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Q&A: Why Is My Dog Taking So Long to Have Her Puppies?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

If your dog goes more than 4 hours between puppies, then she has a problem.

If your dog goes more than 4 hours between puppies, then she has a problem.

Has My Dog Delivered All Her Puppies?

"My dog started having her puppies about 10 pm last night, and it's now 8:05 am and she has had seven so far. Her last pup came about an hour and a half ago, but she's still pushing as if she is going to have more. I've felt her stomach and it feels as if there is more in there.

Should I be concerned that no baby has come out? She's already gotten up about six times and squared up as though to pee, but when she pushes, a dark brown fluid comes out. It's not a lot, but I'm not sure if that is normal or not. And as she was in hard labor earlier, she vomited twice and it was a big pile of nasty black slimy goo.

Is this all normal or if I should worry? This is her second litter; she had 10 puppies in the first litter and did very well." —Lotus

How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Finish Giving Birth?

Puppies have a higher survival rate when the female gives birth relatively quickly (usually no more than 12 hours), although even if a dog takes a whole day to give birth to all of them, they are often okay.

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Your Dog Should Not Go More Than 4 Hours Between Puppies

Normally we say that a dog that is having puppies should not go more than a few hours without passing the next puppy. If she goes more than 4 hours between puppies, then she has a problem and the last puppy may already be dead. If a large puppy becomes stuck in the birth canal, the other puppies can no longer come out.

When to See Your Vet

When a puppy takes too long to pass or the female is straining excessively and nothing comes out, it can be a sign of dystocia, and you need to contact your local veterinarian immediately.

The sooner you take her in, the better, since the puppy in the birth canal might be alive and there might even be other puppies still inside her that cannot come out. Sometimes the mother can die too, so an exam—and maybe even a c-section—might save her life.

Contact your veterinarian now and try to have her seen before she has been in labor for 12 hours.


This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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