Dystocia in Dogs

Dystocia in Dogs

What it is: Dystocia refers to a difficult labor and delivery that occurs when a female dog is giving birth. While most litters are born without any issues, difficulties can arise from a small pelvic size of the dog giving birth, large size or specific positioning of the pups, uterine inertia or issues common in specific dog breeds.


  • More than 30 minutes of strong, persistent contractions without any puppies
  • More than two hours between deliveries of puppies
  • Mother dog displaying signs of pain, licking vulvar area when contracting
  • Bloody discharge

Treatment: Dogs experiencing dystocia should be helped by a vet until all the pups are born and the mother is stabilized. Only a select few pet insurance companies cover expenses related to breeding and delivery, and they may have exclusions for certain breeds known for having difficult births. Make sure you review exclusions carefully before enrolling in a policy if you plan on breeding your dog.

Return to the Dog Health Problems glossary.


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