Responsible Breeding Steps

12 – Be Alert for Signs of Labor

A few days before the bitch is ready to give birth, she may stop eating and start building a "nest" where she plans to have her puppies-if you're lucky, this will be in the whelping box you have prepared for her.

Shortly before whelping, the bitch's body temperature will drop to 99 degrees or lower (from a normal temperature of 100 to 102.5). By this time, you should have shaved her belly, where appropriate, to allow the puppies to find the nipples for nursing. If she has a long or dense coat, you should also shave and clean the area around her genitals.

Approximately 24 hours after her temperature drops, she can be expected to enter the first stage of labor, when the cervix dilates and opens the birth canal for the passage of puppies. At this time, she will pant, strain, appear restless and may perhaps vomit. Vomiting is normal at the onset of labor, but persistent vomiting may be a sign of illness. This stage of labor is followed by actual abdominal straining and production of the puppies and placentas.

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