Labor in dogs

Dog labor stages

Three stages of labor exist in dogs. Stage 1 is characterized by nesting behavior, restlessness, shivering, and anorexia. Bitches usually pant. The cervix dilates during stage 1. No external signs of uterine or abdominal contractions exist. However, uterine contractions can be documented using external pressure transducers (tocodynamometers) that are strapped around the belly. During dog pregnancy, uterine contractions are slow and tonic in nature. During stage 1 of parturition, uterine contractions increase in frequency, duration and strength. These changes are coincident with the decline in pregesterone concentrations, the decline in rectal temperature, and the change of the behavior of the bitch. As determined by the changes in rectal temperature and change in the damís behavior, stage 1 normally lasts for 6 to 12 hours. As determined by the change in uterine contractions until the delivery of the first pup, the duration of stage 1 was reported to be 12 hours in average.

Stage 2 is characterized by obvious abdominal contractions, passage of amnionic fluid and deliver of the puppy. Rectal temperature rises to normal. Stage 2 is usually accomplished in 3 to 6 hours. There may be intermittent, active abdominal straining for several hours before the birth of the first neonate. Constant, unrelenting straining is not normal. Usually less than 1 hour passes between the delivery of subsequent puppies.

The placenta is normally passed within 5 to 15 minutes of birth of each neonate. This is stage 3. The dam removes the amniotic membranes and cleans the neonate, severing the umbilical cord and eating the placenta. If the dam fails to remove the fetal membranes from the neonateís face, the owner should. Cleaning the neonate is important maternal behavior necessary for bonding between the dam and her offspring; thus the dam should be encouraged to do it. All placentas should be passed within 4 to 6 hours. If the owner is attending, the umbilical cord should be clamped and cut about 1 cm from the body wall. If bleeding occurs, the cord can be ligated.