Why is my Dog Panting After Giving Birth?

Updated on May 17, 2013
alexadry profile image

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Panting in dog after giving birth
Panting in dog after giving birth | Source

Understanding Panting in New Mother Dogs

So your dog is panting after giving birth, and you are obviously concerned about it. You may wonder if the room is too hot, if she is just tired from giving birth and if perhaps she is in some sort of discomfort. Things would be much easier if dogs could just talk and express how they're feeling. You would almost hear a new mother mother dog say "seeesh.. it's so hot in here, can you please crack that window open? these puppies are making me so hot!" or most importantly "I think I still have a puppy inside, please take me to the vet, something is wrong!" Instead owners are often left with lots of doubts and guesswork. Fortunately, veterinarians can often clear most of these doubts, but often they are also scratching their heads and need to conduct various batteries of tests until they can figure out what's really going on.

What causes dog panting? At the vet's office we used to get loads of phone calls from worried dog owners concerning panting. All dog owners are familiar with those rapid, respirations accompanied by open-mouth breathing and the tongue sticking out often seen on a hot day or after the dog has exercised. Yet, it can seem worrisome in a new mother dog especially if the room is not hot, the dog hasn't really exercised and she was just laying down in her pen nursing. This may seem a bit out of context, and is a reason why so many dog owners are concerned about it. In the next paragraph, we will discuss possible causes of mother dog panting after whelping.

So Why is My Dog Panting After Giving Birth?

So your dog gave birth to some cute bundles of joy and every thing seems like is proceeding normally, other than the obvious panting. We will now go over some common and not-so-common causes of panting in mother dogs starting with the most severe causes first, but obviously, if anything concerning our out-of-the-ordinary is happening to your dog, you should see your vet. So the first step after your dog gave birth is seeing your vet.

First and foremost, consider that it's part of responsible breeding having mother dog and pups seen by a veterinarian within 24 hours. The most reputable breeders in town used to always schedule these post-whelp appointments with our vets and these visits were very helpful as the vets determined the pups' sex, recorded their weight, looked for signs of congenital defects, and at times, gave mom an oxytocin ingestion which helped her expel any retained material from her uterus. At this vet visit, your vet could determine and signs of trouble. This should be your first course of action and the most responsible one.

Eclampsia/Milk Fever

In this case, mother dogs are being rapidly depleted from calcium blood levels due to the high demands of nursing and this can be a life threatening condition. While this condition most commonly occurs around 1 to 3 weeks after giving birth, it's not unheard of occurring even during pregnancy, according to Pet Education. The decreased calcium levels may cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, shaking, a stiff gait, restlessness, increased water intake, fever and panting. Consider though that some dogs can be stoic and will still eat and nurse as instinct tells them to take care of the pups. It is useless at this point to try home remedies feeding calcium supplements; the dog needs prompt veterinary attention and the administration of intravenous calcium gluconate.

Retained Pups/Placentas

If your dog is panting and appears in discomfort, it could be she has retained placentas or puppies. This is why it's so important to see your vet after the new mom whelps. The vet may give an oxtocin "clean-out" shot that will help her uterus contract and expel any retained material. To learn more about symptoms of retained placentas read the article " Signs of Retained Placentas in Dogs"

Uterus Contractions

We talked about how an oxytocin shot may be necessary to stimulate a dog's uterus to contract so that any retained material can be safely expelled. This is often necessary when the mom has placentas or even dead puppies in her. The clean-out oxytocin shot the vet gives is the synthetic version of oxytocin. In a natural setting, the pups' nursing cause the secretion of natural oxytocin from the mother dog's pituitary gland. This oxytocin causes mild contractions in two specific areas: in the uterus so it can return to its previous normal size (involution) while expelling any post-delivery tissues, blood and blood clots, and in the milk glands so milk can be released. In this case, panting is normal during nursing, while the uterus contracts, explains veterinarian Jon Rappaport in an article for Pet Place. However, you want to make sure her rectal temperature is normal, she is eating well, and her bowel movements, urine and vaginal discharge look normal.

Feeling Hot

When dogs pant, they are often trying to cool down, either because the external temperature is high or the dog is hot internally. Momma dog may feel hot because all those pups are crowding over her to nurse. Does she pant only when she nurses?Try to find out if there's a reasonable explanation for her to pant. Is the room getting hot? Are there too many blankets? At what setting is the heat on if you are using some form of heat? Are you using a heating pad or warm bottles and could they be making her hot? If so, you may need to find a compromise so you can cool mother dog down, while keeping the pups warm. Remember that pups are unable to maintain their body temperature warm for a week or two after birth so they need their mom to keep them warm. Soaking mother dog's feet in cool water for a few minutes may help give relief, suggests Just Answer veterinarian Dr. Duncan.

If you cannot find a reasonable explanation for mother dog to feel hot, it's wise to get her rectal temperature (which you should really do anyhow as it's hard to tell if the room is too hot, or if your dog is hot due to a fever). Consider that according to Vet Info, the normal temperature for dog that recently gave birth is around 101.5 degrees with a one-degree variation. Report to your vet immediately if you obtain an abnormal reading.

Pain/Stress/Fatigue

Giving birth is not a walk in the park, and it's normal for mother dog to feel tired and stressed. Eating, grooming herself or eliminating in the first hours after giving birth may be the last thought on her mind as she takes care of her pups. It may take some hours for her to settle down and panting may be due to feeling tired and stressed. Avoid having visitors come over to see the pups during this time as this may cause unnecessary stress. Also, ask yourself if there may be too much going on the whelping area. New moms are quite protective of their pups the first days and can get easily stressed by excessive noises and intrusions.

In some cases, the puppy's nails may be causing pain and panting can be a sign of pain. It's a good practice to check mother dog's nipples every now and then for signs of dog mastitis such as red, painful and hard to the touch nipples. Other causes of post-whelping pain are difficult births, infections and post-operative pain if the dog underwent surgery.

So if my dog is panting after giving birth, when is it time to see the vet? As mentioned, all new mother dogs should see the vet within 24-48 hours post whelping regardless if they are panting on not. This will help prevent complications, and may nip them in the bud. While panting may be normal the first hours or days after whelping, if it continues and there's no reasonable explanation for it, and if other symptoms arise, it's wise to play it safe and consult with the vet. As seen, there are several causes beyond stress and fatigue that could lead to a dog panting after giving birth.

Disclaimer: this article is not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is panting after giving birth, consult with your vet. By reading this article, you accept this disclaimer.

Alexadry© All rights reserved. Do not copy.



A case of dog panting with eclampsia

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Cellie 

      9 months ago

      My dog just had babies but barley eating not drinking water and is panting what should I do she doesn't want to leave there sight

    • profile image

      mary jean ramassini 

      12 months ago

      this was so uninformative all you say is go see the vet over and over and over and over again no real solutions some of us lay people cant afford that.

    • profile image

      Rodriguez 

      20 months ago

      My dog just had a puppy on the 18 she's still breathing hard and shaky she only had one puppy its this normal

    • profile image

      Sheila 

      20 months ago

      My dog had 12 pups yesterday 10 was breech and 1 pup was still born. She had a very hard delivetery she moaned and almost sounded lije she was crying. S he started with first pup at 9am and finished at 10pm. I delivered every pup she was so scared she shaked bad with the first 7 She is panting heavy today her discharge was black /green this am now it is dark reddish. . She is eating good and drinking good.. is her discharge normal

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      24 months ago from USA

      Robin, it could be she's hot with all those pups around her. Maybe when she takes a break you can see if taking her to a cooler room stops the panting? She seems to be feeling well otherwise from your description, eating and drinking. Check her stools to make sure she is not having diarrhea, look at her gums to see if they're nice and pink and maybe take her temperature to rule out a fever. But of course, only your vet can tell you if something in the health department may be going on.

    • profile image

      Robin Blount 

      24 months ago

      My dog had puppies about 2 to 2 & 1/2 weeks ago. She is eating good and drinking water and feeding puppies good they are fat. She is panting though. Is she ok??? I'm very worried!!!! Please help

    • profile image

      sep 

      4 years ago

      My dog seems like shes getting tired of her puppies or is it cause she need a break in between nursing and she really need a hair cut bad

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)