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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16528
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian
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We rescued a Holden Retiever of the streets of LA about

Customer Question

Hi- we rescued a Holden Retiever of the streets of LA about two weeks ago. When faking her to the vet we where told that she was about 45 days pregnant. The ultrasound showed 5 puppies but there could be more since she could not get a clear picture. How can I tell when our dog is in labor?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
I understand that you are concerned about your new girl Molly and her pregnancy.
Normal length of pregnancy can be anywhere from 63 to 76 days, though most dogs deliver at about the 65th day. First pregnancies tend to go a little longer then subsequent pregnancies and generally the more puppies in a litter the shorter the length of pregnancy.
The most accurate sign of impending labor is a drop in body temperature, usually at least a couple degrees, down to less than 99.5F. At this point I recommend you start taking her rectal temperature every 12 hours. That way you will have an idea of what her normal is. When her body temperature drops below 100F she should be within 24 hours of labor and delivery.
Other signs to look for are restlessness and nesting behavior. Make sure she has a place set up for delivery now that she is very comfortable with. During her first stage of labor she will have some cramping and be restless but she won't actively be pushing.
Most dogs will start milk production a day or two before delivery but some start a week in advance and others don't start until the day of delivery.
When she progresses to the second stage of labor that is the active stage of labor. The first puppy should be born within 2 hours of you noticing her straining/pushing and it is usually faster than that.
There usually isn't much more that an hour between puppies and if you see any fetal membranes or a body part protruding the pup should be delivered within 30 minutes, if not that signifies trouble. The problem can be a puppy that is too large to pass through the pelvic canal, improper presentation of the puppy or uterine inertia (poor muscle tone and contractions). She may need help getting the pup out of the fetal membranes. You can also help by tying off the umbilical cords with clean thread about a 1 inch from the body wall.
There should be a placenta delivered with each puppy. Some dogs will want to eat the placentas but I recommend removing them so they do not lead to stomach upset
When she is done delivering all the pups expect her to expel some blood, fluids and the remaining tissues from the pup's placentas.
She may or may not want to eat and drink after the pups. Have fresh food and water ready for her as she needs fluids and calories with all the work she has done. Some dogs however are too nervous or busy with their pups and will wait to eat and drink until later.
Here is a link to an accurate article that will help if you have any further questions and also describes possible complications after delivery:
Best of luck with your girl, hopefully you will have healthy pups in about 2 & 1/2 to 3 weeks. Let me know if something I've written wasn't clear or you have more questions.

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