Complications After Dogs Give Birth

What complications should you watch for after your dog gives birth?
What complications should you watch for after your dog gives birth? | Source

After-Birth Complications in Dogs

If your dog just gave birth uneventfully, you may be giving a big sigh of relief, because you think the worst has passed. The puppies are suckling strongly, and mom eats, drinks, and takes care of the puppies as she should. Yet your new mom and pups are not completely out of the woods yet.

Complications may occur hours or days after the pups' birth, and sometimes they happen rather quickly, leaving little time to intervene. You have to continue to observe the mom and pups, and care for them after delivery. Below are some developments you may observe, while watching the mom and pups, that may or may not be signs of a complication.

What is normal and what is abnormal after a dog gives birth? If you notice something that is abnormal, even if it is not listed here, do not hesitate to call your vet.

Mother Dog is Not Going Potty

What is normal? Some mother dogs are so overwhelmed they seem to forget to drink or go out to potty as needed. If your dog is too worried to go outside to potty, you can help her in different ways. One way is to avoid crowding the area by inviting people over to see the puppies. As exciting as it is to see a litter of newborn pups, keep the whelping area quiet for the first days. Too much stress, too many noises, or too much interference may cause your new mom to be too worried to leave the pups alone, especially if she is a first-time mom. What can you do? You can try to entice her to come outside to potty, but if this does not work, you may put potty pads indoors near the pups so she can relieve herself while keeping an eye on her litter. Using a DAP diffuser may also help relieve the initial stress she may be feeling.

Mother Dog Is Not Eating

What is normal? While your new mom is very busy and tired the first few hours after giving birth, she should start eating soon to recoup her energy and help the pups grow. Keep in mind that if she ate the placentas, she might not be hungry for some time. As a rule of thumb, expect your new mother dog to eat within 24 hours of the birth of the last puppy, explains veterinarian Dawn Ruben in an article for Petplace. Your dog should be very hungry by this time and should be expected to eat a lot.

Your new mother dog can be allowed to splurge and eat as much as she wants. Make sure you keep that food bowl full of a high-energy puppy food, growth food, or lactation food recommended by your vet. Ideally, you should have been feeding her food like this in the last few weeks of pregnancy, having switched over to it gradually. Keep food and water near the mother so she will eat and drink without worrying about leaving her pups out of sight.

What is abnormal? If the mother dog is not hungry within 24 hours of delivering the last pup, this may be a problem. This may, indeed, be the first sign indicating an after-birth complication.

Mother Dog Is Panting

What is normal? During the first day after giving birth, panting is normal, because the mother dog is exhausted, and all the puppies crawling over her may cause her to feel overheated. The puppy's nails on her tummy may also cause her pain. Not to mention that the pups' suckling stimulates the mother dog's uterus to contract, which may cause panting as well, explains veterinarian Jon Rappaport.

What is abnormal? If the panting continues, it is worth investigating, as it may be a sign of an after-birth complication. Panting may be caused by a fever due to an infection or it may be the first sign of eclampsia. So if the panting lasts for a while and is accompanied by other symptoms, or if her rectal temperature is over 103.5o, she should see the vet.

Mother Dog Has a Discharge

What is normal? For up to three weeks after giving birth, it is normal for the mother dog to have a vaginal discharge known as lochia. The discharge is dark greenish, brownish, or blackish in color and should not have a foul odor.

What is abnormal? Should the discharge increase, rather than decrease, or if it has a foul odor, it is best to have the dog seen. This may be a sign of an infection (see "metritis" below).

Also, according to veterinarian Bari Spielman, a continuous watery and/or bloody discharge may be indicative of the placental sites not receding. Placental sites should normally shrink after delivery and return to normal size, a process known as "involution." If they don't, it's called "uterine subinvolution." The bloody discharge may persist up to 16 weeks and may resolve on its own, but in severe cases may cause a dog to become anemic.

If your dog develops any of the abnormal signs above, do not hesitate to have her seen by a vet.

Here are three of the more common post-partum complications in dogs.

Post-Partum Complications in Dogs

  • Metritis. Metritis is infection of the uterus. This infection may be caused by a retained placenta, retained fetuses, birthing complications, or the use of instruments for a surgical procedure. Generally, this condition occurs within the first week after giving birth. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, fetid vaginal discharge, dehydration, fast heart rate, panting, vomiting, and diarrhea. The mother dog will need to be on antibiotics, and the puppies may need to be hand-fed during this time with a replacement formula such as Ebsilac. In severe cases, the mother dog may become septic quickly, requiring hospitalization.
  • Eclampsia. Eclampsia, or milk fever, is the depletion of calcium in mother dogs. It is most common in small dogs with large litters, during the first three weeks after giving birth. Symptoms include stiff gait, trouble standing normally, restlessness, pacing, fever, panting, muscle spasms, seizures, and lack of interest in the puppies. This condition can be life-threatening if not treated in time. Treatment consists of replenishing calcium levels. The puppies will need to be hand-fed. Note: Supplementing with calcium during pregnancy will not help; it may actually predispose the mother dog to this condition.
  • Mastitis. Mastitis is infection of the mother dog's mammary glands. The mother's nipples may appear hot, red, and inflamed. The condition could be triggered by the scratching of the puppy's nails against the mammary glands. Symptoms include fever, pain upon nursing, withdrawing from the pups, pups not growing, and pups crying. The puppies will need to be hand-fed.

Preventing Complications After Your Dog's Birth

Complications after your dog has given birth can be serious and scary. This is why prenatal care is important. Responsible breeders know this all too well. One of the most useful things you can do is have your vet determine how many puppies your dog is expecting. This way, you know exactly how many puppies and placentas should come out, and you will know right away if a puppy is stuck or a placenta has been retained.

Also, your new mom and puppies should see a vet within 24 or 48 hours after giving birth. This way, your vet can make certain no placentas or dead puppies were retained. If placentas are not expelled in a timely manner they may cause infection of the uterus (metritis). An oxytocin injection may be necessary. Oxytocin is a hormone naturally produced by the dog's hypothalamus, which stimulates the uterus to contract and expel its contents.

Disclaimer: the above article is not to be used as a substitute for veterinary advice. If your dog is sick after giving birth, consult with your vet.

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Comments 54 comments

Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

What a great hub, with very useful signs to watch for after a dog birth. Voted up.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, I am happy to liked my dog pregnancy complications after giving birth article!

eHealer profile image

eHealer 4 years ago from Las Vegas

Alex, you would be surprised how many people don't know what to expect when their dog is expecting. Excellent information. I am sending it to a friend of mine who has an expectant Cockapoo. We think anyway. Thank you again.

Portia 2 years ago

My dog gave birth this morning to six puppies I found the puppies in my back yard I have not seen the mother dog yet I have looked under the house call her name no response what do you think happen to her I put the puppies in a box in my garage they have not eating I said I was going to call the dog pound

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alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

The fact she isn't there concerns me. Could she have gotten scared of something? Could be she gave birth to other pups and they are separated? Please look for her, I hope she isn't suffering from some complication. And highly recommend getting her spayed.

Tamalina 2 years ago

My first time mom gave birth starting at 7:08 am. She had 3 males. However, Temp is 102.1, eyes dialated, overly alert, excessive licking, not voiding, fluid intake minimal, appetite fair. Help me please

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alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

Please take her to the vet. All mother dogs should see a vet after whelping, and your even more so since she's not doing well.

dimitria karydas 2 years ago

My yoekie gave birth two days ago. I took her to the vet the next day where she was found to have a fever of 105. The vet gave her an injection of oxycotin and ran a blood analysis but calcium levels and such were normal. It's the day after her visit and her temp is still very high! Doc recommended to give her baths to cool her off which worked for awhile but she is still feverish. Loss of appetite, good water intake, a little lethargic, going potty. What should I do now? Thank you.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

Rub some pancake syrup on her gums to give her a boost of energy. Try warming up some canned dog food. The smell is released and can be more tempting. Try rubbing a bit on her gums, once she tastes it, she may want more. Try boiled chicken. I would see another vet if the temperature doesn't go down and she doesn't eat and acts lethargic.Your vet may prescribe a dog food called A/D which is for dogs who don't eat much but need a caloric intake. I would get some puppy formula just in case.

kellyjimenez 2 years ago

My dog gave birth sunday morning at noon she looked fine she would drink a lot and eat a lot . Shes pooping well too and peeing too . I don't smell an odor nor see a discharge coming out. One thing is her stomach got big and its hard. She gave birth to 2 healthy puppies, she sometimes pants because she would want to go outside to dispose herself. But her stomach worries me the most, what could it be? She puked her food 2 times. Im feeding the pieces of food wet and soft, but please care to help? Is the stomach sopposed to be big and hard? Breed: chihuahua 1 year old.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

Your dog should see the vet for this. It could be she has retained placentas, more puppies or it could be she has strained too hard giving birth and has developed a hernia. It could also be a sign of an intestinal blockage. You should bring the pups along for comfort and ensure they are kept warm, but make sure no dogs or other people get in contact with them as they are vulnerable to disease.

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alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

Good to be aware of the complications after giving birth so to be prepared just in case. Look at it as a head's up rather than a concerning read. Best wishes!

Jessicasmith 2 years ago

My terrier gave birth Wed at 9 am. No complications. Her and puppies are happy/plump. I forgot to ask the vet after her appt when can she be away from the puppies longer than going potty and eating. She is in her whelping room with the puppies. Very happy and content. She seems to want to hang out after going and I want her to do as she pleases. However, is that normal? When should I let her be without her puppies longer than a few minutes? Lol I feel like an overly paranoid mom. She's a very spoiled privileged dog.... And keeping her in there with them seems like torture for us all since we're so close. I spend a lot of time in there.... But I want them all to rest. Am I doing the right thing?

alexadry profile image

alexadry 2 years ago from USA Author

In the first days mom should be completely focused in the litter. Puppies need to stay warm and sleep a lot. 90 percent of their time is spent nursing and sleeping. She needs to eat though and stay hydrated. And of course she needs to potty. A little attention won't harm, but she needs to get back to them and tend to their care, especially when they are whining either because they are cold or hungry. Make sure she's comfortable around them. She should get gradually more independent and you can let her hang around you more especially when around 3 weeks you can introduce them to mush and let them explore.

Annieflores89 20 months ago from Columbus ohio

My puppy (shiba inu)got pregnant at 10 months old she gave birth to 7 puppies she looked good took her to the vet and today I took her out to pee and she walked around a little and then Shen lay flat on her tummy started to shake and started to bleed to her nose and passed away within 2 minutes we are devastaded not sure why she left us so early her puppies just turned a week old today can't stop crying her name was candy

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alexadry 20 months ago from USA Author

I am so sorry you had to witness such a heart breaking event. That sort of bleeding is sometimes seen in dogs with heart or some respiratory disease and can sometimes be seen in dogs who ingest rat poison or dead mice who ingested rat poison. Sending you my deepest condolences.

jennifer 20 months ago

My dog gave birth 4 days ago but she still acts like she is pushing she has 6 baby's. I'm not sure y she is doing this. She is eating and drinking fine and using the bathroom and taking care of the baby's like she should but still acts like she is pushing. What's wrong?

4 year old Chihuahua

alexadry profile image

alexadry 20 months ago from USA Author

Were you able to count the 6 placentas as the pups were delivered? Any missing? I would play is safe and see the vet to make sure there's nothing stuck.

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alexadry 20 months ago from USA Author

When mother dog is nursing, oxytocin is produced which induces uterine contractions to help expel any retained tissues that are passed with the post-partum discharge , but sometimes it's not enough and dogs may need a "clean-out" shot to expel retained placentas.

David Kilbride 19 months ago

my dog just had 9 puppies and did great. She Started itching like crazy and i can get her to stop. Before giving birth she had a beautaful coat. I have not change her food or done anything different. Her hair is falling out and although she will not feed them anymore she wants to clean everytrhing up and I will not let her. eating 9 puppies poop does not seem to be healthy

alexadry profile image

alexadry 19 months ago from USA Author

This can be due to hormonal changes, it happens to some dogs, and usually after this critical time, the coat grows back in a healthier state than before, however, because there are many causes for hair loss other than hormones, your best bet is to see your vet or a vet specializing in dermatology. However, the itching seems an unusual unless it's triggered by the hairs falling and making her feel itchy or perhaps some allergy to something.

William 18 months ago

Okay, long story short, there's been a stray outside of my house for the past two months, just a few days ago she gave birth to five puppies, the only problem is, she's not eating a lot and she is abnormally skinnier than how she was before giving birth. I seriously don't know what to do to help her, she hasn't eaten much in the past three days and it's worrying me, we've been giving the pups some milk formula. Please help I can't take her to the vet because she refuses to get into the car.

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alexadry 18 months ago from USA Author

Contact local rescues or no-kill shelters that can help. They may have a network of foster homes that can help out. This dogs needs help and she also needs to be spayed, most of all, she needs a loving, nurturing home to give these pups a good start in life.

Theresa 16 months ago

My dog Khloe gave birth to 3 puppies Friday morning and 2 survived. Sunday morning she had two more stillborn pups. There's one more coming out now 10 hours later. It's stuck. Can only see feet

Don't have the money for emergency vet. What can I do??

Becky 16 months ago

My dog had 4 puppies everything went great in delivery now her bowel is very soft and she urine a lot is this normal

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alexadry 16 months ago from USA Author

It's hard to say... some dogs develop soft stools if they ate the placentas, and increased urine could be a result of drinking more as dogs may feel more hot with all those pups bundling over her body and she'll also need to make up for all the nursing.. I would see a vet if this continues as she may have a urinary tract infection, which is uncommon after giving birth as the vaginal passage is vulnerable to contamination during birth and the immune system may be lowered.

madeleine 12 months ago

My neighbours dog (pitbul) gave birth on teusday morning only 1 puppy she don't look good she got a fever and is very tired. Pls help!! Thanks

Dianna 8 months ago

I have a 2 year old German Shepherd Irish sheep herder mix dad is full German Shepherd also 2,this is her first litter and she had 9,she will not go out to potty she won't drink or eat and she only has 6 nipples that r producing milk . are these things normal.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 8 months ago from USA Author

The first day, mother dog is very busy with her pups and she may not feel like leaving her pups as they are vulnerable. I hope that by now she was able to have potty break and eat/drink. I would have her see the vet if she is still acting abnormally.

Kayleigh 7 months ago

my dog had puppies 4 days ago and every now and then keeps coming out of her whelping room panting and digging. shes caring for her puppies and does settle but the panting and digging is worrying me a little

alexadry profile image

alexadry 7 months ago from USA Author

Of course, see your vet if her behaviors continue, especially the panting, it sounds like stress and could be she's looking for a better place to move the pups. Is the current place too cold/are there drafts? is it crowded/inconvenient in some way? Are there too many people hanging around the area? A good whelping spot should be quiet and calm place that's comfy and mother dog feels secure.

Linda 7 months ago

My 10 year old black lab just gave birth to one pup yesterday. Don't know if she had anymore cause I wasn't home. The mom has been panting a lot, is that something to be concerned about. This is her first time giving birth.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 7 months ago from USA Author

Here's a read aboiut panting in dogs after giving birth.

Candy 6 months ago

My dog had puppies 5 days ago and she has been very....calm usually she is very crazy after her puppies.(happy to see them) but lately she has been giving off some type of reddish brown stuff in her pee like blood and she just keeps on pushing like there is one more. But it's already been 5 days since her labor. She has not really been feeding her puppies. I don't know if I should be worried. This is the second time she has had puppies. Help .

alexadry profile image

alexadry 6 months ago from USA Author

You should her see the vet to be safe, it's concerning that she's not feeding the pups. All litters of mom and pups should see the vet after whelping to make sure there are no retained placentas.

Brittany 6 months ago

This saturday will be 6 weeks since my dog had 10 puppies. They are all healthy, eating, playing, etc. She on the other hand is not gaining her weight back. We've been feeding her puppy food then switched to 24/20 & then 27/10 protein food. She's still very skinny. And peeing and pooping in the house, though I take her out plenty. And occasionally there is blood in her urine.

Butch 6 months ago

My bitch has gave birth to 8 pups and had another 14 hours later she has all singns of eclampsia trouble standing and temp but she has been to vet and calcium is good blood is good heart rate is good any clues has any one else saw this b4

Samuel 6 months ago

Hi! My dog just gave birth 3 days ago and she still hasn't eaten yet. I'm giving her milk and chicken liver and she's eating eat just very few. She was diagnosed with Metritis and currently taking her antibiotics. What can I do to put back her appetite? Thank a lot in advance for your answer! Btw, your article is so nice!

Silvia 5 months ago

Is it possible that my shih-tzu after giving birth to 3 healthy pups have more pups one or two days later.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 months ago from USA Author

You really need to see there may be a retained placenta or dead pups

Pixie 5 months ago

I had a dog (pit/husky mix) that I was housing temporarily for someone. She was only 9 months old at time of whelping. She was outside at the onset of labor. She had 5 puppies total. When we realized she was having her puppies (she had gone outside to use the bathroom and had been out a while when I began looking for her) and brought her inside we found two already dead but a third one living. Got her inside and comfortable and she had two more puppies.

The first puppy didn't make it past 10 days old. The remaining two seem healthy and are now 17days old.

The owner was suppose to arrange a vet visit but hasn't. Everything has seemed good. Mom was eating and drinking and using the bathroom accordingly. Puppies are fat and happy.

However. We had to go out of town overnight. Left yesterday morning and returned midday today. Set mom up with an autofeeder well stocked as well as a source of water. Unfortunately on returning mom was found dead in my bathroom with a mess of bloody stools. As far as I have observed before her stools haven't had any blood other than then spotting discharge which from my understand was normal the first few weeks.

Anyone have any opinions as to what may have happened? And what happens now with the two puppies? HELP PLEASE!

alexadry profile image

alexadry 5 months ago from USA Author

I am very sorry for the loss. Sad that owner wasn't interested in a vet visit . Can be many things, retained placentas, a complication, bloat if she managed to eat a very large amount of food. You will have to bottle-feed the remaining pups or find a temporary mom to nurse them.

Daniel 5 months ago

Our dog had puppies the other night. During which we thought she was in a state of shock. The last two pups she barely moved giving birth and just stared into space. She didn't lick at them or ne thing. This was in middle of night and we took her to vets as soon as we could. He put her on a drip and give X-ray and put on antibiotics and calcium tabs. We were hoping she was gonna be ok, she got out at 5 and by 7 she was just dead. No blood or crying cause she was in the room with us the hole time and was a compleat shock when we noticed. Just wondering if you would have ne ideas of what could have went wrong or what we could have done to help her more? I'm also having a very hard time accepting how a vet sent us home saying she was dehydrated and needed calcium but then dropped dead 2 hours later. From reading bit on you site I seen u said if the mother is on antibiotics then the puppy's need to be bottle fed, we were not told this at all. Which brings me on two the even bigger problem we have, 5 little babies with no mammy? Luckily I'm just finished college so I'm free to take care of em but everyone is telling me is not going to work out. we have another dog that helps with the cleaning. Then someone suggested trying to find another mom that might take them on. Would this be ok health wise for mon and pups if she accepted them?

Sanjay 5 months ago

I have a husky, she had littered on Monday morning and the last litter was at 3:30Am. She was normal till yesterday (Tuesday) but today she has stopped eating any thing we give her. What should we do?

Ruben 4 months ago

My chihuahua gave birth 2 days ago around 5:30 AM to 3 puppies. Unfortuantely 1 didnt make it, but the other 2 are eating just fine. The reason im here is because she's not eating much. She has peed and pooped but she looks skinnier. Is this normal forthe first few days of birth? She ate her placenta and I read here that it could be a reason why she is not eating.

alexadry profile image

alexadry 4 months ago from USA Author

Normally, new mother dogs may not eat too much in the first day or two due to overload of things to do, but soon she should really feel really hungry.. Best to get her checked out by the vet.

barbara 3 months ago

my chihuahua weighes 5lbs had 7 pups pups are fine but mom is pooping blood is this normal she had pups 5 days ago

Samantha 2 months ago

My dog gave birth 2 days ago but at night she is still digging and crying her belly tenses up and it like she is still in labour she had 7 that are all well please help

Janet 2 months ago

My pitbull just gave birth yesterday afternoon and until tonight she still isn't eating. What should I do?

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alexadry 2 months ago from USA Author

Please see the vet Samantha, this doesn't sound normal at all.

Purpose 2 months ago

My dog gave birth to 8 puppies (2 stillbirth) about 2 hrs ago when would they start to breastfeed. How do I know if she still has more in her inside? She took water vomited blackish water and licked it up again, is it normal?

Tracy 2 months ago

My dog gave birth Thursday morning and today her tots are getting hard milk is still coming out but the tots are getting hard and look like there drying up please help don't know if I should let puppies keep on feeding.... PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!

Peggy Lynn Adcock 6 weeks ago

My hound dog had her first litter of pups. She had 6 yesterday. One did not make it. We put the pups and momma dog in closed area so I could watch and help if need to. Today- This morning I went out to check her out and all was well. I went back at noon and wondered why 1 pup was away from the others and wet. She had another puppy. I put it with the others and all seems well. My worry is for the mother. Is this normal and should I do something for the momma dog?

Clare 4 weeks ago

A little bit the same as others... My 3 year old chuihiua has given birth to her second litter 24 hrs ago.She had 5 pups 3 girls 2 boys...

Sadly her last boy was stillborn.

She still hasn't been out for the loo

She ate all 5 placentas, sacs and still born. She is very protective.

She has been drinking plenty of fluids. No food but i have given her small amounts of ice cream as she gave birth on Friday night and our vets are not open until monday morning sadly.

Her stomach is still large but soft but she does have a fair size lump on her right side towards rear end inside.

She has no problems nursing her pups.

It took her nearly 6 hours to give birth to all 5 pups and towards the end she was exhausted bless her. She is still panting but i can understand that.

I would be grateful if u could get back to me asap as i could bring her to an emergency vet but that is over 75 miles away. And i would have to bring my 4 children with me aswel.

Many thanks

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    Adrienne Janet Farricelli (alexadry)1,687 Followers
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    Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of dog books.

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