Preparing For Dog Birth

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When it comes to dog birth, there are some very important things to remember for before, during, and after the birthing of puppies.

About 10 days before the due date, you need to introduce your dog to her whelping box. If it has a door on it, put her in there a couple of times a day and close the door.

If your dog is given several opportunities to lay down in her box, she will automatically go in there as her first whelping signs of birth begin.

©Photo Courtesy of Annie Delano
dog birth, Golden Retriever with toy skunk


If for some reason she doesn’t, you can simply put her in the whelping box once her 2nd stage labor begins, and chances are, she will stay in it without complaining.

During the last 2 to 3 weeks in a dog pregnancy, it is very important that you do not allow her to rough house with another dog or people. If her belly gets bumped, this can result in stillborn puppies.

When it is time for your dog to give birth, do not have several people in the room, and especially no other animals. Not even the father.


©Photo Courtesy of Susie Scribner
dog birth, Golden retriever newborn puppy laying on its back

A male dog does not have a loving, paternal instinct, and no matter how great the pair got along prior to this moment, the mother will be extremely upset if he or any other animal is in the room.

She will be worried about protecting her pups instead of concentrating on the task at hand.

She can inadvertently step on and kill one of her pups by jumping in and out of the box to see what the male dog is doing.

You need to be home when it is time for your dog to give birth in case anything goes wrong. Many pups have been saved simply from the owner being present.

One of our Goldens carried her babies so that her belly was very wide. As the first 3 pups were born, she could not physically get turned around to break the membrane sac, as she couldn’t reach them.

Because we were there, all 3 pups lived, as we opened the sacs for her. After her belly went down a bit, then she was able to reach around to tend to them herself.

©Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Marsh
dog birth, 2 week old Golden Retriever puppies

Many times, your dog may birth 2 to 4 pups, then take several hours before she gets back around to delivering any more.

Though Golden Retrievers are notorious for taking a very long time to give birth, they can sometimes surprise you.

One of my dogs gave birth to 9 puppies in 2 hours, start to finish. That is a bit unusual though.

When whelping puppies, it is normal for your Golden Retriever to birth many of her babies tail first, rather than head first. This is called a breech birth and is quite common and nothing to worry about.

By the time your dog is getting close to finishing giving birth to her puppies, she will become very tired and worn out and can become slow in removing the membrane sac.

You’ll need to stay with her until all of the pups are born, as you do not want to lose a pup due to her being too slow in getting the sac off.

©Photo Courtesy of Zenia Johnsen
dog birth, close up of newborn Golden Retrievers

The temperature of the room that the pups are to be born in must be very warm. Puppies can not regulate their own body heat and getting cold is a death sentence for them.

Newborn pups are suppose to be kept at 90°F but the room does not need to be that warm, since they have momma and littermates to snuggle up to for body heat. You will need to have the room at 75° to 80°F for the first week though.

A puppy’s shiver reflex kicks in at 3 weeks of age and that is when they are able to regulate their own body heat and keep themselves warm.

Golden Retriever pups will weigh between 14 and 16 ounces at birth.

After giving birth, the new mother will not want to leave her pups. She will need to go to the bathroom though, and you may need to snap a leash on her and coax her to go outside.

©Photo Courtesy of Debbi Conlon
whelping puppies, adorable young Golden Retriever puppy

This is a good time to have someone quickly change the newspapers in her box while you are walking mom. She will not want to be gone for more than a couple of minutes.

She will look unbelievably skinny after giving birth. This is normal, although kind of startling!

After dog birth, she may not eat anything for the first day, or even two. Some of this will be to her eating the placenta’s, but another reason is because she does not want to leave her pups.

Switch her over to a good quality puppy food and leave the food and water bowl within sight of her puppies. If she can easily see her puppies, she will eat and drink the way she should.

Expect her to have a few loose bowel movements. Some of this may be from ingesting the placentas, but also from making an abrupt switch in her diet. It will go away after a couple of days.

Even though you may be tempted to give your dog a bath, do not do so yet. Because of their undercoat, Golden Retrievers do not dry quickly and you do not want the pups to get chilled while nursing.

©Photo Courtesy of Jarrett Maxwell

dog birth, beautiful Golden Retriever

Even if your dog is used to having her fur dried with a hair dryer, she will not want to be away from her puppies that long and will only get upset.

A day after your dog has given birth, take her to the vet to be checked to make sure she has not retained any placentas.

I always leave the puppies at home, rather than take them with her, due to not wanting them to be exposed to any germs. I leave them on a heating pad for warmth, making sure they can crawl off of it if they get to hot.

Vaginal discharge is to be expected after dog birth. It should be odorless and may at first even be a green color. After that, it can be red, dark brown, or even black.

It can continue for 4 to 6 weeks, but the amount should be greatly reduced after the first couple of days, and there should only be a slight amount for the next several weeks.

If there is an odor, or the amount is not lessening, then she will need to see a vet.




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Golden Retriever in a cowboy hat


Golden Retriever puppies in basket


Old Golden Retriever smiling