Pregnant dog panting and breathing heavy

Your dog has reproduced and is now behaving strangely. What to do when a pregnant dog is panting and breathing heavily? In this post we are going to talk about the end of pregnancy in female dogs and how to help these animals in this very sensitive time.

Pregnant dog panting and breathing heavy

Is it normal for a female dog at the end of pregnancy to change her breathing? The answer is yes, around 60 days after copulation, female dogs can go into labor. Delivery in female dogs can be divided into 3 stages:

  • The first stage is the preparation phase. During this period female dogs become restless, reduce food consumption, may try to hide in the chosen place for birth and may dig in the soil. The female dog may be painting and breathing heavily due to diaphragmatic comprehension due to the size of the uterus full of puppies.
  • The second stage of parturition is the fetal expulsion, this phase begins with the birth of the pups along with the amniotic and allantoic sac. Some puppies may come out along with their placentas.
  • The third stage of labor is the phase of placentas delivery. Some puppies can be born without their placentas and these can come out at the end of the second stage of birth.

If the animal shows these signs before 55 days after mating, a veterinarian should be consulted as it may indicate problems in pregnancy that can result in abortion. 

Brachycephalic dogs should also be closely monitored as these signs can indicate respiratory distress that, if left untreated, can lead to the death of the pregnant woman and puppies.

The pups begin to develop after 30 days of gestation where it is possible to observe the increase in the size of the animal. Female dogs with many puppies end up compressing several other organs more, but the change in breathing is the most common symptom to be observed.

If the animal is very panting, a veterinarian should be consulted. The monitoring of the female dogs parturition should always be supervised by a veterinary obstetrician, thus avoiding the death of the parturient and puppies.

Pregnancy care for females dogs

Gestation in female dogs can last from 58 to 63 days and can be extended up to 72 days or reduced to 57 days.  During pregnancy, it is important for the female dog to undergo a periodic gestational follow-up, where the veterinarian will observe any changes in the animal’s health through examinations. 

It is advised to perform an ultrasound on day 30 of gestation for gestational diagnosis and from day 55 of gestation to observe if the puppies are well. X-rays can also be performed after 50 days to count the puppies, which can help at the time of birth to define whether the birth is over or not.

During pregnancy, female dogs must receive specific diets, usually more caloric to meet all the needs of the animal’s body, which must, in addition to maintaining its own physiology, feed the puppies and produce milk.

During the gestational period, female dogs should be in comfortable environments, with as little stress as possible. Low impact physical activities can also be done, but with great care so that the animal does not get hurt, thus putting the lives of the puppies at risk.

And on the day of parturition, what to do?

On the parturition day, separate clean towels to dry the newborn puppies, and sterilized scissors, in case it is necessary to cut the puppies umbilical cord. Leave the vet on alert in case of any problem at the time of parturition, so the vet can provide emergency care to the parturient and her puppies as needed.

The parturition can take up to 12 hours to complete and the interval between the births of the puppies cannot be longer than 2 hours. If the interval between puppies is too long, see a veterinarian.

Parturition in female dogs can be normal or eutocic, when the female dog does not present difficulties in giving birth to the puppies alive. Difficulties at the time of parturition in female dogs is called dystocia, when proper dystocia treatment by a vet is not performed, many puppies and parturient can die.


Female dogs may have painting and heavy breathing the closer to parturition. This can happen due to the understanding of the diaphragm by the utero gravidarum, in addition hormonal changes before delivery can lead to agitation in the female dog that results in painting. In general, respiratory signs such as painting and heavy breathing can be signs that the female dogs parturition is close and all care should be taken. If the animal shows changes in breathing before 55 days, a veterinarian should be consulted to avoid the loss of the parturient and newborns.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Pregnant dog panting and breathing heavy

What is dystocia?

Dystocia is any act that prevents the beginning or progression of natural parturition in animals. Dystocia must be properly treated by a veterinarian, thus preventing the death of puppies and mothers.

How many placentas does a dog have?

Each pup has only one placenta, so the number of puppies is the number of placentas.

How do you know if you still have a puppy in the dog’s belly after parturition?

At the end of parturition, the best way to know if there are puppies in the female dog’s belly is through imaging tests such as ultrasound or X-ray. The experienced veterinarian can also perform abdominal palpation to identify puppies.


Bergström, A., Fransson, B., Lagerstedt, A. S., & Olsson, K. (2006). Primary uterine inertia in 27 bitches: aetiology and treatment. Journal of small animal practice, 47(8), 456-460.

Greer, M. L. (2014). Canine reproduction and neonatology. CRC Press.

Kustritz, M. V. R. (2005). Pregnancy diagnosis and abnormalities of pregnancy in the dog. Theriogenology, 64(3), 755-765.

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