Do Dogs Water Break Before Labor: Essential Signs and Stages to Know

You may be wondering if your dog’s water will break before labor, just like it does in humans. It’s a legitimate concern, especially when you’re trying to make sure your furry friend is comfortable and well-prepared for the birthing process.

In this article, we will delve into the topic, explaining what happens when a dog’s water breaks and when it typically occurs in relation to labor.

Understanding the signs of labor in dogs is essential for providing the necessary support and care during this exciting time.

It is important to remember that a dog’s pregnancy and labor differ from a human’s. The canine birthing process consists of three stages, with the water breaking typically occurring during the second stage.

At this point, your dog may display signs of restlessness, panting, and nesting behavior, which are all indicators that labor is imminent. Keeping a watchful eye on these changes will enable you to assist your pet during this vital time.

Understanding Dog Birth and Labor


Dog labor and birth is a fascinating process, and as a dog owner, it’s essential to understand what happens and how you can best support your pregnant dog.

Dogs generally go through three stages of labor.


The first stage is characterized by nesting behavior and restlessness. During this stage, your dog will try to find a comfortable and secluded spot to give birth. Contractions may be subtle and not easily noticeable.


The second stage of labor is where your dog will start to deliver her puppies. At this point, the rupturing of the chorioallantoic sac, or water breaking, may occur.

However, it’s important to note that dogs’ waters don’t typically break as dramatically as in human pregnancies.

Instead, you might see a clear or slightly yellowish fluid leaking from your dog’s vagina, signaling that labor is starting.

Expulsion of the Placenta

The third stage of labor involves the expulsion of placenta and recovery between puppies’ deliveries. This stage is crucial as it ensures that all puppies and placentas are successfully birthed.

Here are a few key signs to watch for when your dog is going into labor:

  • Nesting behavior
  • Restlessness or panting
  • Swollen vulva
  • A drop in body temperature
  • Loss of appetite
  • Contractions or straining

Understanding these signs and the stages of labor will help you prepare for the birth of your dog’s puppies. If you see any complications or if your dog’s water breaks without any puppy being born, it’s essential to contact your veterinarian immediately. Remember to provide a comfortable and secure environment for your dog, and she’ll be able to deliver her puppies with more ease.

Signs of Dog’s Water Breaking

Will a dogs water break before labor

Physical Changes

  • Watery discharge: When the chorioallantoic sac ruptures, a clear or slightly yellowish fluid may leak from your dog’s vagina. This discharge typically marks the beginning of the second stage of labor, when your dog starts delivering the puppies.
  • Drop in rectal temperature: In the last week of pregnancy, your dog’s rectal temperature may suddenly drop, signaling that labor is about to begin. Monitor your dog’s temperature frequently during this time.

Behavioral Changes

  • Nesting behaviors: Your dog may start to gather blankets, toys, or other materials to create a comfortable area where she plans to give birth. This typically happens when your dog senses that labor is approaching.
  • Restlessness and pacing: Before their water breaks, dogs may become restless and start pacing as they become increasingly uncomfortable. They may also become more attached to you or seek attention, as they feel labor approaching.
  • Loss of appetite: A decrease in appetite is common just before a dog goes into labor. This might indicate that they are nearing the time for their water to break and begin delivery.

Recognizing these signs of your dog’s water breaking can help you prepare for the impending birth of the puppies.

Ensure that you offer her a calm and safe environment by setting up a whelping area and monitoring her closely during labor. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to consult your veterinarian for guidance.

Dog Pregnancy Timeline

dogs water broke early

Early Pregnancy

During the early stages of your dog’s pregnancy, you may not notice significant changes. It’s essential to provide proper nutrition and care to ensure a healthy pregnancy. At this stage, your dog may experience:

  • A slight increase in appetite
  • Some lethargy
  • Nipple growth or color changes

Mid Pregnancy

As your dog reaches the midpoint of her pregnancy, you’ll start to see more obvious changes. In this phase, you may observe:

  • A noticeable increase in appetite
  • Belly enlargement
  • Increased nesting behavior
  • Gradual weight gain

Late Pregnancy

In the final stages of your dog’s pregnancy, it’s crucial to be vigilant about the signs of labor. Watch for these indicators:

  • Loss of appetite 48 to 24 hours before delivery
  • Temperature drop: your dog’s body temperature may drop to around 98-100°F (38.5°C to 37°C) 12 to 24 hours before delivery, signaling that labor is imminent
  • Nesting behavior intensifies
  • Restlessness and panting

Remember to consult your vet throughout your dog’s pregnancy to ensure the best care and support for both the mother and her puppies.

Difference Between Dogs and Human Labor

When it comes to labor, there are notable differences between dogs and humans. Understanding these distinctions will help you better support your dog during their pregnancy and delivery.

Firstly, dogs do not exhibit the traditional “water breaking” symptom that humans do. While humans often experience a noticeable rupture of the amniotic sac releasing a significant amount of fluid, this is less common in dogs.

Instead, they will show other symptoms indicating it’s time to whelp. In some cases, a dog’s water may break, but it’s not as frequent or as evident as in humans.

Secondly, the stages of labor differ between dogs and humans. Dogs experience three stages of labor:

  1. The first stage is marked by nesting behavior, panting, and restlessness. During this stage, the cervix relaxes and dilates, creating a passageway for the puppies. A dog’s water may break during this stage, but it’s not guaranteed.
  2. The second stage of labor is when the dog actually starts to deliver puppies. Contractions and pushing begin, and each puppy will be born one at a time, usually with a short period of rest between births.
  3. The third stage involves expelling the placenta and afterbirth. This usually happens after each puppy is born, but sometimes multiple puppies can be born before a placenta is expelled.

Human Labor is only Two Stages

On the other hand, human labor consists of two main stages: the first stage is the dilation of the cervix, while the second stage involves pushing and delivering the baby.

Another significant difference is the pregnancy duration. Dogs have a much shorter gestation period than humans. A dog’s pregnancy typically lasts for 58 to 68 days, while human pregnancies last for approximately 280 days or 40 weeks.

How to Help Your Dog During Labor

How to help a pregnant dog labor

When your dog is going into labor, it’s essential to make her feel as comfortable and safe as possible. Here are some key pointers to help you provide the best support for your dog during labor:

  • Monitor your dog’s temperature: A dog’s normal rectal temperature generally ranges between 101-102.5 degrees. However, it usually drops below 100 degrees (typically below 99 degrees) within 24 hours before the whelping date. Take your dog’s temperature 2 to 4 times a day leading up to labor and watch for this drop.
  • Create a quiet and comfortable environment: Set up a designated area for your dog to give birth, such as a whelping box. Make sure the space is in a quiet room with no disturbances and keep it warm and cozy with blankets or towels.
  • Look for signs of labor: When your dog’s rectal temperature drops below 100°F, this is a good indication that labor will begin within about 24 hours. In the first stage of labor, your dog will experience uterine contractions and might start pacing, digging, panting, shaking, or even vomiting. Keep an eye on these signs.
  • Be prepared for the water to break: Your dog’s water breaking, or the rupturing of the amniotic sac, usually comes late in the first stage of labor. This will result in a watery discharge, signaling the beginning of the second stage of delivery, where she will start actually delivering the puppies.
  • Offer support but give your dog space: It’s important to be there for your dog when she needs you, but also give her enough space to handle the labor herself. Only intervene if there seem to be complications or if she is struggling to deliver a puppy.

Remember, your dog will need your support and comfort during this time. By staying alert and prepared, you can help ensure a smooth delivery for your dog and her puppies.

What to Do When Your Dog’s Water Breaks

When to Consult a Veterinarian

During your dog’s pregnancy, it’s essential to monitor her health and consult your veterinarian if you notice any unusual behaviors or signs. Here are some crucial moments when you should seek veterinary advice:

  • Sudden discharge of fluid: If you observe a sudden discharge of fluid from your pregnant dog, contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance on the next steps.
  • Temperature drop: In the last week or two of your dog’s pregnancy, monitor her rectal temperature daily. If you notice a sudden drop in body temperature, typically below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, this could indicate that labor is about to begin. Consult your veterinarian to be prepared for the impending birth.
  • Mucus plug release: While the term “water breaking” is more applicable to humans, the release of the mucus plug is a sign that labor is starting in dogs. It is essential to familiarize yourself with this process and contact your veterinarian if you observe this event.

Remember to maintain open communication with your veterinarian throughout your dog’s pregnancy, especially if you are unsure about any symptoms or have concerns regarding the labor process. Being proactive in seeking professional advice can ensure a smoother experience for both you and your pregnant dog.