How to Induce Labor in Dogs

By Michelle Blessing

Dog birth, know to animal experts as whelping, can be as complicated as human birth. Recognizing the signs of canine pregnancy, such as large, dark nipples and a growing belly, can help you determine gestation. Inducing labor in canines may be done for health or safety reasons, and you should talk with your veterinarian to determine what is best for your dog.

Tip #1 - Take your dog for regular checkups. This is especially important during pregnancy to establish a due date, number of puppies to be born and to monitor your dog's fluid and hormone levels throughout gestation. Normal gestation for a dog is approximately 60 days.

Tip #2 - Gently massage your dog's abdominal area when its due date approaches. Use light pressure and slow up-down movements. Do not push hard or try to force the puppies down and out of the birth canal. A rough massage is not only painful for your dog, but can harm your dog or her unborn puppies.

Tip #3 - Massage your dog's nipples to stimulate milk production. This will also release the hormone oxytocin, which can bring on contractions. Allowing puppies to nurse between births can help to stimulate labor contractions. A veterinarian can administer oxytocin through injection or intravenously as well.

Tip #4 - Mix herbal remedies known to induce labor with your dog's food. Blue or black cohosh and red raspberry leaves are said to induce labor. You can find these herbs at a natural-food or specialty grocery store. Try mixing castor oil with your dog's food, as well.

Tip #5 - Provide your dog with enough calcium throughout her pregnancy. Low calcium levels have been associated with weak contractions and longer labor times. Your veterinarian may decide to provide a calcium injection to assist or bring on labor.

Tip #6 - Exercise your dog regularly throughout her pregnancy. A long, slow walk or a light game of fetch close to your dog's due date can bring on labor.

By Michelle Blessing


About the Author
Michelle Blessing has experience in child development, parenting, social relationships and mental health, enhanced by her work as a clinical therapist and parent educator. Blessing's work has appeared in various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and is pursuing her master's degree in psychology with a specialization in applied behavior analysis.