Why Is My Dog Panting 3 Days After Giving Birth?

It’s common for mother dogs to pant more than usual in the days following giving birth, known as postpartum panting. This is due to the significant physical exertion of labor and delivery. The mother dog’s body temperature also rises during labor and remains elevated for a few days afterwards, which leads to increased panting to cool down. Panting helps lower the dog’s core temperature and is considered normal for the first 3 days or so after giving birth as the dog recovers.

Normal Postpartum Panting

It’s common for mother dogs to pant more frequently for the first few days after giving birth. This postpartum panting is a normal way for her body to regulate temperature and hormones as it recovers from the birthing process. According to veterinarians, panting helps lower the new mom’s body temperature and blood pressure after the intensity of labor and delivery [1].

The contractions of labor place high demands on the circulatory system. After birth, the mother dog’s body needs to dissipate all that extra heat and energy. Panting enables her to cool down and catch her breath as her body transitions back to a non-pregnant state.

As long as the panting isn’t excessive or accompanied by other symptoms, postpartum panting is nothing to worry about. It’s simply the mother dog’s way of regulating herself after the significant effort of giving birth.

Signs of Normal vs Abnormal Panting

It’s common for a mother dog to pant more than usual for 2-3 days after giving birth. This mild panting is normal and helps her body recover. Signs it’s normal postpartum panting include:

  • The panting increases when nursing or interacting with puppies
  • It’s intermittent, not constant heavy breathing
  • Her appetite and energy levels are normal
  • She doesn’t seem distressed

You should be concerned if the panting is excessive, continuous, or accompanied by other symptoms. Abnormal panting to watch for includes:

  • Rapid, shallow breaths with no breaks
  • Hyperventilating or gasping for air
  • Noisy, raspy, or wheezing breaths
  • Open-mouth breathing with salivation
  • Lethargy, weakness, or collapsing
  • Loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Discharge or swelling of mammary glands
  • Signs of pain like whining or aggression

If you notice any of these red flags in combination with excessive panting, it could signify an underlying medical issue requiring veterinary attention. Carefully monitoring your dog’s breathing patterns, energy levels, and other symptoms allows you to differentiate normal recovery panting from problematic panting after giving birth.

Monitoring Panting

It’s normal for a dog to pant more heavily for the first week after giving birth as their body recovers. Panting tends to peak around 2-3 days postpartum as milk comes in, but should steadily decrease after that point. By 10-14 days postpartum, panting levels should return close to normal.

You should start to get concerned if heavy or rapid panting persists beyond the first week after whelping. Contact your veterinarian if panting seems excessive and does not improve after 2 weeks postpartum. It’s also worth bringing your dog in if the panting seems to suddenly worsen or return after abating.

When monitoring panting, look for signs like:
– Panting that continues for more than a week post-whelp
– No decrease in panting levels
– Open-mouth breathing with tongue hanging out
– Abdominal breathing or short, shallow breaths
– Panting that seems pained or distressed
– Panting unrelated to feeding pups or mild exertion

Keeping an eye on the duration and severity of panting can help determine if it’s within normal limits or requires veterinary attention.

Potential Causes

There are several common potential causes for a mother dog to pant excessively in the days after giving birth:

  • Infection – Infections of the uterus or mammary glands can cause pain, fever, and panting. These are serious and require prompt veterinary care. Signs include smelly vaginal discharge, swollen or hot mammary glands, loss of appetite, and lethargy.
  • Pain – Straining or prolonged labor, a retained placenta, mastitis, or uterine infection can all result in significant pain and discomfort for the mother dog. This pain leads to rapid panting to cope. Veterinary examination is required.
  • Heat exhaustion – Nursing mother dogs generate a lot of body heat. If the area is overly warm and stuffy, heat exhaustion can occur. Panting helps cool her down. Ensure she has access to shade, cool water, and good airflow.
  • Anxiety/stress – The process of giving birth and adjusting to a litter of puppies is stressful. An anxious or stressed mother dog may pant excessively. Providing a secure quiet area away from noise and commotion can help.

While mild panting is normal after giving birth, excessive or prolonged panting lasting over 6-12 hours warrants veterinary assessment to check for infections, retained placentas, pain, and other complications.


After giving birth, mother dogs are susceptible to developing infections like mastitis (inflammation of the mammary glands) or metritis (inflammation of the uterus). These infections often cause the mother dog to run a fever and pant more than normal. Other symptoms of postpartum infection include:

  • Discharge from the vagina that is foul-smelling, green, or bloody
  • Hot, hard, painful, or swollen mammary glands
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

If a postpartum infection is suspected, the mother dog should be examined by a veterinarian right away. Diagnosis is made through physical exam, lab tests, and imaging like x-rays or ultrasound. Treatment usually involves antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and fluid therapy. The puppies may need to be supplemented with bottle feeding if the mother is too ill to nurse properly. With prompt veterinary care, most dogs recover fully from postpartum infections.





It’s common for mother dogs to experience some discomfort and pain after giving birth. The contractions of labor put pressure on the uterus and abdominal muscles, which can leave the mother dog sore. Certain signs like whimpering, reluctance to lie down, lack of appetite, restlessness, and continuing panting can indicate your dog is experiencing postpartum pain. This typically resolves within 12-24 hours after delivery as the uterus returns to normal size and inflammation reduces.

If your dog shows signs of pain longer than a day after birth, excess panting may be an indicator to monitor closely. Providing a hot water bottle and soft bedding can help ease muscle soreness. You can also give puppy-safe pain medication under the guidance of your veterinarian to provide some relief. But if pain persists beyond 48 hours, contact your vet as it could signal complications like an infection or retained placenta.

According to [1], gentle massage and warm compresses applied to the mammary glands can help relieve pain and inflammation from nursing. Allow your dog to rest as needed between nursing, as overexertion can worsen discomfort. Keeping the whelping area calm and soothing your dog with petting and praise can also help manage any anxiety or stress exacerbating pain.

[1] https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Why-is-my-Dog-Panting-After-Giving-Birth

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion can occur in mother dogs who are trying to regulate their body temperature after giving birth. Dogs pant to cool themselves down, but excessive panting 3 days after whelping may be a sign of heat exhaustion.[1] New mother dogs need extra care and monitoring to make sure their body temperature remains in a healthy range.

The normal temperature for a postpartum dog is around 101.5°F, with a 1° variation allowed.[2] If the mother dog’s temperature rises too far above this, it indicates overheating and potential heat exhaustion. Other signs include heavy panting, lethargy, and warm dry skin.

To regulate the dog’s body temperature, focus on cooling techniques like providing access to cool water, placing ice packs near (but not directly on) the dog, and using fans to circulate air. Take the dog’s temperature frequently and discontinue cooling methods once the temperature drops to 101-102°F. Contact your veterinarian if temperature regulation proves difficult.

Preventing overheating in the first place is ideal. This means providing shade, limiting exercise, and monitoring the mother dog closely in the days after giving birth. With vigilance and prompt cooling if needed, heat exhaustion can often be reversed.


It’s common for mother dogs to experience some anxiety and stress in the days after giving birth. The process of labor and delivery is taxing both physically and mentally. In addition, new mom dogs can feel overwhelmed caring for a litter of puppies around the clock.

If panting seems excessive or occurs alongside other signs of anxiety like restlessness, pacing, or whimpering, it may be time to step in. There are several things you can do to help soothe and calm an anxious mother dog:

  • Give her a quiet space away from the puppies where she can rest undisturbed. Place food, water, and comfortable bedding there.
  • Try calming supplements or pheromone diffusers/sprays designed for anxious dogs.
  • Limit visitors and activity around the mom and puppies.
  • Use a calm, gentle tone and provide positive reinforcement when interacting with her.
  • Gently pet or massage her while speaking softly to lower stress.
  • Make sure her postpartum nutritional needs are met.

If panting and anxiety persist more than a few days post-whelping, or seem severe, consult your veterinarian. They can check for underlying issues and provide medications or advice tailored to your dog’s needs.

When to See the Vet

While panting is normal for postpartum dogs, there are certain red flags that warrant a visit to the veterinarian. Contact your vet right away if your dog’s panting is accompanied by any of the following:

  • Labored breathing or gasping for air
  • Blueish or pale gums
  • Coughing or choking
  • Difficulty standing or walking
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or lack of interest in puppies
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Discharge from vulva, nose, or eyes
  • Bleeding from vulva
  • Fever over 103F degrees

Rapid breathing, restlessness, weakness and other concerning symptoms warrant an urgent vet visit to rule out postpartum complications like eclampsia, metritis, mastitis or uterine infection. Don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian if your dog shows any abnormal signs within the first two weeks after giving birth.

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