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Pet Labor FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Labor from Your Los Angeles Veterinarian

Pet labor can be scary when your dog or cat is having puppies or kittens. However, most of the time, things go smoothly and your pet needs only routine care. If you are ever not sure whether there is a problem, you can call us at Animal Emergency Centre, your Los Angeles veterinarian.

Puppis and Kitten

Is My Pet's Labor on Time?

For most dogs and cats, pregnancy lasts 63 days. It is common for it to be a little shorter in small breed dogs and a little longer in large breed dogs, but 63 days is about normal. Fifty-nine to 67 days is considered normal in cats. Outside of this range, you should consult a veterinarian.

Can I Tell if my Pet is about to go into Labor?

Dogs will experience a drop in body temperature one to two days before they go into labor. However, because body temperature is individual, you must have several readings from before this time for an accurate comparison. Cats typically stop eating 24 to 48 hours before giving birth.

What is Normal when Labor is Starting?

Both dogs and cats may vomit during the early stages of labor. Dogs tend to pant, pace, and shiver, while cats tend to cry, nest, and groom excessively. Don't try to move your pet once labor has started.

How Fast will the Puppies/Kittens Come?

Each pet is an individual, but in dogs it typically takes 6 to 12 hours from the first signs of labor to the first puppy. Feline labor is a little faster, and once momma starts having contractions, a kitten should appear within the hour. The interval between puppies is usually 45 to 60 minutes with 10 to 20 minutes of hard straining per pup, but it is not uncommon for dogs to take a break of up to four hours in the middle of labor. However, she should not be straining hard during this period.

Again, cats usually labor a little more quickly. Kittens should appear at 30 to 60-minute intervals, but the whole labor process should take 6 hours or less. If the cat has contractions for more than an hour at any point in the labor without a kitten appearing, take her to a veterinary hospital.

What should I expect during the delivery?

Both puppies and kittens are born in an amniotic sac. The mother usually tears this sac open and licks her babies to stimulate breathing, but if she doesn't do this, you will have to. A towel can be used to rub the sac away from the puppy or kitten and mimic their mother's licking.

Most dogs and cats will cut the umbilical cord themselves, but if your pet doesn't, you can tie dental floss about an inch away from the baby's belly and cut it yourself. Dogs and cats also usually eat the placentas, but it is okay if she does not. However, you should count the placentas because a retained placenta can cause problems. There should be one placenta per puppy or kitten.

Who Can I Call if I Need Help in Los Angeles?

Animal Emergency Centre is an emergency veterinary center in the Los Angeles area that is open when other vets are not. We exclusively take walk-in patients, so come right over if your pet is having a weekend or after hours emergency. If you have any questions, you can speak to our experienced veterinary staff at (818) 4760-3882.

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Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Sammers is an 11 year old, Black, Domestic Short Hair Cat. His owner noticed that Sammers was pacing, walking around in circles at home and crying out in pain.

    "I would like to thank all of the staff who helped with Sammer's UTI. He was miserable, and you guys made him better. I cannot thank you enough for helping him. It is great to have a place to go when all the other vet clinics are closed.""
    Roxanne & "Sammers"- June 2012
  • "Kahlua is a very special service dog. He was brought in by his owner when she noticed that Kahlua was acting very painful and didn't want to jump. After a thorough exam Kahlua went home with some pain meds. Kahlua's mom stopped by our Facebook page to send us a note on his progress.

    "Just wanted to thank Dr. Cavanaugh, straight from the heart for seeing our Kahlua and putting our worries to rest. It was hilarious trying to get him to take his Tramadol.... cheese would not work but the Chunky Skippy did the trick. WE THINK YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!! So thank you, straight from the heart.""
    Michelle & "Kahula" - July 2012