Common Health Complications in Dogs After Giving Birth

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Normally, a dog giving birth is an uneventful process. The pregnant dog will go into labor and within a couple of hours, the pups are out. But breeding a dog or helping a dog give birth is a messy, sometimes heartbreaking business. Birthing is a delicate process and sometimes, things could go wrong. And your top priority is the health of your pet. Throughout the dog’s pregnancy, it should be taken to the vet for regular checkups. This helps rule out any potential life-threatening complications.

Also, educate yourself on dog birthing. You want to know about common health complications that go with it and how to prevent or deal with them. Generally, if you notice something wrong while the dog’s in labor, rush your pet to the vet immediately.

Common Health Complications in Dogs After Giving Birth


Dystocia occurs when the pregnant dog isn’t progressing into labor because of abnormalities. These abnormalities include the shape and size of the dog’s pelvic canal or the size of the pups. When the pelvic canal is too narrow, the pups can’t be pushed out. The size of the pups’ heads could be too large as well, making birthing difficult.  This condition also occurs when the uterus could no longer contract and push the puppies out. Other causes for Dystocia include deformities, pelvic fractures or abnormal positioning of the puppies in utero.

Dog breeds like British bulldogs, boxers, and French bulldogs are naturally susceptible to dystocia. If your dog has been pregnant for over 63 days or has been in labor for more than 24 hours without producing a pup, call your vet. Seek veterinary attention if the dog becomes extremely lethargic, she’s vomiting and there’s a foul-smelling, bloody vaginal discharge.


Eclampsia occurs when the blood calcium level in mother dogs drop dangerously low. Symptoms include restlessness, walking with a stiff gait and high fever. Tremors, disorientation or seizures also points to Eclampsia. If you think your pet is suffering from this condition, rush her to the vet immediately. Also, do not nurse the pups for at least 24 hours. Give the puppies’ milk replacers so the mother’s calcium supply is not depleted from nursing.

Retained Placenta/Puppies

Also known as metritis, this condition occurs when the uterus is infected from placenta or fetus remains. The remains of the placenta or fetus will be removed surgically to prevent infection. Symptoms of metritis include high fever, fetid vaginal discharge, and elevated heart rate. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy. In severe cases of metritis, the mother dog could become septic. If this is the case, bring your dog to the vet for hospitalization.


This condition is caused by infection of the mother dog’s mammary glands. The nipples will appear inflamed, irritated and tender to the touch. Mastitis may be caused by scratching of the pups’ nails while nursing. Symptoms of mastitis include high fever, withdrawal from the puppies and pain from nursing. If your dog is suffering from this condition, you’ll have to hand-feed the pups. You want the mother dog to heal from the infection by giving antibiotics. Consult your vet for the right medication.