Whelping or Parturition

Determining the time of parturition

  • Start taking a rectal temperature about 5 days before expected time of whelping, do this in the morning and evening.
  • Compare the temperature to the one done 24 hours before.
  • The temperature will drop one degree (often to about 99.0 F) in about 85 % of bitches about 24 hours before parturition.
    • If a planned caesarian section is to be done it should be performed within the next 24 hours.
  • Close to all bitches will have an increase in temperature of about 1 degree from the base line that was determined a few days prior to whelping, this occurs about 6 hours prior to whelping (about 101.5).

Stage I labor usually last 6 – 12 hours but may go as long as 36 hours

  • Bitch is often restless, may show nesting behavior.
  • She is nervous, panting, anorexic, and may tremble or shiver

Stage II of parturition is when the puppies are pushed out

  • It will last 20 minutes to 1 hour per puppy o No more than 2 hours should elapse between each puppy born o It tends to last longer the first time the bitch whelps.
  • Stage II usually lasts a total of 3 to 6 hours but may go as long as 24 hours.
  • Puppy presentation is 60% head first with the head between both front legs, the other 40% the back legs will come first and this is normal. o As the puppy engages the cervix and anterior vagina it causes uterine contractions, you will often see the bitch actively pushing at this time. *

Stage III of parturition is the delivery of the expulsion of the placenta

  • Expulsion of the placentas follows the pup(s)
  • You may see pup – placenta – pup – placenta or pup – pup – placenta – placenta. 
  • The female will often eat the placenta
    • This can cause an upset stomach in some females
    • There has not been any benefit shown from the bitch eating placenta
  • If the whelping is attended the placentas are usually gathered and thrown away.
  • It can be difficult to tell the difference between resting in Stage III and the completion of parturition.
  • Radiographs prior to whelping are very valuable at this time.

Plan early be being prepared for any unexpected problems.  We are here to help so come in for ultrasound and x-rays for better planning.

Next learn how what to watch for if problems develop durring delivery and what to.
Whelping Problems