This way, your pet can be examined well and the vet can reduce potential risks during the birthing process.
Aside from checking the mother dog and the litter’s health, you should also prepare the following:
1. Whelping box
Your dog needs a comfortable whelping box where it can comfortably lie down. It should have a considerable depth to prevent the puppies from escaping while allowing the mother dog to get in and out.
For this part, you can build a whelping box from scratch or simply purchase a premade one. If you don’t have the budget, a rigid and large cardboard box will also do.
Make sure that you place the whelping box in a quiet area in your house. The spot should have the least foot traffic and the temperature should be kept at around 71F.
2. Milk replacers
In some cases, the mother dog may experience problems during whelping. When that happens, you may need to hand-feed the newly born pups.
Milk replacement formulas for newborn puppies can be purchased directly from your dog’s veterinarian. You can also ask the vet for a recommendation, so you can have it handy.
And while you’re shopping for a puppy milk replacer, you should get a nursing kit, too.
3. Contact details of the vet
Anything can happen while your dog is whelping. It’s important that you have emergency contact with the vet before your dog starts the birthing process.
Take note that you’ll have to call the vet if your dog isn’t producing puppies despite straining, if there’s a bad odor on the after-birth, and if there’s a greenish discharge from your pet. Any unusual occurrences while your dog is in labor also require the expertise of a veterinarian.
Once your dog is in labor, you should keep your distance and let nature take its course. Most dogs like birthing alone and they don’t need much help giving birth to their puppies.
It’s amazing how the maternal instincts of dogs kick in while giving birth. So while you’re waiting, here are a few things you can do to help:
1. Keep observing your dog
You can watch your dog from a distance to monitor its labor. If your dog is straining for more than 30 minutes without producing a pup, you should call the vet immediately.
Take note that you should never help your dog give birth. Touching the canine while straining may interfere with the birthing process with some doggos becoming aggressive.
2. Check the puppies
You should also check the puppies, but don’t touch them. Make sure that no pup is stuck underneath the mother doggo as this can lead to death.
If one of the pups isn’t moving or has a stiff body, you may need to perform CPR. It’s also best to call the vet, so you’ll be guided on the right thing to do.
Also, you may need to assist if the mother dog failed to remove the umbilical cord of the puppy.
Your dog will need increased care after giving birth. This is to keep the doggo healthy, so it can nurse the puppies appropriately.
Here are a few things you should do after the birthing process:
1. Feed the mother dog well
You should ensure that the dam is receiving proper nutrition. This is crucial for the production of milk, which the puppies need.
A mother dog will have a drastic increase in appetite as soon as the puppies start nursing. You will need to increase the food serving to keep up with the energy demand.
For the most part, you can feed the same diet to the mother dog after whelping. You can also consult the vet about giving the pooch a probiotic supplement since diarrhea is quite common at this stage.
2. Clean up your dog’s rear
Discharge is normal within the first few days after whelping. Make sure that you wipe your dog clean to prevent infections and the formation of bad odor.
Take note that you should wait for at least a week before giving the mother dog a bath. This is to remove any after-birth substances that got into its coat.
3. Monitor the dog’s potty trips
After whelping, you can follow your pet’s normal potty schedule. You should check if it’s defecating and urinating normally.
Again, diarrhea is common in dogs after giving birth. But if it persists for days, you should call the vet as dehydration may occur.
Overall, if your dog is exhibiting difficulty peeing or defecating, you should bring it to the vet. There might be an underlying complication that requires treatment.
Can puppies be several days apart?
Puppies can never be several days apart. The maximum time between birthing each puppy is around four hours, with the entire whelping process taking up to 24 hours.
In the years of being a pet owner, I’ve never heard of an instance where a mother dog gave birth to puppies days apart.
If you believe that your dog is yet to produce more pups, you should call the vet if the waiting time is past two hours. A stuck puppy can be life-threatening for both the mother dog and the offspring inside.
How long will a dog take to have puppies once labor starts?
Once the first onset of labor starts, the puppies may start to come out within 12 hours. You’ll notice your dog straining and becoming restless at this point.
However, if your dog hasn’t produced any puppy passed the 12-hour mark, you should phone the veterinarian right away. This could mean that your dog can’t have a natural birth and thus need to undergo an emergency C-section.
Overall, you should be patient and try to make the mother dog as comfy as possible during this first stage of whelping.
How do I know if my dog still has puppies inside her?
The mother dog will remain restless, straining, and whimpering if there are more puppies to come. Just note that it’s normal for the mother dog to take breaks of up to 2 hours after several puppies.
The best way to know whether there’s still a pup inside your dog’s tummy is to have it examined before whelping. This way, you’ll know the exact number of pups you’re going to expect.
If the mother dog is restless and not producing puppies for four hours, you need the help of a veterinarian already.
Should I leave my dog alone while it’s giving birth?
Most of the time, dogs don’t need their owners to watch over them as they whelp. Most canines can give birth without any assistance from its owner.
Also, most dogs prefer to be left alone in seclusion. This is a normal reaction since canines instinctively protect their puppies from potential dangers.
However, there are a few dogs that would love to have their pet owners by their side during labor. This is common among nervous and anxious dogs.
Overall, you shouldn’t bother your dog while it’s giving birth. You can watch from a distance but remain quiet and calm.
What happens if my dog doesn’t deliver all her puppies?
If your dog fails to give birth to all its puppies, it’s important to call the vet right away. Your pet might be suffering from primary uterine inertia.
Take note that the mother dogs need treatment for this as soon as possible. A C-section is needed to birth the remaining puppies.
If the C-section is done late, the puppy may die inside the mother dog’s body. The mother canine will also suffer from life-threatening conditions, including sepsis.
Can a dog be in labor for two days?
The first stage of labor will only last for 12 hours. If your dog is in labor longer than that, it might be experiencing a whelping complication.
In this case, you should call your dog’s veterinarian. Most of the time, dogs with stalled labor may need to undergo C-section to save the puppies.
How long does it take for a dog to give birth between puppies? Usually, it will take up to an hour or two for a mother canine to produce another pup.
Overall, the entire whelping process will not be longer than 24 hours. If you suspect complications, you shouldn’t hesitate to call the veterinarian.
Remember, being prepared is the key to helping your dog deliver its litter safely. This includes being in constant consultation with the vet and giving your dog extra attention.