6 Critical Signs That Your Dog Is Giving Birth! Quick & Easy Guide To Spot!

what are the signs your dog is giving birth?

Once your dam (female dog) is pregnant, there will be so many changes. There will be a lot of things that will enter your mind, especially if you are a first-time dog parent.

During Bella’s first pregnancy, I, honestly and personally had a lot of questions in my mind, that left me clueless all of sudden. What are the signs that your dog is giving birth?

I got a few more questions such as:

  • How is she going to take in giving birth?
  • What will her puppies need once they are born?
  • Where will she give birth?

These concerns helped me understood every sign of pregnancy and giving birth. By now, I can say that I am well prepared for the arrival of our new puppies. 

Preparing for your dog’s pregnancy can be scary but you will finally understood what are the signs that your dog is giving birth through: Heavy breathing or panting, Restlessness, Loss of appetite, Contractions, Discharges, And more…

Right now this may be a whole lot of information, especially if you are a first timer but after you have read my article, I can promise that you can walk out into the world and act as an expert when understanding these things about your dogs giving birth.

I will share everything that I know, based on my experience with Bella’s three batches of healthy puppies and I am almost certain that you can apply these things to your upcoming bundle of fur joys.

Dog’s Menstrual Cycle

dog's menstrual cycle

So before we actually go to the signs, let us all first understand their menstrual cycle. The first thing to understand is a dog’s menstrual cycle. It is commonly referred to as their “heat” or “heat cycle”.

Unlike humans that the regular cycle is every 28 days, a dog’s heat cycle is normally just twice a year. This can start as early as their 8th month but can be as late as in their 1st year.

Your dog can only get pregnant during these times.

4 Stages of Menstrual Cycle

tips and preparations when dogs give birth

Their menstrual cycle is about 4 stages, proestrus being the first phase. During this time, your dog’s vulva will be swollen and will secret reddish or pinkish vaginal discharge. This whole phase can last from 10 to 12 days.

Estrus is the second phase. It is when your dog reaches the stage of being in “standing heat”. This usually happens when your female dog becomes flirtatious to male dogs.

“Flagging” is the common sign for this phase. You can see it when they raise their tail to one side when a male dog comes around.

Breeders usually count calendar days from this phase. It is also the ideal time to schedule a stud and when the possibility of getting pregnant is high.

The third phase of a dog’s cycle is called Diestrus, which lasts from 50 to 80 days.  One of the signs of this phase is a visible red discharge.

If your dog has been bred, then this time can give you hopes but actually may be a false pregnancy. I have seen this in my other female dog, Lucy, who showed signs of pregnancy, even without being bred. 

She acted like a mother to Bella’s puppies which was really weird to me at first but after understanding this cycle, has made it clear to me that this is normal.

The fourth and the final phase is Anestrus, which is basically the time that your dog is not sexually active, or much like their resting phase before their next cycle comes up.

Mark Your Calendars

So to give an example, if your female dog has mated with a male dog on July 1st, then you can expect your dog to give birth from August 28th to September 4th, anywhere between these days should be when you are expecting.

Now that you know when to actually expect these signs, it would much be easier than to anticipate the birth blindly.  This way you can better prepare the things that you need and you will know when to pay extra attention to your dog as the dates become near.

If you are unsure and want to be safe by getting more professional guidance, then you can always visit your veterinarian for more information.

6 Critical Signs your Dog is Giving Birth

signs your dog is giving birth

The most important part of this article is to know what are the signs your dog is giving birth. Personally, before you look at the signs, I would strongly suggest that you know first when you are expecting your dog to give birth.

Same as with humans that a targeted date or an estimated date can be given, this can also be calculated for dogs. Normally, a dog’s gestation period can last from 58 to 65 days from the first time they mated. 

Physical Signs

nesting dogs, ready to give birth

  • Loss of appetite and vomiting- 12 to 24 hours before your dog gives birth, you should notice a difference in their appetite.                                                  Your dog’s body is aware of what is going to happen in the next hours, thus, driving the loss in appetite as well as possible vomiting as they do not really want a full stomach at this point.                                                                                        
  • Nesting. This is normally described when a dog in labor starts to dig on the floor, assuming they are digging a place, like a den for their puppies.                If you start to notice that your dog is digging in your closet, your bed or blankets then this is another sign that she will be giving birth in the next 10-12 hours.

Dogs do not like giving birth in the open. They will next in the corners, or usually in darker places at home. In case your dog moves its whelping box somewhere, let it be. It implies that her mother instinct prefers the new place better than the original one.

More Signs

dog contractions, sign of giving birth
  • Extreme Restlessness-Dogs about to give birth are restless.                       They tend to be searching for something around the house. They are actually looking for a comfortable place to give birth.                                                                                      
  • Panting - Observe how your dog breathes.                                                                    Heavy breathing is a normal sign that your dog is about to give birth. Your dogs are panting because start to feel the pain of contractions.                             
  • Contractions.-Similar to when humans are giving birth, dogs too, experience contractions.                                                                                            During this time, I suggest you stand by your dog, even if they can manage giving birth by themselves.

It is also normal that dogs will reach out for you comfort during this painful and stressful time. I have tried helping Bella with her contractions, by gently stroking and pushing her tummy.

Lucky for me, Bella is really close to me and I didn’t see any aggression with her during this time.

  • Vaginal Discharge. After several contractions and pushes, you will most likely see vaginal discharge from your dog. When this happens, you should expect a puppy in the next 30 minutes or so.

Once the first puppy is out, your dog may rest for a few minutes. The next one should be out in the next 20 – 30 minutes, up to an hour of an interval.

If your dog took rest for more than 2 hours, it is best to contact your veterinarian sooner. There might be complications with giving birth. Don’t wait any further because it might endanger your dog or her puppies.

What To Do When These Signs Happen?

what to do when dogs give birth

Note that not all these signs will happen before your dog is about to give birth. Some dogs will behave differently. However, these are the most common signs to watch out for so that you’ll know that your dog is about to give birth.

Don’t Panic!

Personally, the most important thing for you to do when you notice these signs is never to panic.  

Your dogs will look for you and expect you to be there for them and the best way to do this is to be calm and really show them your affection as their fur parent. 

Even though your dogs cannot talk, you will see it in their eyes that they are not comfortable with the changes that they are feeling and you need to be there for them and make them feel that you are going to be there the whole process.

Getting Ready

be prepared when dogs give birth

Aside from keeping calm, you need to be prepared with everything that you will need for the birthing process.  

Once you see your dog starting to have contractions, keep them lying down so that you can touch and rub their tummy, much like helping them “push” while the tummy is contracting.

When vaginal discharge is observed, then you can start expecting for the puppies to be born in the next few minutes. 

Once a puppy comes out, just observe your dog as their mother instinct will kick in and they will clean their puppies by removing the sac, chewing it as well as the puppy’s cord.

If another puppy is born, then your dog will then be preoccupied with doing the same thing again, so help her by making sure that her previous puppy is well cleaned and dry. Keep the puppy near their mother so that body heat will be maintained.

Just observe your dog, most often than not, they can do all these by themselves, but when needed and if it is welcomed, feel free to help your dog with her newborn puppies.

Tips and Preparations When Your Dog Gives Birth

tips and preparations when dogs give birth

The reason why I pointed out the importance of knowing your dog’s heat cycle is for a better understanding of the whole process.

If you understand the birth phases, you can prepare better when your dog is about to give birth. Here are some tips that I personally and strongly suggest that you do prior to the big day.

  • Make sure that your whelping kit is ready.  Your whelping kit will have all the important items you need when your dog gives birth. Remember to prepare these things before the expected date.                                                                            
  • Prepare your whelping box too. It will be their nesting area, but ideally, you should have a separate nesting area for your dog.                                                     
  • Ensure enough food and water. Make sure that your dog has water or food and within their reach if possible. Your dam might not have an appetite but keeping it hydrated is essential.

Mark the date of the delivery.  You can count between the 58th to the 65th day and your dog should be giving birth by this time.


Either you are a breeder or you simply have a female dog that you take care of, understanding their cycle, the pregnancy and birthing process is relatively important.

You have finally read what are the signs your dog is giving birth in this article. I hope you take into considerations all the tips I gave.

When your dog is pregnant, understanding the signs and knowing what to do, what to prepare and how to react is also essential to make sure that you are well aware of the expectations when the time comes.