How long a dog bleeds after giving birth is a query that many breeders may be wondering about. After mother dog has successfully whelped a litter of puppies, it's important to dedicate time on aftercare and monitor mom for any potential sign of complications. One possible complication in mother dogs is persistent spotting or bleeding lasting days or even weeks after giving birth. Dog owners may wonder whether this bleeding is normal or abnormal and whether this symptom warrants a visit to the vet.
Normal Dog Bleeding After Giving Birth
Bleeding after giving birth, also known as postpartum bleeding, is normal. The term for this discharge is lochia. All lochia is, is basically extra blood, mucus and tissue that was present in the mother dog's body to help the puppies grow while in the womb.
Where does all this discharge though come from? It ultimately comes from the area where the placenta were attached to the uterine. In general, the more puppies mother dog had, therefore, the more the discharge. Generally, the discharge tends to be more profuse the first week after birth. Then, it gradually starts decreasing until it becomes just a form of spotting.
A dog bleeding after giving birth is therefore normal, and it will be present in both cases, whether mother dog delivered the puppies naturally or through a Cesarean section.
What does lochia look like in dogs? The discharge is often described as being watery and dark green in color, and then, as it starts fading, it turns more into red-brown until it disappears completely. Normal lochia discharge should be odorless.
How long a dog bleeds after birth? In general, post-partum bleeding in dogs should gradually diminish in volume over time and should resolve by 3 weeks after whelping, explains Margaret V. Root Kustritz in the book " The Dog Breeder's Guide to Successful Breeding and Health Management."
Abnormal Dog Bleeding After Giving Birth
Things start getting problematic when the dog's bleeding after giving birth is prolonged or gets heavier and/or there are other abnormalities occurring at the same time.
It is therefore wise to have mother dog seen by a veterinarian if you notice prolonged postpartum bleeding or any other changes in the discharge and/or dog's personality. These warrant investigation by a veterinarian as they may be indicative of underlying problems that need addressed such as subinvolution of placental sites outlined below.
If you notice heavy bleeding in your dog after giving birth, keep an eye on her gums and see your vet at once should you notice them becoming very light pink or even white or your dog becoming weaker. These can be signs of anemia and internal bleeding associated with a postpartum hemorrhage (due to poor blood clotting) and warrant an emergency vet visit at once.
Other things to be watchful for are the presence of a discharge with a strong odor, the discharge becoming cloudy or murky, and thus, resembling pus, and changes to mother dog's demeanor such as exhibiting vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss or lethargy.
These changes are worthy of investigation as they may signal metritis (an infection of the uterus) which can be commonly found in dogs after a difficult birth (dystocia), retention of a puppy or a placenta, or prolonged delivery.
Subinvolution of Placental Sites
When a dog continues to bleed beyond 3 weeks after giving birth, this can be indicative of a condition known as subinvolution of placental sites (SIPS). What happens in this case, is that there is incomplete healing of the dog's uterine wall from which the placentas pulled away during birth.
In more simple words, the affected area failed to heal over as quickly as it should have. This condition is more common in young female dogs who have given birth the first time.
While spontaneous remission (healing) of this condition is common, it may take several months for the bleeding to subside, hence, dog owners are often seeking veterinary assistance for help. Severe cases may require blood transfusions due to excessive bleeding and even an emergency ovariohysterectomy.
Upon seeing the vet, affected dogs may undergo testing to rule out other conditions. Testing a sample of the discharge can help differentiate a case of SIPS from a case of metritis. Samples obtained from dogs affected by SIPS tend to only contain a few white blood cells compared to dog with a uterine infection. Blood work may be important as well to ensure the dog is not becoming anemic from excessive blood loss.
According to a study, dogs affected by SIPS were treated with low oral doses of a progestagen (megestrol acetate). Treatment was successful in the treated dogs with the bleeding discharge being stopped within the treatment period of 2 weeks. There were no side effects reported nor reduced fertility in the treated dogs. Fortunately, recurrence of SIPS is unlikely in future whelpings which is great news.
"In this problem, the sites where the placentas were attached in the uterus do not heal over, and they continue to bleed for many weeks. Sometimes, they continue bleeding until the next heat cycle unless you get them spayed! "~Dr. Vicky Lamb, veterinarian
How Long a Dog Bleeds After Giving Birth?
So how long a dog bleeds after birth? As seen, in most cases, dogs may bleed for up to 3 weeks after whelping. Bleeding after 3 weeks, may be indicative of subinvolution of placental sites (SIPS) and this type of bleeding may resolve spontaneously or require treatment. It is not unheard of, for some dogs to have persistent bleeding for months and even up until the dog goes into heat many months later.
If your dog is bleeding heavily after birth, the discharge doesn't subside within 3 months or the discharge appears to be cloudy, creamy, malodorous and/or your dog is showing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss or lethargy, see your vet as soon as possible as these signs may be indicative of an infection such as metritits.
- Successful treatment for subinvolution of placental sites in the dog with low oral doses of progestagen.
Reprod Domest Anim. 2013 Oct;48(5):840-3. doi: 10.1111/rda.12172. Epub 2013 Apr 9.
- The Dog Breeder's Guide to Successful Breeding and Health Management by Margaret V. Root Kustritz
- Textbook of Internal Veterinary Medicine: Stephen J. Ettinger, Edward C. Feldman