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Why Is My Pregnant Dog Whining?

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A pregnant dog whining is one of the first signs of labor. Whining is a natural response to the pain of contractions. Look for other signs of labor, such as nesting, vomiting, and either pulling away from you or getting close to you.

When a pregnant dog is whining and has been pregnant for two months, she is most likely experiencing contractions.

But what can you do if your pregnant dog is whining and when do you need to call the vet? 

In this article, we explore the birthing process (also known as whelping), what you can do to help your dog and when to call an emergency vet. 

What Causes a Pregnant Dog To Whine? 

Contractions are the most common cause of a pregnant dog whining and signal that the dam is getting closer to whelping her pups. 

Contractions are when the muscles around the uterus of a pregnant mother tighten and relax. During contractions, the dam’s abdomen hardens and softens. [1] 

Contractions start 63 days or about 2 months after conception on average.[2] Delivery starts 48 to 72 hours after contractions have started.[3] 

Contact a vet for advice if your dam is not due to deliver but is whining continuously. 

What Causes a Pregnant Dog To Whine
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Will My Dog Whine When in Labor?

Yes, a pregnant dog typically whines during labor. Other clues of labor include reduced eating a few days before and nesting. The damn can also feel nauseous and vomit, seem restless, experience contractions, and lick her genitals repeatedly. 

What Are The Signs of Labor?

Here are seven signs that your dam is in labor: 

  1. The pregnant dog stops eating.[4]   
  2. Nesting – a primal instinct to choose a safe and often hidden place to whelp puppies.
  3. A drop in body temperature as measured rectally. 
  4. Nausea and vomiting.
  5. Whining 
  6. Hardening and relaxing of her abdomen (contractions).
  7. Excessive licking of genitals.[3] 

Dams experience a drop in body temperature 8 – 24 hours before whelping.[5] 

Start monitoring your dam’s temperature rectally about one week before her due date. The normal temperature range is 101–102.5°F (38.3 – 39°C) and will drop to 98.1°–100.0°F (36.7°-37.8°C) before whelping.[6]  

Will My Dog Whine When in Labor
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The Three Stages of Labor in Dogs

There are 3 stages of labor. 

Stage 1 

This is the longest stage and can last up to 18 hours. A dam experiences contractions and dilation of the cervix. She is likely to whine, seem restless, and refuse to eat. Dams can also feel nauseous and vomit, pant and shiver. Encourage your pregnant dog to the whelping box and ensure she is not disturbed. 

Stage 2 

Stages of Labor in Dogs
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As the dog gets closer to giving birth, she starts to pant heavily.[4] Forceful contractions start and a yellow-green fluid is eliminated as the placental water sac that surrounds each puppy breaks.[6] 

Puppies emerge 10-30 minutes after forceful straining. The dam will break the placenta sacs and lick the puppies to start their breathing and stimulate blood circulation before chewing off their umbilical cords and eating the placental sacs. 

The pups find their way to their mother’s mammaries for their first meal of colostrum, nutrient-rich milk full of antibodies that helps the pups fend off infection. 

Call the emergency vet if an hour of forceful straining passes with no sign of puppies.[6]

Stage 3 

A full contraction of the uterus occurs during the final stage of labor to push out the placenta and remaining fluids.[6]

What to do When Your Pregnant Dog Is About the Deliver  

Most dams are able to deliver their pups unaided, but you need to be ready to assist in case of emergencies. Having an experienced breeder or vet on call is advisable, especially if it is a dam’s first litter.  

The best place for a pregnant dog to deliver her puppies is at home. Moving a dog in labor to an unfamiliar place and the presence of strangers can delay or hinder the delivery and milk letdown.[7]

The best place for whelping is familiar, warm, and quiet. It helps to give your dam a whelping box.

What is a Whelping Box?  

A whelping box is a place where the dog delivers and cares for her puppies. You can make it, buy it or use a large cardboard box. 

The box must be big enough for the mother and her litter and allow the dam resting space away from her puppies if she needs it. The sides of the box need to be high enough that the puppies won’t be able to climb over them. [8] 

Introduce your dog to the whelping box in advance so that she can become familiar with it before going into labor. Add her bedding and clean toys to make her feel at home.  [8] 

Whelping Box
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Whelping Steps

Here are steps to follow when your dam is ready to whelp: 

  1. Change into old clothes when the dam’s temperature drops to 98.1°F (36.7°C) Puppies can arrive in 8 – 24 hours and it can get messy if you need to assist.
  2. Lead your dog to her whelping box. Some dams will start trying to dig or build a nest if they are not directed to a whelping box. 
  3. Give the dam privacy during stage 1 of labor. This is a painful, restless stage in which a dam can feel irritable. Keep visitors and kids away from your laboring dam. 
  4. Monitor but don’t interfere with stage 2 of the laboring process, unless it’s an emergency. 
  5. If your dam does not tear the placental sac surrounding a puppy, gently tear the sac open, clear fluid away from the pup’s nose and mouth, and either let the dam lick the pup or rub it to stimulate circulation and breathing.
  6. Whelping is hard work, and a dam can take a break of up to four hours between deliveries. If you know your dam still has pups to deliver and it has been more than four hours since the delivery, call an emergency vet. 
  7. Make sure all the puppies find the mammaries for their all-important first meal. 
  8. Feed the mother. Take the dam a small meal and water and see if she needs to do out to urinate or defecate. 
  9. Schedule a check-up with the vet for your dog and her litter.[6]  

Related: How to Get a Puppy to Stop Whining

When To Call a Vet for a Pregnant Dog In Labor 

Call an emergency vet if your pregnant dog is actively laboring for more than 24 hours, there is more than one hour of labor between puppies, the dam is straining for an hour and not delivering a puppy, or if the puppies are stillborn or appear unusually weak. 

It’s reassuring to have a vet or professional breeder present or at least a call away, especially if it is a first whelping experience for you and the dam.

Time to Call a Vet 

If you do not have an expert with you, here are a few signs that it’s time to call an emergency vet: 

  • If it has been more than 24 hours since the beginning of labor and no puppies have been delivered.
  • The dam has been straining for an hour and no puppy has been delivered.
  • The dam still has pups to deliver and it has been more than four hours since her last delivery.
  • If there is more than one hour of labor between puppies.
  • The dam is in extreme pain.
  • Puppies are stillborn or unusually weak.[6]


Why Is My Pregnant Dog Whining and Pacing?

A dam that is whining and panting displays the restlessness associated with stage 1 of labor. For up to 18 hours a dam is likely to whine, pace, refuse to eat, feel nauseous and vomit, pant and shiver. Encourage her to the whelping box. 

Why Is My Pregnant Dog Crying?

A pregnant dog starts to cry when labor begins. The first stage of labor can last up to 18 hours. You will know when the dam enters stage 2 of labor when she starts panting heavily and crying. This is when the contractions become stronger and the puppies are delivered. 

Why Is My Pregnant Dog Whining and Panting?

A pregnant dog that is whining and panting is often close to whelping (delivering) her puppies. Dams start to pant heavily as they enter stage 2 of labor. This is when the most forceful contractions occur and the puppies are born.   

About Monique Warner

Monique is an avid dog lover who grew up with dogs, cats, and budgies as pets. She has worked as a pet sitter and dog walker. With her passion for dogs and pets alike, she writes articles with the intention of helping pet owners solve their biggest struggles.

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