What to do if your pit bull is having puppies

Pitbull pregnancy can be a very happy time and we know you are probably quite excited.  However, you may be a bit worried as well, especially if you have never had a pregnant dog. We will go overt the necessary steps to keep your pitbull and her puppies safe throughout the process.

Pitbull Pregnancy Tips

Unlike women who carry their unborn young for nine months, female dogs are only pregnant for 58 to 71 days. The larger breeds tend to whelp later than the smaller breeds.  At around three weeks into the pregnancy, your dog may lose her appetite and begin to experience nausea.  It is also at this time that your veterinarian can perform an ultrasound or palpation to confirm the pitbull pregnancy.

About 30 days after being bred, your vet can perform a blood test to verify your pitbull is pregnant.  Around five weeks, your dog’s rib cage and waist will become broader and more rounded.  Her nipples may become swollen and darker as well.  Finally, at about 45 days of pregnancy, a radiograph can be performed to count the puppies.

american pitbull puppies
A litter of pit bull puppies from Kinneman Kennels (American Bully Pitbull breeders based in Pittsburgh, PA)

A Pitbull pregnancy lasting for 72 days or longer is not normal. If you dog is past due, your vet will most likely give them shots to induce labor. This usually consists of a shot of oxytocin and calcium to stimulate uterine contractions. Dogs will usually go into labor approximately 24 hours after a temperature drop of below 99 degrees. However not all dogs will experience this. Milk will often develop in the glands from 1-7 days prior to delivery but, again, some dogs are different and don’t develop any milk until after the delivery has taken place.


If your dog has a history of pregnancy problems, you will most likely want to have a c-section preformed. Many American Bully breeders choose this method over natural labor since there is less room for errors to occur. While some mothers will naturally nature the pups after a c-section, others may be more difficult. If a c-section is preformed, it’s important to rub the puppies on the mother to have her scent on the pups. This is a way of letting the mom know that they are her pups.

Diet and Exercise for the Pitbull Pregnancy

A pregnant pitbull needs a high-quality diet; however, there is no need to increase her intake within the first four weeks of the pitbull pregnancy.  In fact, as stated above, at about three weeks into her pregnancy, your dog will most likely experience a loss of appetite and nausea.

At about five weeks along, you should begin increasing her food intake and if you are not feeding her twice a day already, you should begin doing so.  It is also a good idea to switch to puppy food, as well as add the right dog supplements to their diet. Bully Max along with Evo dog food is the best diet for pregnant and nursing females. It provides extra calories necessary to help your pet deal with the growing demands of her puppies. Lastly, pregnant dogs need regular exercise to keep them in top shape and prepare them for labor and delivery.  Be sure to take your dog for short walks each day.

Preparing for Labor and Delivery

During the last two weeks of the pitbull pregnancy, you should stop taking your dog for walks and begin limiting her exercise at home.  Additionally, at this time, you will want to limit her time outdoors and supervise her whenever she does need to go out.  Next, you will need to get a whelping box for your dog to give birth in the final stages oft he pitbull pregnancy.

whelping box for puppies
If you do not have a whelping box, you will need to either purchase one, or make one. They are fairly simple to make (How to Build a Whelping Box). However, if you want to purchase one we recommend Dura-Whelp Whelping Boxes. Whelping boxes will save your puppies lives. The inside rails create a tunnel for them to crawl in when the mother is leaning against the rails. This prevents your puppies from being crushed in the corners by the mother.

Make sure you place the box or crate in a draft-free, warm area and line it with plenty of shredded newspapers or wood chips. Never use old towels, or blankets. Puppies can be trapped in the blankets or towels and crushed by the mother. Use a heat lamp or a space heater if necessary. You should keep the whelping area at 85 degrees for the first two days. After the puppies have been whelped, you may then drop it to 72 degrees. This is important since puppies cannot regulate their own body temperatures until they are 3 weeks old.


Is Your Dog in Labor?

Anywhere between 56 and 63 days of pregnancy, your pitbull will give birth.  Typically, when dogs go into labor, they will become quite restless and may pant heavily.  If you have prepared a box or crate for your dog, she will begin to dig and tear at the paper or towels.  This is known as “nesting behavior.”

Fortunately, most female dogs do not need any assistance during labor and delivery.  In fact, it is best that you do not intervene unless absolutely necessary.  Puppies usually make their appearance shortly after the mother dog begins to have a greenish-looking discharge.

As the puppies are born, your dog will eat away the embryonic sacs and will sever the umbilical cords with its teeth.  This is perfectly normal and should be encouraged. When the mother eats the sacs, placenta, fluids, and the arid membranes it will help the mother produce immune bodies in her first milk. When the puppies receive this first milk after the pitbull pregnancy, it will increase the puppies resistance to disease and strengthen their immune system. This milk is called the colostrums.

Generally, depending on the size of the litter, puppies are born about 20 minutes apart.

When to call the Vet

  1. Take note of the time that you noticed your dog go into labor.  If the mom is straining and trying to push puppies out unsuccessfully for a period of one hour, you will need to call the vet. If she strains a little while, then rests, then stains a little more again without producing a puppy, this will not count
  2. If she has produced a leg or other body part but cannot push the rest of the puppy out, you may attempt to assist in pulling the puppy out gently with medical gloves on. If you cannot remove the puppy, you will need to go to the vet right away.
  3. If you see a green, black, or brown discharge coming from your dog’s vaginal area before she has had any puppies, you will need to call the veterinarian. Once one puppy has been born you can ignore the discharge. You will often see dark liquids between each puppy being born.

There is no set rule for how much time will pass between each puppy. Some puppies are produced every ten minutes, others every few hours. Every dog is different and will have different patterns. If you don’t see her straining as stated in number 1, don’t worry about how long it takes between each pup.

When to Intervene during labor

If your dog has produced a puppy but does not seem to know what to do with it, you will need to intervene.  Carefully tear the embryonic sac away from the puppy, cut the umbilical cord about 1/2 inch away from their stomach (Using a pair of sterilized scissors), and present the puppy to the mother to stimulate their breathing by licking it’s stomach. You may then place the puppy on the mom’s nipple until they being to receive their first milk. You may need to squeeze a bit of milk into the puppy’s mouth at first.

Note: Cutting the puppies umbilical cord to short may result in a hernia. Many breeders prefer to cut all of the puppie’s cords by hand to prevent the mother from chewing the cord too short, which may cause a hernia. If a puppies has a hernia, it will most likely cause no threat. However, it will need to be examined by a Vet to determine if surgery is necessary.

After you are sure that all of the puppies have been born, take the mother and pups to your vet for a checkup. They may administer a shot to the mother to clear their system out of any excess fluids.

How to preform CPR on a puppy

revive puppy with cprIf a puppy is born and it is not breathing, you can preform CPR (CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION) to the puppy.

  1. Clear the puppy’s airway by holding it’s body downward and allowing gravity to help drain the fluids from it’s lungs, mouth, and throat. You may even gently swing the puppy in a downward motion while they are upside down in order to clear the fluids even more.
  2. The second step is giving a couple small puffs of air into the pup’s nose and mouth. In order to do this, you will have to place your mouth over the puppy’s nose and mouth. Do not give large breaths of air. Doing so can damage their lungs. Also, be aware the diseases such as brucellosis may be transmitted from dead pups when you come in contact with the puppies fluids.
  3. Quickly compress the area at the back of their bent elbow. This is the exact location of their heart. Press the chest between the thumb and forefinger as shown in the illustration. It’s important to do this quickly since a puppy’s normal heart rate is 120 – 180+ beats every minuet.
  4. When the puppy starts to whine, you will know that they are starting to come back to life. Continue to stimulate their stomach and give them small breaths of air until they are fully alive. You will then want to put them on the mom’s nipple so they can receive their first milk.

Every 15-20 seconds, give them a couple more puffs of air. Rub their stomach roughly with a warm cotton ball to stimulate breathing. This can be done in between breaths and compression sets.couple puffs of air.  You can do this by turning the puppy over and holding it by their loose skin on their upper back (Their scruff). Continue to work with the puppy for up to 30 minuets. It’s possible for a puppy to go over 20 minuets without breathing and make a full 100% recovery.

Feeding the Newborn Puppies

pit bull puppy in a dog food dish
Canned food may be introduced to puppies as early as 4 weeks of age. You may also add water to dry dog food and offer it to the puppies at this time as well.

Breast milk should be the only source of food after the pitbull pregnancy for your puppies until they are about three weeks old.  It is best to start them on a food that is specially-designed for puppies.  Offer them a good-quality, canned puppy food at about three weeks old.  You can feed them dry instead so long as you soak it until it is much like a gruel. A quality holistic dog food such as Merrick’s or Evo is recommended. Bully Max may be used when the puppies reach 7 weeks of age.

Initially, the puppies may not seem interested in the food; however, they will pick it up soon.  Feed them twice a day in the beginning and leave a bit of water accessible to them.  Do not be concerned if they do not like the water right away.  This is normal as they are getting the liquid they need from their mother.

By the time the puppies are about five to six weeks old, you should be feeding them three times a day.  It is also at this time that you can introduce them to dry food if you wish.  Never allow your puppies to leave their mother until they are fully weaned, drinking water and properly socialized. Puppies need to be at least 9 weeks of age before they leave their mother.


Vaccinations (Puppy Shots) and Dewormings

puppy shots 7 in 1
The pups’ first vaccinations should be administered at about six to eight weeks old. You can purchase shots at feed stores such as Tractor Supply Plus. You can order your puppy shots online here. If you are not comfortable in administering shots to the puppies, you will need to take them to the vet.

At about two weeks old, you will need to give the puppies their first dewormings.  After this initial deworming, you need to deworm them again every two weeks until they are about three months old. Dewormer can be purchased at just about every pet store. You may also want to make sure to have your puppies fully vaccinated before you take them outside. Failure to do so may result in the contraction of a number of deadly viruses.

How to give your puppy a shot:

Bully Max is the #1 chosen supplement by pit bull breeders worldwide

Bully Max provides the nutrients that pregnant and nursing females need to maintain weight and stay healthy. It also provides the nutrients needed for puppies to reach their full potential.

Pregnant and Nursing females benefit from Bully Max in the following ways:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Maintain a healthy coat and skin
  • Recuperate from pregnancy faster
  • Produce healthier and more nutrient rich milk for the puppies.

Benefits of adding Bully Max to your puppy’s diet:

  • Reach maximum growth
  • Maintain a strong immune system
  • Maintain a healthy coat and skin
  • Maintain a healthy weight & muscle build

Reach Your Puppy’s Full Potential With Just 1 Vet-Approved Serving of Bully Max a day

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