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A Guide to Pregnant Dog Discharge

Author:
Dog Barking

Similar to a human, especially a woman, pregnant dogs are often found experiencing discharge. Pregnant dogs may have discharge prior to giving birth, while giving birth or even after giving birth. Note that this natural phenomenon is not one fits for all as there are several individual variables as to why pregnant dogs have discharge. If your pregnant dog has discharge, read on to discover several potential causes for this; however, while in many cases the pregnant dog discharge is normal, don't hesitate to see your vet if your dog has discharge and is acting sickly or if the discharge has an odor.

dog behind

Stringy White Discharge Towards End of Pregnancy

Around 1 to 2 weeks prior to whelping day, but in some cases, just days or hours prior to whelping, pregnant dogs may have a stringy, whitish discharge.

This discharge is often sign that the pregnant dog has lost her mucus plug, a temporary lining meant to block entrance of bacteria into the cervix so to protect the pups from invading bacteria and infections. As the cervix starts dilating, it's therefore normal for a pregnant dog to lose the mucus plug.

What does the mucus plug discharge look like? Veterinarian Dan Rice in the book "The Complete Book of Dog Breeding" talks about the discharge as being clear, without any odor and having a stringy, sort of egg-white-like consistency.

Veterinarian Dr. BJ Hughes,  instead describes the mucus plug discharge as ranging in color from clear to yellowish clear and sometimes even appearing slightly blood tinged.

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At times, the mucus plug may not appear as a discharge at all; indeed, it may appear dried up, just like a crust as seen in this picture. Just because you haven't seen your dog's mucus plug being shed, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Many dogs will promptly lick off any traces of this discharge.

"A dog is not like a human, the mucous plug tends to leak out over the course of a week or so before labor starts. It does not signal the start of labor. Most females have the stringy discharge and it is most noticeable after they urinate."~Jane Lefler

Brown/Watery/Mucoid Discharge Just Before Labor

Calm Your Puppy the First Night

Your dog is pregnant for 63 days, and as whelping day nears, you will likely notice several happenings. Mother dog may engage in nesting behaviors, digging up areas to give birth and may perhaps also lose her appetite.

If you have been monitoring your pregnant dog's rectal temperature, you may have noticed the typical temperature drop suggesting that puppies will be on their way in as little as 24 hours or less.

Consider that a dog’s normal temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees, so if her temperature happens to fall below 99 degrees, that's an indication that her serum progesterone levels have lowered, which is suggestive that whelping day is imminent. Along with all these symptoms, it's not unusual for the pregnant dog to have a brown,watery or mucoid discharge, explains veterinarian Dr. Gary.

" The brown discharge is not uncommon. If it were green, then I'd be more worried as that would mean there is an amniotic sac that has ruptured and the puppy would be in danger. Just brown or watery or mucoid is ok."~Dr. Gary

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sick dog

Pregnant Dog Green Discharge Before Labor

A more concerning discharge prior to whelping is a green discharge especially with no puppies being produced. This can be indicative of an amniotic sac that has ruptured and sign that the puppy is in distress and at serious risk.

While it's possible for mother dog to have a black/greenish discharge shortly followed by a puppy, this discharge in this case simply indicates that the placenta has separated from the uterus.

But if you notice green discharge in your pregnant dog and no puppy is being produced, this can be indicative of dystocia, (difficulty in giving birth) and mother dog will need to see the emergency vet, explains veterinarian Dr. Bruce. 

"The green discharge means that a placenta is separating. Because the placenta is the pup's lifeline whilst inside the uterus, it is important that the pup is born soon if this discharge appears."Dr. Pete

Diarrhea in newborn puppies

Green to Red-Brown Discharge After Whelping

After giving birth to a litter of puppies, mother dog is undergoing a cleaning process. During this time, there will be sloughing off of tissue and old blood and the uterus will be contracting and tightening up again.

For about 3 weeks or so, she will therefore be having a discharge. Initially, in the first few days after whelping, mother dog's discharge may be bright red, black or green, but in the next weeks it should start to get lighter and fade to pink or tan until it disappears.

If there are no signs of this discharge reducing, the dog should probably see the vet especially if the discharge becomes smelly, filled with pus and mother dog starts having a fever or other worrisome symptoms such as loss of appetite and lethargy.

"The mother may have a green to red-brown vulvar discharge for up to three weeks after whelping. This is normal, and is of no concern as long as it is not foul-smelling and the animal seems fine otherwise. "~ Dr Margaret V. Root Kustritz

References:

  • University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, Whelping by Margaret V. Root Kustritz, retrived from the web on December 18th, 2016
  • The Complete Book of Dog Breeding, By Dan Rice, Barron's Educational Series; 2 edition (November 1, 2008)

Photo Credits:

Flickr Creative Commons, Dale Honestly! That is not my best side! CCBY2.0

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