Your dog is pregnant! Congratulations! It is an exciting time as you wait for that due date to finally get here. However, once that date comes, you may be left wondering why labor hasn't started. She might be overdue, or labor may have started slowly but isn't moving forward at all. With both of those scenarios, you may be wondering how to induce dog labor at home so your girl will have her puppies without medical intervention.
If your girl is overdue, you may want to look out for some important signs that will give you some understanding of the whelping window and when you should be concerned. If labor seems to have stalled, this article is very important to read through. We will look at the signs of a stalled labor, how to induce dog labor at home and when to get medical intervention.
How Do I Know I Need to Induce Dog Labor?
Generally, when we think about inducing a dog's labor, we often think about doing it when a dog is already in the early stages of labor but has not progressed into full active labor. That being said, sometimes, especially when a dog is overdue, our vet will suggest trying to get that labor going.
But how do you know your dog may need to be induced? Here are a few things to look for.
- Is she overdue? If your dog's whelping window is closing, you may need to induce dog labor at home. Remember that normal gestation periods is 59 to 70 days after the first tie with the average being 63 days.
- Has your dog has been in stage 1 labor for more than 24 hours? So your dog is nesting and getting ready for her puppies. You may notice some contracting but it hasn't really progressed. Inducing labor can help get her over that hump and into the next stage.
- Has your dog has a break in her labor for more than 2 hours? While a whelping pause is common for many dogs, if it lasts too long, you know that it can be a problem. Using the techniques described in this article can help your dog get through the pause and back to whelping her puppies.
If in doubt of whether your dog needs assistance or not, speak with your veterinarian.
How to Induce Dog Labor at Home?
Now that you know the reasons why you may need to induce dog labor, it is important to know how to induce safely with your dog. It is important to remember that we are not going to use any medications without the express direction of your veterinarian to prevent further complications.
In addition, if a technique doesn't seem to be having any effect, it is important to try a different technique or game plan to induce labor.
#1 Go for a Walk
This is great way to get your dog to start labor and is very good for dams that seem to have stalled in their labor. It is a simple way to induce labor but going for a nice walk will help get things started in your dam.
Don't go for long walks and definitely no runs. Also, avoid anything where the pregnant bitch is jumping, running or standing up on her hind legs. When you exercise in those ways, so close to her due date, it can lead to umbilical complications.
Instead, put a leash on her and go for a walk around your yard or neighborhood for 10 to 15 minute intervals. You can go for a walk several times to help move her along.
While you are exercising her, let her stop to pee. This motion can leave her to push when she is squating and can help induce labor.
As a final word of caution, if your female has started labor and you are trying to help it along, bring a towel and flashlight (at night) outside with you. It is not unheard of for a female to deliver a puppy outside.
#2 Massage Her Nipples
When a dog is delivering her puppies, she will often nurse puppies that have been born while she waits for the arrival of the next. This nursing stimulates contractions and keeps labor going.
When it comes to inducing your dog's labor, you can use a similar method of stimulation to simulate the puppies nursing. Gently massage her nipples and try to express milk. The simulation can help stimulate contractions.
This method is often used in a dog whose labor is not progressing very well. I only recommend this if you need to do it. If the dog hasn't started labor yet, feathering is not going to do very much and could increase a chance of infection.
With feathering, place latex gloves on your hands. As you will be inserting your finger into the dog's vulva, you want to avoid any cross contamination. If you touch anything else, replace the glove.
Add some K-Y jelly or similar lubricant onto your hand. Gently insert your finger into her vulva and with a gentle motion, tickle the top of her vagina. This is called feathering and it is used to stimulate stronger contractions that will help with inducing labor.
#4 Massage the Abdomen
With the massage, have your dog stand. Place your hands on either side of her stomach. In small circles, rub the sides of your dog. Start at the ribs and move back toward her tail in a slow motion.
Apply a light pressure but don't massage too deeply. The massage can help stimulate contractions and may help induce dog labor.
#5 Calcium Supplements
Finally, you can look at calcium supplements to help with labor but do not use it until after the first puppy arrives. Using it too soon can lead to complications. However, if your dog is having a weak labor or has seemed to be stalling, you can offer calcium to help strengthen contractions. Generally, calcium is given with tums and the amount varies on each individual dog.
When To Seek Medical Intervention to Induce Dog Labor?
Although we've gone through ways that you can induce labor, it is important to mention that there are times when medical intervention is necessary. Medical intervention is necessary when:
- Your dog goes over 70 days since the first tie or breeding.
- Your dog has been in labor for over 24 hours.
- Your dog has been actively pushing for 2 hours with no puppy.
Some breeders will give a shot of oxytocin to induce labor, however, I always recommend doing it under the direction of the veterinarian. Oxytocin given too soon can have serious ramifications to the health of both mom and puppies.
If your vet decides to use the medication, he will do an exam first to make sure that it is time for her to go into labor. In addition, if there is any sign that labor will not progress naturally, your vet may recommend a c-section to save the puppies and mom.
Here is an excellent video on how to do it.
As you can see, there are many different ways that you can try to induce dog labor. Some are done before labor begins, if your dog is overdue, and some should only be done if your dog's labor has stalled. Using a range of techniques will ensure the best success and soon, you will have a healthy litter of puppies in your home.