How Long Can a Dog Go Between Delivering Puppies?

By Prev Info - October 10, 2022

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If your dog takes a break in between delivering puppies, don't panic. That's a normal part of the canine birth process. However, if a dog takes too long in between deliveries or strains for a long time without producing a pup, that's another story. Your dog will probably be just fine when the blessed event occurs, but have all your veterinarian's contact information on hand in case of emergency.

Early Labor

Your dog's 63-day gestation period is coming to a close, with the puppies due any time. Take her temperature regularly as the due date draws near. Normally, a dog's temperature is about 101.5 degrees. If it drops by 2 degrees, labor is starting.

As labor begins, your dog becomes restless. She might lose her appetite and may even vomit. This early stage generally lasts at least 10 hours and up to 24 hours. The mother-to-be wants to nest, spending time in the private, quiet area you've put together for whelping.

During this period, her uterine contractions begin, becoming stronger as the time for delivery draws near. Even when hard contractions start, a few hours could elapse before the initial puppy appears. Keep a close eye on the mother, but don't interfere unless problems arise.


As labor progresses, the mother's cervix dilates in preparation for delivery. Fetal tissues come out of the vagina prior to the first pup. If your dog strains hard for more than half an hour without producing that first puppy, contact your vet. Normally, a puppy arrives every half-hour to hour, but it's not unusual for the mother to take a rest for a couple of hours after delivering a few babies. While she's resting, the placenta from the already-arrived puppies is expelled by mild contractions.


If the mother's resting for two hours, appearing calm and caring for the puppies, don't worry. However, if she's given birth to only one puppy and more than two hours pass, call the vet. If she appears to be trying to give birth to additional puppies for more than two hours, take her and all the puppies to an emergency veterinary hospital.

Carefully place the puppies in a draft-free box lined with towels and a hot water bottle underneath the towel, and take them to the car. For the puppies' sake, turn up the heat. Gently lift the mother into your vehicle after lining the seat with newspaper or clean blankets.


Dystocia means problems giving birth. Passage of more than two hours between puppies often indicates dystocia, as does straining for more than 30 minutes with any puppy. Giving birth isn't a pleasant or easy experience, but if your dog appears to be in extreme pain, that's a sign that something's wrong.

It's possible a puppy is stuck in the birth canal or a fetus has died. A large amount of blood discharged between births is a red-alert veterinary emergency, as is a greenish discharge with no birth following. Take your dog and the puppies to an emergency veterinary hospital. A Caesarean section might save the life of mother and unborn pups.


Try to keep track of the placentas of each puppy, even if the mother dog starts eating them. You want to make sure she's expelled all of the afterbirth, as retained placentas lead to serious infections. Observe the puppies to make sure all nurse and receive the mother's colostrum, that important first milk containing antibodies. Take mother and puppies to the vet within a day or so of birth for an examination.