Responsible Breeding Steps
12 - Be Alert for Signs of Labor
A few days before the bitch is ready to give birth, she may stop eating and
start building a "nest" where she plans to have her puppies-if you're
lucky, this will be in the whelping box you have prepared for her.
Shortly before whelping, the bitch's body temperature will drop to 99 degrees
or lower (from a normal temperature of 100 to 102.5). By this time, you should
have shaved her belly, where appropriate, to allow the puppies to find the
nipples for nursing. If she has a long or dense coat, you should also shave
and clean the area around her genitals.
Approximately 24 hours after her temperature drops, she can be expected to enter
the first stage of labor, when the cervix dilates and opens the birth canal for
the passage of puppies. At this time, she will pant, strain, appear restless
and may perhaps vomit. Vomiting is normal at the onset of labor, but persistent
vomiting may be a sign of illness. This stage of labor is followed by actual
abdominal straining and production of the puppies and placentas.