Panting After Giving Birth in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Why is my dog panting after giving birth?

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Why is my dog panting after giving birth?

What is Panting After Giving Birth?

Panting is a normal part of giving birth. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how difficult labor and recovery can be for any creature who goes through the process of delivery. During birth and for a short amount of time afterwards, your dog will most likely pant heavily. This is completely normal and should not be a cause of alarm. If, however, the panting continues past the first few days and happens frequently during nursing, this is something that will need to be addressed. While stress and exhaustion can be a factor in prolonged panting, more often than not the underlying issues are much more serious. We would need to consider:

  • Incomplete birth 
  • Milk fever (eclampsia)
  • High temperature 
  • Heart problems 
  • Pain 

Regardless of what may be causing the postpartum panting, it is always best to get medical attention to your dog as soon as possible. This is because while some issues may not be life threatening immediately, delaying treatment could potentially cause irreparable damage or death.

Why Panting After Giving Birth Occurs in Dogs

While panting immediately after birth is a completely normal occurrence, prolonged panting is not. If this issue continues for several days after delivering puppies, your dog may be experiencing problems such as: an incomplete birth, milk fever, a high temperature, heart problems, or pain of some sort.

Incomplete Birth

If panting continues for a few hours after birth, it may be due to an unborn puppy or the late delivery of a placenta. Regardless of which it is, if you are inexperienced with puppy delivery, it would be best to contact your veterinarian for medical support. There are a few medications that can be given to help move the placenta along after it has been determined that there are no puppies remaining within the womb. Sometimes, a surgical procedure will be needed.

Milk Fever 

Also known as eclampsia, puerperal tetany, and hypocalcemia this condition is caused by low blood calcium levels. One of the major symptoms is excessive panting, and while it may not seem serious at first, delaying treatment can result in death. Sometimes after giving birth, usually occurring within the first 4 weeks of delivery, a mother dog may have trouble maintaining healthy calcium levels as a lot of her own supply is passed through to the pups within her milk. This leaves the mother with a serious depletion of calcium and can result in milk fever, which will then need to be treated immediately by your veterinarian.  

High Temperature

A high temperature is most always a sign of something more serious and should be checked out as soon as possible. After birth, regular temperature for the mother will be around 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit with a one-degree variation allowed. If it is any higher than this, severe panting will occur. This is an indication that something is severely amiss and you will want to receive medical attention for your pet immediately. 

Heart Problems 

Some more serious problems could appear after birthing due to the stress put upon the body. Examples of heart problems that can cause panting are heartworms and congestive heart failure. If you notice that your dog’s panting is paired with lethargy and coughing spells you will want to get her to the vet as soon as possible in order to be diagnosed. 

Pain 

If panting continues longer than a few days after birth, there may be some underlying issue that cannot be seen from the outside. Complications from birth can cause a lot of pain to a new mother, and can be quite common with a first pregnancy. Monitor your dog carefully and if the problems persist or worsen, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Most bitches who whelp normally will not require pain relief during or after labor.


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What to do if your Dog is Panting After Giving Birth

Panting is completely normal after birth, so it is extremely important to monitor your dog carefully in order to determine whether or not it becomes prolonged. Typically, the panting should stop a few days after birth and the mother has time to relax and recover. You may notice panting occurs more during lactation as the uterus clamps down. If the panting does not stop, however, you will want to seek medical assistance in order to determine the underlying issue of the panting. 

While the act of panting itself is not harmful and should not cause any concern, prolonged postpartum panting can be a symptom of life threatening issues so it is vital to visit your vet in order to receive treatment.

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Prevention of Panting After Giving Birth

After birth, mother dogs should be monitored constantly for the first week. She should get plenty of rest and return to eating and drinking normally without any complications. If she does not respond quickly and seems lethargic, paired with prolonged panting, a vet may need to be consulted. Checking her teats regularly to ensure that there is no redness, heat, swelling, or irritation can help to catch any sign of milk fever in the early stages. The milk should be white and a normal consistency; any discoloration can mean the presence of bacteria which is harmful to the pups and mother alike. Feed puppy food to ensure the mother gets enough calcium and protein, as well as calories.

By speaking with your vet often and monitoring your female diligently after birth, any complications should be easily caught and corrected. Most pregnancies go smoothly, but for older dogs or a first pregnancy it is always important to pay close attention to the behavior of the mother in order to prevent any sort of injury or fatal problem.

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Cost of Panting After Giving Birth

Treatment cost will vary depending on the cause of your dog’s panting. For instance, if your dog is diagnosed with milk fever, the cost of treatment can range from $500 to $2000. 

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Panting After Giving Birth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Chihuahua

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9 months

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29 found helpful

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29 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Still Panthing After Birth Havent Passed Few Placentas

My dog just had puppys, 5 to be exact amd shes still breathing fast, hours afyer giving birth. Only one placent came out and she ate it. Buy the others are still inside her. What medicine do i get so she can pass the remaining placenta??

Dec. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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29 Recommendations

Hello, she may pass the placentas in the next few days. She would need to see a vet for an injection to help her pass these placentas if she doesnt pass them on her own. There is not any over the counter medications that you can use.

Dec. 29, 2020

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Pit Bull

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One Year

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24 found helpful

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24 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Whining

My pitbull just had her first liter (11 puppies) I've been periodically taking her outside to go potty and I gave her lots of water and fed her but now shes whining to me like she needs something, and trembling. It seemed to get worse when the puppies woke up and started crying. The delivery seemed to have gone good with no known complications and all 11 seem perfectly healthy

Dec. 3, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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24 Recommendations

Congratulations! 11 is a great litter size. While some whining and trembling could be normal due to hormonal changes and /or minor cramps, there is also the possibility of a medical issue such as low blood calcium or a retained puppy or placenta. If concerned, I wouldn't hesitate to have her seen by a vet.

Dec. 4, 2020

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