How to Know Your Pet Is in Labor – And What to Do If She Is!

The arrival of new puppies or kittens in your family is an exciting time. Your pet will usually know when it is time to deliver and during a normal birth will not need much intervention. You should be familiar with what a normal birth entails so you will know if your dog or cat is in distress and may need emergency intervention.


Your dog will have two stages of labor. Stage one is the preparation. This can last anywhere from 6-12 hours. During this time your dog may pant, pace, shiver and exhibit restless behavior. This is completely normal. Make sure she has a soft blanket and also a private space that is away from other animals in the household.

The second stage is when you will get to meet the puppies. A dog should have about 10-30 minutes of hard labor to deliver each pup. If your dog is straining to deliver a pup for more than one hour, you should call your veterinarian immediately.

Going more than four hours between birthing puppies is also a sign that your dog needs help. If labor has stopped but you know there are more babies to be birthed, your dog needs the assistance of a veterinarian.

Some dog breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers are known for having hard labors. Do some research before your dog begins labor. If you have a dog who is known for having difficult births you can prepare ahead.


Cats will usually pass through labor and delivery without any human intervention but if you see signs that your cat is having a difficult birth you should call your veterinarian.

Your cat should not go more than 4 hours between kittens. If this happens, she is in need of assistance. She should also never go through more than 30 minutes of straining while trying to birth a kitten.

After the Birth

If you see signs of distress in your pet after she has given birth, call your veterinarian. Fever, listlessness, loss of appetite and lethargy are all signs that something is wrong. You should also call your veterinarian if your pet is not eating or drinking or if she is not caring for her pups or kittens. If you feel something is not right, it is better to be on the safe side. Your vet can answer any questions that you may have.

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