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Having a pregnant dog at home is an exciting event. In this article we look into the Labrador Retriever pregnancy timeline and what to do when your dog is giving birth.
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Although both pregnancy and labor are natural and non-pathological events, it is important to have a veterinary control during pregnancy to ensure that everything evolves as it should, and to know that you can count on the veterinarian if something is complicated in the delivery.
Your presence is not necessary if everything is going well, but a delivery is long and unpredictable. The dog can give birth to 7 puppies easily and without problems, but perhaps with puppy number 8 everything gets complicated, for example, and it is important to be able to solve it efficiently.
Labrador Retriever Pregnancy Timeline in a Nutshell
- The egg cells are fertilized on the 3rd to 4th day after mating.
- On the 4th to 6th day, the egg cells migrate into the cervix.
- The egg cells then reach the uterus from the 12th to the 14th day.
- On about the 19th day the germinal vesicles settle in the uterine wall and after the 21st day after the mating, the embryos are visible by ultrasound.
- Since the bitch has two cords of the uterus and there is no uterine cavity like there is in humans, the ultrasound is not that simple and you can rarely see exactly how many puppies there will be.
- From the 21st to the 28th day, the eyes and the nerve cords in the spinal cord are formed.
- On the 26th to the 30th day the embryos are about the size of a walnut and on the 29th day toes, whiskers and claws begin to develop.
- On about the 35th day the training of the organs is completed. The fetuses now look like dogs and the color of their fur begins to develop.
- From the 45th day on, the bones get stronger and maybe sometimes you can easily feel a puppy under the abdominal wall. The hair on the dog's stomach falls out. From now on the puppies will only grow and gain weight. At that time, the puppy box is set up in our house so that the bitch can get to know it.
- From the 48th day on, the bitch's teats swell more and more and from the 50th day onwards, puppy movements can be observed on the mother's stomach. Possibly, a little milk comes out of the teats.
- Most bitches give birth between the 58th and 63rd day.
Labrador Retriever Gestation Period
The gestation of a Labrador Retriever lasts on average 63 days, but it depends in part on the number of puppies. If the litter is very large (something very common in this breed) the gestation may be shorter. If the 68 days are exceeded, it can become a problem, so it is important to be clear about the breeding date.
Labor and Delivery in Labrador Retrievers
You will notice that a day before delivery, or a few hours before, the bitch will seek to nest. You must go ahead and prepare a very quiet place, with a good constant temperature, so that the bitch can have her puppies and take care of them in the first weeks of life.
The whelping pen has to meet some special requirements. The floor must be made of an absorbent material that insulates well from the cold and that can be renewed daily. Cardboard is the ideal material and you can complement it with newspaper or old clothes. You must delimit the borders so that the bitch can enter and exit without problems, but that the puppies cannot. Remember that they move a little and can move away and die of cold.
You can offer the dog water, but she will not want to eat. The contractions will make you look at the sides of your abdomen. A fluid will come out of the vulva when labor begins. Puppies are born with a variable frequency. Between them come the annexes, which are something like membranes that the dog is going to ingest. She knows what to do with the cord and how to clean it. You do not have to intervene at all, just observe in silence. There are dogs who prefer to be alone and others who do not want their owner to leave. In the first case, observe from a distance without disturbing, but do not leave her completely alone either.
Of course, if a puppy has difficulties, or if the dog does not look good, you have to intervene. When more than two hours have passed since the last puppy and you feel that there are more still to be born (or you know it by ultrasound) it is time for the vet to come. Same goes for the end of labor, it is ideal to have a little control.
It is not surprising if the dog vomits in labor, and so it is not a good idea to give her solid food. However, once she has finished giving birth she will want to eat, if she is not very exhausted. The following weeks will be a lot of work for her, so special nutrition is very important, just as it was in pregnancy.
It is not a good idea to touch small puppies a lot, no matter how calm the mother is. Only do it in case of need, and not in the first hours, or even days. For her it is important to take care of her puppies and it is not good to intervene.
If there are children in the house and it seems like a good idea for them to witness the birth, you have two options. It is best to film it and show it to them afterwards. The other option is that they are present but with the promise of not emitting sounds, something very difficult for a small enthusiast. But if the little ones are really small, we must be very careful with the puppies and the mother in the following weeks, to avoid problems in both directions.
You have to take great care of the hygiene of the whelping pen. Renew the materials frequently and a thorough cleaning must be done, taking care that the puppies are always at an adequate and constant temperature.
How Many Puppies Can a Labrador Retriever Have?
A female Labrador Retriever can give birth to an approximate number between 5 and 10 puppies, which are not few.
The Labrador, being a medium-large breed, usually gives birth to quite numerous litters. However, there are many factors that can influence pregnancy. Thus, they could be fewer numbers, although there is evidence of litters of up to 15 puppies.
Remember that having a dog is already a responsibility. But if it is a female and becomes pregnant, you will also have to take care of the puppies. Even if you give them, sell them or give them to someone, they cannot be separated immediately from the mother, that is, the first three months will be under your care.