My Dog Gave Birth to a Dead Puppy (What to do)

This blog post will talk about the nuts and bolts of a dog giving birth to a dead puppy. Relevant topics like how to deal with a dog giving birth to a dead puppy, and the repercussions of this will also be covered.

My Dog Gave Birth to a Dead Puppy

It’s heartbreaking if puppies in a litter are born dead, but it’s also important to find out why it happened. The reason affects the future breeding health of your dog and possibly its surviving littermates. Getting to the bottom of the problem requires veterinary testing of the mother and a necropsy of the dead puppies. The vet should also examine any surviving puppies. Avoid potential heartbreak by having the female dog thoroughly examined before pregnancy and issued a clean bill of health.

Even the most knowledgeable and experienced breeders can still produce litters with stillborn dogs. This article has been created to help educate you on the reasons why and preventative measures.

A stillborn dog is one who has died within the womb and before birth. The reasons behind this are very far spread. Including the health and fertility of the mother, breed type, and litter size to name a few. Miscarriages may terminate a full pregnancy but few breeders know why one puppy may have died while the rest lived. There are ways to help avert stillborn births as much as possible and we will be detailing them here.

What causes a puppy to be born dead?

Dystocia in dogs

Dystocia is the term used for difficulties during delivery. Pet MD says that common causes of dystocia in dogs include oversize puppies stuck in the birth canal, abnormalities of the vagina or vulva, and uterine infection. If labor is prolonged, veterinary intervention is necessary to save the puppies and the mother. Bring the mother and any surviving puppies to an emergency veterinary hospital.

Poor mother dog health

For a successful pregnancy, the mother should be in good condition. A pregnant dog who doesn’t receive sufficient food or who is in poor physical condition can easily lose her puppies. Older dogs, even those in good condition, are predisposed to having puppies develop abnormally in the womb and die.

Brucellosis in dogs

If a pregnant dog carries the bacteria Brucella canis, she will generally abort the puppies late in the pregnancy. Sometimes, the mother might actually deliver the puppies, but they are stillborn. Any puppies born alive die a short time later.

There’s no cure for brucellosis, which affects both male and female canine reproductive organs. Dogs infected with brucellosis are often asymptomatic, so have the vet conduct a blood test for these bacteria before breeding. The mother should be spayed, as she’ll never deliver a live litter.

Other causes of stillborn puppies

Veterinary Partner says certain canine viruses can cause fetal death, including the herpes virus, parvovirus, adenovirus, coronavirus, and the distemper virus. Bacterial culprits include E. coli, streptococcus, and staphylococcus. The protozoal parasite Neospora caninum infects the brain and spinal cord of fetuses and newborns, eventually killing them. In most cases, the mother shows no signs of illness.

Genetic and physical defects

Fetuses with genetic or physical defects, such as abnormal organ development or chromosomal abnormalities, will likely die in utero or shortly after birth. The mother’s reproductive system could also suffer from physical defects, such as scar tissue that doesn’t allow proper placental development, resulting in fetuses not receiving sufficient nutrients for growth.

Drug exposure

During your dog’s pregnancy, do not give her any medications or supplements before checking with your vet. Some common drugs, relatively safe to use in non-pregnant animals, can cause abortion or kill puppies in utero. These include dexamethasone, often prescribed as an anti-inflammatory.

Time to call the vet

The website MedicAnimal says that there is little that can be done to prevent dystocia in dogs and other problems during labor, but it is helpful to know when it is time to call the vet. Pregnancy continuing over 63 days is a concern, as are signs of labor continuing for a day with no signs of a puppy coming. It is normal to have a resting phase in between puppies being born, but if the resting phase continues for more than four hours with no more puppies being delivered, that’s a sign of a problem.

According to Barrett Weimaraners, a website dedicated to the Weimaraner breed, puppies born with a green placenta is not anything to worry about. A little green tinged fluid or a green tinged bubble of fluid at the vulva is not a big deal. The website says that green is not a sign of fetal distress, it is simply the color of the portion of the placenta that is next to the puppy’s skin.

Fetal collection

As difficult as it is, if you have a stillborn puppy, collect it and put it in a plastic zip-lock bag to take to the vet for testing and necropsy. Include the placenta, if possible. If necessary, put the remains in the refrigerator if you can’t get to the vet immediately. Wear gloves when picking up the stillborn puppy and placenta, since certain diseases are transmissible to people. You have to work fast, even through your grief, because it is the nature of dogs to consume dead fetuses.

What is a stillborn dog? 

When a puppy dies before birth, this is known as a stillborn death. The death will take place within the womb and can affect the whole litter or just one individual. When a dog miscarries, this is defined as the termination of pregnancy. A miscarriage will terminate a dog’s whole pregnancy whereas the number of puppies born stillborn in a litter may vary. 

However, a miscarriage will still lead to all the puppies birthed being known as stillborn. To clarify, all miscarriages produce stillborn dogs, only some stillborn deaths originate from miscarriages.

Stillborn dogs may die or be birthed at any time during the pregnancy. The death of a puppy could be within the first week of pregnancy or could be during birth. Stillborn puppies in a womb of otherwise healthy individuals can be hugely detrimental for the litter and mothers’ health. 

Furthermore, when the puppy dies, this timing can influence the pregnancy birth date and lead to an undeveloped litter. These then may pass or be born as weakened premature puppies. The prevention of stillborn births, therefore, could save the remaining litter and the mother’s life. Hence why the knowledge for breeders is so crucial.

Can you resuscitate a stillborn puppy? 

It is very unlikely that you will be able to revive a stillborn dog. But it is not impossible, although it is situational dependent. If you are trying to resuscitate a stillborn puppy, follow these steps.

  • Remove any liquid stuck in the throat of the puppy using a suction bulb.
  • Gently turn the puppy onto their back in your hand, supporting their head
  • Try to stimulate blood flow by rubbing the back and neck alongside gently moving the puppy

This technique is the best available for resuscitating newborns but it is still unlikely to work. Labor is divided into three phases and problems can arise in any of the three phases.

What dog breeds are the most at risk of stillborn dogs? 

According to a study in 2012, these are five breeds prone to stillborn births.

  • Dogue de Bordeaux: Due to the breed’s large head size, narrow hips, and large litter numbers. Unfortunately, it is no surprise this breed has a high number of stillborn births. With the difficulties attained in pregnancy due to litter size alone, many of the puppies are unable to attain the oxygen they need. Whilst others are starved oxygen due to the narrow birth canal along with longer birthing times.
  • Dalmatian: This breed often births larger litters, hence why the stillborn rate is higher than most breeds. Breeders argue that longer legs prolong labor times and lead to complications and stillborns.
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks: Due to the desired ridge deliberately bred into this breed, their lower back, stomach and even leg muscles can often be weakened. This can lead to a longer birth due to difficulties with pushing and thereby less oxygen being provided to the puppies.
  • St Bernard: Naturally born with very large heads, often the mother may struggle to birth each of the puppies. When the puppies are crowning, the mother will struggle to push the large circumference of the head out of her vagina. Each puppy, therefore, may get stuck in the canal. During this time they may have the cord wrapped around their throats or even begin to suffocate depending on the location of the amniotic sac.
  • Pug: Although small, this breed has a large head and predominant shoulders, both of which can be difficult for the mother to birth due to size. Furthermore, the larger bone structure of this breed can mean each puppy struggles to find room in the womb and may gain fewer nutrients due to the litter size.

Can I breed a dog who went through a miscarriage again? 

It depends on why the individual has miscarried. If she miscarried because of hormone imbalance or genetic abnormalities in the litter, she should be able to carry again after recovery. Taking her to the vets and asking their advice along with ultrasounds and blood tests to monitor her hormone levels and general health can make sure she is healthy enough to become pregnant again. Do not mate the bitch until she has fully recovered and a vet recommends you do so.

If a dog has miscarried because of STI, age or bacteria such as Brucellosis will not be able to carry a pregnancy again. Support these dogs to their full health and do not attempt to breed from them again.

You should only decide on whether to breed the female again once you discover why the miscarriage has occurred. It is always best to contact a vet for a professional opinion on this and aid as to how to help her properly recover.

What should I do with a puppy born dead? 

When a puppy is born dead and you have decided when you should take the steps to remove it, it can be difficult to know what to do. You can contact your local vet and they will dispose of the body, you may be given the option to have ashes given back depending on each vet clinic procedure. Similarly, animal control will also dispose of the body, although it is unlikely you will be able to gain ashes back.

When a puppy is born dead and you have decided when you should take the steps to remove it, it can be difficult to know what to do. You can contact your local vet and they will dispose of the body, you may be given the option to have ashes given back depending on each vet clinic procedure. Similarly, animal control will also dispose of the body, although it is unlikely you will be able to gain ashes back.

This is further elaborated in this article by  


This blog post talked about the nuts and bolts of a dog giving birth to a dead puppy. Relevant topics like how to deal with a dog giving birth to a dead puppy, and the repercussions of this were also covered. 


Barzyk, Lynn. “What Do You Do With A Dead Puppy.” Farewell Pet, 27 Nov. 2019, the dog gave birth,to eat her dead puppy.

Meggitt, Jane. “What Causes Puppies to Be Born Dead?: Cuteness.”,

Manuel, Maria. “How To Revive A Stillborn Puppy Successfully? (Step-By-Step).” Cupid Dogs, Cupid Dogs, 26 Aug. 2019,

“Stillborn Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & High-Risk Breeds.” Breeding Business, 14 Apr. 2020,

“Breeding – Birth Problems.” Vetwest Animal Hospitals, 30 Jan. 2020,

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