If this is the first time your dog has gotten pregnant, you may not be prepared for the birth process. While most deliveries go off without a hitch, some don't go quite the way they should. When that happens, you should be prepared to intervene, if necessary. Here are three scenarios you'll need to be prepared for.

Mother Doesn't Remove the Membrane

As soon as a puppy is born, the mother should begin licking at the membrane . The licking does two things. It stimulates the breathing process and it removes the membrane from around the pup. If the mother does not start licking after several seconds, you should begin removing the membrane. 

Start by breaking the membrane open from around the pup's head and gently pull it away from its face. Don't try to remove the membrane completely or you may pull on the cord, which can cause excessive bleeding. Once the membrane is freed from the puppies face, it will slip down towards the umbilical cord.

Mother Doesn't Cut the Umbilical Cord

In most cases, the umbilical cord will be cut by the mother. She'll do this by biting on the cord until it comes loose. If she's a first-time mother or she has a large litter, she may either refuse to cut the cords or she'll get busy and forget a few. If that happens, you'll need to step in and cut the cords.

When mother dogs bite through the cords, the biting causes the blood vessels to get pinched together, which stops the bleeding. If you have to cut the cords, you'll need to be prepared for bleeding. You'll need sterile gloves, a clean pair of scissors, iodine, and thread.


  1. Use your scissors to cut a 6" piece of thread.
  2. Tie the thread tightly around the umbilical cord about ½" away from the puppy's belly.
  3. Use your clean scissors to cut the cord about ¼" away from the knot that you've tied.
  4. Be sure to cut the cord on the side of the knot that's farthest away from the puppy's body.
  5. Dip the end of the cord in iodine to prevent bacteria from entering the puppy.
  6. Leave the thread in place until the cord dries up and falls off.

Puppy Isn't Breathing at Birth

Mothers usually stimulate breathing by licking their newborns. However, sometimes the puppy still refuses to breathe. When that happens, you'll need to be prepared for emergency intervention. Place the puppy in a clean towel and begin rubbing it vigorously, all over the body. Be sure to rub on both sides of the puppy's chest. This should get the puppy to breathe.

In most cases, puppies are born without any complications. Once in a while, though, you'll need to step in and help. These simple tips will help you take care of the puppies should an emergency arise. If your puppies continue to experience difficulty following birth, be sure to take them to an animal hospital for monitoring by a veterinarian, as soon as possible.