If your female dog has not been spayed and she is acting strangely, such as panting, whimpering, shivering, and being restless, she may be pregnant and in the first stage of delivering her pups. Other signs of the first stage of labor include digging in her bedding, not eating, and vomiting. If your dog is behaving in these ways, here's what you will need to do.
Keep Calm & Prepare
During the first step of labor, your dog's cervix is dilating and her vulva is swelling. You may feel her abdomen contracting, but don't expect her to allow you to get near enough to her to be able to feel her abdomen. Allow her to do her work while keeping the environment calm and quiet. While her body is getting ready, you'll need to prepare for the birth. The first thing to do is to find a safe place for her to whelp (give birth to her pups) in.
If you have a large box that she can stretch out in and still have room for her pups, prepare the box for her by cutting down a side of the box for her to be able to get in and out of it. If you don't have a box that is large enough, consider moving furniture to make a semi-closed-in area in a corner in your home or use a kiddie pool. The whelping box or area should be quiet and warm. Whatever you use as a whelping box or a confined area, place a large plastic sheet or a trash bag on the floor then cover it with a blanket or bed sheet.
Other things you'll need to gather and place near the whelping box are a laundry basket lined with a blanket and a stack of clean towels. When your dog does start giving birth, she should cut the umbilical cords herself with her teeth, but you'll want to be prepared with these essentials if she does not: sterile scissors, antiseptic solution, dental floss or a heavy thread, and rubber gloves.
Be On the Look Out
After gathering everything that is needed, you'll need to watch her vulva for signs that the first puppy is on their way out. When you see a grayish sac drop from her vulva, it's almost time for the first pup to make their grand entrance. The grayish sac is the fetal sac and looks and acts like a water balloon. When this happens, the first pup is in the pelvic canal.
Your dog should instinctively know what to do, but the first pup is the most difficult one for her to push out. Don't panic if she howls or moans as she strains and pushes. If you don't see the first pup within an hour of the dropping of the fetal sac, call a veterinarian for advice. He or she may give you directions over the phone to help the first pup come out or direct you to head to the emergency vet clinic.
Know When to Help Mama
When the pups are born they will be covered with a thin membrane, which your mama should remove from their little faces with her mouth. If she doesn't, you'll need to take matters into your own hands and break the membrane so the pup can breathe. Mama should lick the pups clean, but you can help wipe the pups down with the clean towels that you staged nearby.
Since the birth of the pups is a surprise and you have no idea how many pups to expect, you may need to feel mama's abdomen after several pups have been born. Additional pups that haven't been born yet will feel like lumps in her belly. As with human births, you can expect the afterbirth to pass after she has given birth to her last pup.