The main complications of pregnancy in dogs

Paying attention to pets is always important, but during pregnancy this care must be exhaustive to avoid the risks associated with this delicate period.

The gestation period in dogs is one of the most critical, so it is essential to pay constant attention to their state of health. In fact, complications and emergencies can occur during these two months that can endanger the life of your pet and that of puppies. Let’s see the main complications of pregnancy in dogs.

For all these reasons, we believe it is essential to inform readers about common complications that can arise during pregnancy in dogs. As they say, prevention is better than cure.

Hypocalcemia, complications of pregnancy in dogs

This lowering of blood calcium is probably caused by the accumulation of this nutrient in milk for breastfeeding. However, it must be accompanied by a low availability of calcium in the diet for it to become a real problem.


The lack of calcium in the blood supposes its decrease in the cell membranes, altering the potential of the membrane itself. Symptoms of this deficit are restlessness, wheezing, muscle spasms and hyperthermia . If they are not treated in time, the dog could suffer from tetany , which is the rigid and continuous contraction of the muscles and could die.


The short-term goal is to restore calcium levels in the blood. For example, by intravenous administration of specific solutions at a veterinary clinic.

The effect of this intravenous administration lasts only a few hours, so short-term maintenance therapy is required. Therefore, it is advisable to administer calcium supplements both at the end of pregnancy and during breastfeeding, to prevent and avoid any relapses.

Hyperglycemia, complications of pregnancy in dogs

The increase in progesterone in the blood has an antagonistic effect on insulin, favoring the onset of hyperglycemia. In this way, it reduces the transport of glucose into the cells. This is why we talk about diabetes during the gestation of females.

Long gestation

Longer-than-usual gestation worries many pet owners, especially as it delays labor . In some cases the fear is unfounded because it is due to a miscalculation in the count between the day of mating and the day of delivery.

However, in other situations there is a pathological background. For example, a bitch whose previous birth was dystochic or a bitch considered pregnant by the owner but who is not really pregnant.

Symptoms and treatment

In case of false alarms , the absence of symptoms should give us a clue that everything is actually going well. But in the remaining cases, symptoms of uterine inertia may arise , i.e. the inability of the uterus to initiate contractions.

If the fetuses are not expelled correctly, they will die inside the uterus and begin to decompose. This will trigger a severe infection in the mother, which will be evidenced by an abnormal and smelly discharge.

The best thing to do will be to perform a caesarean section to remove the retained fetuses and avoid complications in the female.

The worst complication of pregnancy in dogs: dystocia

A dystocia labor is slow, laborious, and more difficult than usual. In many cases it jeopardizes the survival of the female and the cubs . Dystocia can be classified as:

  • Non-obstructive , i.e. due to primary uterine inertia. It is common in mothers with a very small or very large litter, but also in females who are obese or about to give birth for the first time.
  • Obstructive . In this case, uterine inertia occurs secondarily, due to an extrauterine cause. This can be related to race, previous injuries to the mother or even the fetuses.


In non-obstructive dystocia the symptoms are those of a prolonged gestation, with the particularity that labor begins normally. The problem is that it does not progress and the dog gets stuck in the dilation phase.

In case of obstructive dystocia, the female enters the second phase of labor , i.e. the expulsion phase and continues to struggle without results. If the animal’s effort is unproductive for more than 45 minutes, it means that something is wrong and you need to go to the vet urgently.


Females with primary uterine inertia may respond positively to oxytocin administration . This hormone, in a normal birth, is responsible for uterine contractions. However, if the cause is not fully understood, the condition of the animal and fetuses should be carefully evaluated before proposing administration.

It may be preferable to perform a Caesarean section on a dog that is expecting many puppies and is weakened because it cannot bear labor.

In females with obstructive dystocia, the main goal of treatment will be to remove the obstruction :

  • If the obstruction is due to abnormal fetal posture, it can be corrected by manipulating the fetus.
  • If the dystocia is due to a fetal or maternal abnormality, it may not be possible to correct it to allow for normal delivery. In this case, an additional caesarean section will be required.

As we have seen in this article, complications in dog birth can be caused by very different causes . Therefore, if you notice any atypical situations during this delicate process, going to the vet is essential.

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