While awaiting a new litter of puppies, it is natural to want to predict when your dog will go into labor so that you can be on hand to witness the birth and provide assistance if needed. There are a number of behavioral changes you will observe before labor, but pregnant dog temperature drop is one of the most reliable ways to know when puppies are about to arrive.
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Dog pregnancy and due date
The gestation period for dogs is approximately 63 days. You can calculate her due date from the date she was bred. With such a short gestation period, it is natural to want to confirm the pregnancy as soon as possible and rule out a pseudopregnancy when your dog appears and acts pregnant even though she is not.
There is a dog pregnancy test that your veterinarian can perform that looks for the hormone relaxin that confirms your dog is pregnant. The test is administered 22 to 27 days after you breed your dog. False negatives are possible and may require a second test a week later. Palpating a dog's abdomen is another way to determine pregnancy, but this method is not as reliable and may not be possible depending on the size and temperament of your dog.
Your vet may take X-rays three weeks before the due date to confirm the presence of puppies. The best way to confirm your dog's pregnancy and to ensure that the fetuses are alive is through an ultrasound.
Dog labor temperature
Starting seven days prior to your dog's due date, start taking her temperature twice a day using a rectal thermometer. This will let you know her normal temperature so that you can recognize when it changes. Her normal temperature should be between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. What's a dog's temperature before giving birth? About 24 hours before delivering puppies, your dog's temperature will drop to under 99 degrees.
When her temperature drops, be ready for puppies to arrive. Most dogs deliver puppies unassisted, but there are a few things for which to watch out that may indicate that your dog or the puppies need some assistance or veterinary attention. You don't want to take a dog's temp in labor, as she will be busy delivering puppies.
Dog labor and delivery
The first stage of labor can take up to 12 hours, and during this time, your dog may be nervous and may even experience vomiting. During the second stage of labor, she will discharge birthing fluids and start delivering puppies. The first puppy should be birthed within 1 1/2 hours of birthing fluid discharge. It usually takes about 30 minutes to one hour of active contractions to deliver a puppy. She may rest for up to four hours before delivering the next pup. If she doesn't deliver a puppy after an hour of active contractions or four hours of rest, contact your veterinarian for assistance.
Unfortunately, one or more puppies may die in the uterus. If you see black discharge but no signs of labor, this is likely the cause. Call a veterinarian if this occurs.
Check each puppy to make sure he is breathing and has no obvious defects, such as a cleft palate. Make sure the puppies nurse within 24 hours and that they stay warm. The whelping box should be in a safe, warm location away from drafts, but if your dog decided to give birth somewhere else, you may need to move the new mom and her pups.