10 Signs of a Dog in Labor

Is your dog pregnant? If so, it’s very important for you to be able to recognize the signs of a dog in labor. When your dog goes into labor, you need to be prepared if something unexpected happens or if you have questions for your vet in Highland, Westville, or Mishawaka, IN.

Signs of a dog in labor

See below for more information regarding your dog’s labor and birthing.

What Materials Do You Need for When Your Dog Goes into Labor?

Below are some essential items you’ll need for when your dog goes into labor:

Being prepared with the supplies you may need as well as the number for your regular veterinarian and the nearest emergency vet in Highland, Westville, or Mishawaka, IN will help make the process go as smoothly as possible for both you and your dog.

What are the Signs of a Dog in Labor?

Now that you know some of the essential things you’ll need for the occasion, it’s also important to know the signs of a dog in labor so that you’ll know when the process begins.

Canine pregnancy typically lasts for fifty-six to sixty-nine days. It would be best if you began to look for signs of labor around day forty-nine.

Below are 10 common signs of a dog in labor:


Dogs like to pick a safe place during labor because of their survival instinct. This behavior is called nesting. In the wild, it is not safe for them to be out in the open giving birth. They will look for a cozy place to have their babies because it makes them feel protected.

It is typical for dogs to bring their bed with them and scratch it to clean the surface. Do not try to choose the place you want your dog to have her babies. This interference will only make her feel stressed. Choosing the right spot gives her a sense of control and security.

Her Body Temperature Drops Below 100 Degrees

The average body temperature for a dog is 101.3 degrees. When her body temperature goes below 100 degrees, this is a sign that your dog will be going into labor within the next twenty-four hours. Most dogs give birth within twenty-four hours after their body temperature dips below 100.

She May Want You Around More

For some dogs, another sign of a dog in labor is that they may want you around more when they are about to go into labor. It goes back to their instincts. They want someone they trust to be with them throughout the process.

If your dog needs you to help them with labor, make yourself available to be with them when the time comes.

She May Want You Around Less

However, it’s also possible that your dog may not want to be around anyone once she goes into labor. This completely depends on your dog’s preference. Some dogs like to go to a secluded area with no one around when they give birth. Some dogs feel safer this way.


Another common sign of a dog in labor is vomiting. Nausea can ensue when your dog is about to go into labor.

If you see your dog is vomiting during labor, clean it up and bring her some water, so she does not get dehydrated.

Hardened Abdomen

Contractions in female dogs usually start forty-eight to seventy-two hours before delivering her babies. Sometimes you may hear whining or yelping during contractions. If your dog’s stomach should feel different or very firm, this means she is about to have her puppies.

Incessant Licking of the Genital Area

Fluid comes out when they give birth, so licking this area is your dog’s way of trying to remain clean.

Enlargement of Mammary Glands

A few days before she goes into labor, your dog’s mammary glands will begin to enlarge. This engorgement is how she will feed her new puppies.

Refusal to Eat

Another sign of a dog in labor for pets is refusal to eat. Dogs do not typically like to eat before they go into labor. Just make sure she remains hydrated during this time.


Sometimes, when dogs are in pain, they shiver. You should try to comfort her by gently touching her and letting her know she will be okay.

When You Should Call an Emergency Vet During the Signs of a Dog in Labor

There may be something wrong with your dog’s birthing process, and you are not sure what to do. This situation is where your vet comes in. If anything out of the ordinary occurs when your pet is experiencing the signs of a dog in labor, do not be afraid to call the veterinarian or emergency vet, depending on the situation and the time of day.

The following are all situations when you should consult with a vet or emergency vet before and/or during any sign of a dog in labor:

  • Something unusual is going on in the dam
  • If there have been problems with your dog having puppies in the past
  • If it has been more than twenty-four hours since the beginning of labor and it is still occurring
  • More than three hours of labor have passed, and there are no puppies yet
  • If there is more than one hour of labor between puppies
  • Consistent straining for one hour, and there still are no puppies
  • If labor stops before all the puppies have come out
  • If your dog is in severe distress or pain
  • If the puppies are stillborn or alive, but they seem weak or something is not right

It is ideal for your dog to have normal labor, and the puppies turn out fine. However, you should be prepared for anything that can go wrong in this situation.

You should have your veterinarian’s number handy while your dog is giving birth if something out of the ordinary occurs. This preparation can help to ensure the health and well-being of your dog and her babies.

Contact Us for Any Additional Questions About the Signs of a Dog in Labor

Your dog giving birth is a miracle you get to share with your furry companion. There are a plethora of signs that your dog is about to give birth to her puppies. Being prepared to help her is generally a wise idea. Be ready to consult your veterinarian if there are any questions or problems.

At Emergency Veterinary Care Centers, we have locations in Highland, Westville and Mishawaka, IN staffed with compassionate emergency veterinary experts. If you have any questions about the signs of a dog in labor, or if you experience any complications during the process, contact us immediately. We have experts available 24/7 to help you and your pet when you need us most.

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