Pregnant Pooches. Should You Expect Puke Before Puppies?

Introduction

As the end of pregnancy approaches, female dogs undergo significant changes and experience symptoms preparing them for labor and delivery. One common symptom during this pre-labor stage is vomiting. Many dogs will vomit in the hours leading up to active labor.

Vomiting before whelping is caused by a combination of factors, including hormone changes, abdominal discomfort from contractions, and the onset of active labor. While vomiting can be alarming for pet owners, it is generally a normal part of canine labor.

This article will provide an overview of the reasons dogs vomit before giving birth, what the vomit may look like, how common it is, when vomiting occurs in relation to labor, other symptoms to expect, and how to care for a vomiting pregnant dog. Understanding the signs of impending labor can help owners know what to expect and when to seek veterinary assistance.

Signs of Imminent Labor

As a dog’s pregnancy nears the end, there are some common signs indicating that labor is imminent. Some key things to look for include:

Nesting behavior – Pregnant dogs may start gathering towels, blankets, or other materials to create a nest for the upcoming puppies. They will want a comfortable and safe space to deliver. According to EVCC, this nesting instinct often emerges 1-2 days before labor starts.

Restlessness – You may notice a pregnant dog pacing or being unable to get comfortable. She may seem anxious or agitated as her body prepares for labor. According to Daily Paws, this is a very common sign that labor will start within 24 hours.

Additional signs like shifts in body temperature, changes in appetite, enlarged nipples, and discharge may also be observed in the final days before labor begins.

Reasons for Vomiting Before Labor

There are a few main reasons why a female dog may vomit in the hours or days leading up to giving birth:

Hormonal changes – In the final week of pregnancy, a dog’s progesterone levels decline while estrogen levels rise sharply. This hormonal shift can cause nausea and vomiting. The changing hormones cause gastric upset and affect the digestive tract. Sources: https://veterinaryemergencygroup.com/blog/6-signs-of-a-dog-in-labor/, https://www.rochesterhillsvet.com/articles/labor_and_delivery_in_dogs.php

a list showing reasons why a pregnant dog vomits before labor

Gastric upset – The pregnant dog’s abdomen enlarges in the final week, putting pressure on her stomach and intestines. This added pressure can slow digestion and cause nausea. Some dogs also eat less right before labor, which leads to excess stomach acid that induces vomiting. Sources: https://evcc.com/blog/10-signs-dog-in-labor/, https://www.rochesterhillsvet.com/articles/labor_and_delivery_in_dogs.php

How Common is Vomiting Before Labor?

Vomiting before labor is a relatively common occurrence in pregnant dogs. According to veterinary sources, around 20-30% of dogs will experience some nausea and vomiting in the hours leading up to giving birth. This is often due to hormonal changes, discomfort, and the effects of strong uterine contractions on the digestive system.

While not all dogs will vomit before labor, it is considered normal if it does occur. However, prolonged vomiting, vomiting more than 12 hours before labor, or vomiting accompanied by other concerning symptoms may indicate an underlying issue that requires veterinary attention.

Overall, mild vomiting is relatively common and expected in some dogs as a precursor to the birthing process. However, abnormal or excessive vomiting warrants a call to the vet to rule out potential complications.

How Soon Before Labor Does Vomiting Occur?

Vomiting can occur anywhere from 24 hours to 2 weeks before a female dog goes into labor, but it most commonly happens within 12-24 hours of the start of stage 1 labor. The drop in progesterone and rise in estrogen that occurs right before birth triggers nausea and vomiting in some dogs, similar to morning sickness in pregnant women.

text stating that most dogs vomit within 12-24 hours before labor

According to veterinarians, vomiting within 24 hours of the temperature drop that signals the start of labor is the most reliable sign that a dog is about to give birth. However, every dog is different – some may vomit earlier or not vomit at all before whelping their puppies.

What Does the Vomit Look Like?

The vomit from a pregnant dog about to give birth can vary in appearance. Some key things to look for include:

  • Color – The vomit may be clear, yellow, or greenish in color. Clear vomit is common and indicates digestive upset. Yellow or green vomit may indicate bile and be a sign of more severe nausea.
  • Contents – The vomit may contain food contents, especially if the dog ate recently. Some dogs may vomit bile or fluid if their stomach is empty.
  • Consistency – Vomit may be watery and liquidy or thicker and more mucus-like. Liquid vomit tends to be more common.
  • Volume – Some dogs may vomit only a small amount, while others have more significant vomiting. Pay attention to any change in volume.

If the vomit contains blood or has an unusual color like black or reddish, it is considered abnormal and the dog should be seen by a vet. Otherwise, clear, yellow, or greenish vomit around the time of labor may be expected.

Other Symptoms Alongside Vomiting

Along with vomiting, pregnant dogs going into labor commonly experience other symptoms in the 24-48 hours prior to giving birth. Two of the most notable are loss of appetite and pacing.

It’s normal for a dog’s appetite to decrease dramatically in the day or two before labor begins. This is due to the discomfort and abdominal pressure caused by the puppies moving into birthing position. According to the AKC, some dogs won’t eat at all the day before whelping. The nausea that leads to vomiting is another reason a pregnant dog may turn down food as labor nears.

Increased pacing and restlessness are also very common in the final stages of pregnancy. As the uterus contracts and the cervix dilates, pregnant dogs become agitated and have trouble getting comfortable. The urge to nest also becomes stronger. These behavioral changes are a sign that whelping is imminent, probably within 24 hours.

So if your pregnant dog is off her food and seems anxious or unsettled, vomiting may follow soon. Closely monitoring your dog’s symptoms allows you to be prepared when labor starts. Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

While some vomiting is normal during labor, prolonged vomiting or vomiting that leads to dehydration is a concern. According to the Veterinary Emergency Group, if vomiting persists for more than a few hours or your dog is unable to keep down any water, veterinary assistance is recommended[1]. Signs of distress during labor are also reasons to call your vet right away.

Some signs of distress to watch for include: prolonged contractions for over 1 hour without a puppy being born, restlessness, signs of pain, pale gums, green discharge from the vulva, weak puppies at birth, or a retained placenta after whelping[2]. Prolonged labor puts stress on mom and puppies, so don’t delay in contacting your vet if any concerning symptoms arise.

Your vet can examine your dog, provide IV fluids if dehydration is a concern, perform emergency cesarean section if needed, and monitor mom and puppies closely. While some discomfort during labor is normal, extended vomiting, inability to keep down water, signs of pain, or lack of progress are all reasons to seek prompt veterinary assistance.

[1] https://veterinaryemergencygroup.com/blog/6-signs-of-a-dog-in-labor/

[2] https://evcc.com/blog/10-signs-dog-in-labor/

How to Care for a Vomiting Pregnant Dog

If your pregnant dog is vomiting, the most important thing is to avoid dehydration. Vomiting can cause your dog to lose fluids, so she needs to replenish those fluids to stay healthy.

Withhold food for 12-24 hours after the vomiting starts. This allows the stomach to rest and prevents your dog from eating only to vomit again. However, don’t withhold water. Allow access to clean, fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration.

a person giving an ice cube to a vomiting pregnant dog

You can also offer ice cubes or frozen treats as sources of hydration. The cold may help soothe your dog’s upset stomach. Just offer small amounts at a time.

After 12-24 hours without vomiting, you can reintroduce bland foods like boiled chicken and rice. Give small, frequent meals rather than large ones. If vomiting resumes, withhold food again.

If vomiting persists for more than 24 hours or your dog seems lethargic or shows other concerning symptoms, contact your veterinarian. They can provide medications or fluid therapy if needed.

With rest and hydration, pregnancy-related vomiting should resolve on its own within a day or two. Pay close attention to your dog’s condition and don’t hesitate to call the vet if you have any concerns.

Summary

In summary, it’s not uncommon for pregnant female dogs to vomit in the hours leading up to labor as their body prepares to give birth. The vomiting is often caused by contractions in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract as the dog’s body gets ready to expel the puppies. While alarming for pet owners, vomiting alone is not necessarily a cause for concern as long as the dog is acting normal otherwise. However, if the vomiting continues for more than 6 hours, is projectile, or accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy or diarrhea, veterinary advice should be sought. Providing a comfortable and quiet whelping area, withholding food in the final hours, and gently massaging the dog’s belly can help minimize vomiting and aid the birthing process.

The key points are:

    a bulleted list summarizing key points about vomiting before dog labor

  • Vomiting commonly occurs due to gastrointestinal contractions as the dog’s body prepares for whelping.
  • Vomiting often happens in the 12-24 hours before labor begins.
  • Some vomiting is normal, but seek veterinary care if it persists, is projectile, or accompanied by concerning symptoms.
  • Withholding food, providing a whelping box, and belly massages can ease vomiting before labor.

In conclusion, vomiting is a common symptom as female dogs near labor from the physical preparations their body is undergoing. While some vomiting is normal, excessive, persistent, or projectile vomiting warrants veterinary examination to ensure a healthy delivery.

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