Dog in Labor Not Pushing – Causes & How To Help

A dog can sometimes be in labor but is not pushing the puppies out.

Dogs are amazing animals, but they can be very obstinate when it comes to giving birth, and labor is a very stressful thing that can happen to them.

dog in labor not pushing causes

This blog will explore possible causes and what you should do if your dog has had a long labor and hasn’t pushed the puppies out.

Reasons Why A Dog Is Not Pushing During Labour

1. Your Dog Has Blocked Her Cervix

The most common reason dogs are not pushing during labor is that they have blocked their cervix.

When a dog becomes pregnant before the ovaries mature enough to release an egg, in these cases, the cervix remains closed until after the puppies are born.

2. She Has Had a Previous C-section

A second possible cause for a dog in labor but not pushing is that she previously had a C-section.

C-sections are surgical procedures where the puppy’s uterus is cut open, and the pup removed.

They are usually performed on dogs with large litter or those whose pups are too big to fit through the vagina.

3. Her Cervix Is Not Fully Dilated

Another possible cause is that her cervix is not fully opened.

When a dog goes into labor, her cervix swells and stretches.

Once it is fully dilated, the puppy is ready to come out.

4. There Is Something Wrong With the Placenta

Your dog may not push because the placenta is not working correctly.

The placentas help transfer nutrients between the mother and the fetus.

They do this by producing hormones that stimulate contractions.

Sometimes the placenta fails to produce enough hormones, causing the mother to enter labor prematurely.

Abnormal placenta includes:

  • Abruptio Placentae. Where the placenta detaches from the uterus wall before the puppy is ready to come out.
  • Preterm delivery. When the puppy comes out early because the placenta did not work well

5. Her Water Breaks

Another possible cause for a dog going into labor but not pushing is her water breaks.

Water breaking means that the amniotic sac surrounding the puppy ruptures.

Once the puppy comes out, the amniotic fluid drains out.

6. Uterine Inertia

In some breeds of dogs, including Boxers, Great Danes, and Doberman Pinschers, uterine inertia can occur.

Uterine inertia is when the uterus doesn’t want to contract and expel the puppy.

Uterine inertia is a condition whereby the pregnant female dog cannot birth her fetus due to the uterine muscle’s inability to contract and expel the puppies from the uterus.

The main symptom is an inability to push the pups at the end of the usual gestation period.

Often the pregnant dog appears bright and alert and does nothing to indicate she is distressed.

Sometimes, the dog in labor delivers one or two fetuses, then stops delivering them.

Labor never resumes, even though there are more fetuses in the womb.

Causes Of Uterine Inertia

In most cases, it is not known what causes this condition. It can be caused by:

  • A genetic defect that affects the ability of the uterus to contract.
  • An infection that prevents the uterus from contracting.
  • A problem with the placenta is that it prevents blood flow to the uterus.
  • A hormonal imbalance.


There are no specific treatments for uterine inertia.

The only way to treat it is to induce labor.

It may be done surgically or medically.

Surgical induction involves opening up the abdomen and removing all the fetuses.

This procedure is usually performed when the bitch has delivered three or four fetuses.

The surgery takes about 2 hours and requires general anesthesia.

Afterward, the dog will need several recovery days before having another litter.

Medication induction consists of giving a drug called prostaglandin F2α to stimulate labor.

Prostaglandins relax the uterus’s smooth muscles so they can contract and push out the fetus.

This treatment is used if the bitch has had multiple litters without success.

If you use this method, your veterinarian should give you detailed instructions on administering the medication.

dog in labor not pushing

7. Puppy Abnormalities

Puppy abnormalities are another possible cause for a dog in labor not pushing the pups out.

Abnormalities include:

Breech presentation

Breech presentation refers to a puppy positioned head down in the birth canal.

It is often associated with puppies that are large or oversize.

Puppies should be born in the right position to move around quickly.

If puppies are born in the wrong position, they may need to be delivered by C-section.

Puppies that have died in the uterus

If the puppy is dead, there is nothing left to push against. The best thing to do is call your vet immediately.

The puppy is stillborn

A prematurely born puppy is another reason why a puppy might not push.

A premature puppy is born before 37 weeks gestation.

Puppies usually start to show signs of life at about 35 weeks gestation.

Deformed puppies

If the puppy is deformed, it could be blocked either way.

Your vet should examine the puppy before you decide how to proceed.

The puppy is dead

Another possibility is that the puppy is already dead inside the mother.

When a puppy dies inside its mother, it blocks the passage.

8. Uterus Abnormalities

If the uterus is abnormal, it could prevent the puppy from passing through the birth canal.

These include poor uterus muscle contraction, fetal or maternal fluid abnormalities, or twisting or rupturing of the uterus.

A C-section is required to deliver the puppies if the uterus does not contract properly.

If the dog is in labor but not pushing, in some cases, intravenous solutions containing glucose and other drugs may help to stimulate uterine contractions.

However, a C-section may still be necessary.

9. Stressful Environment

Dogs that live in stressful environments cannot push because they are too stressed.

They may also not feel like eating or drinking.

10. Calcium Deficiencies

Calcium deficiency is another reason why a dog in labor doesn’t push.

This is primarily because a dog needs calcium to form bones and teeth.

Calcium is found in many foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, fish, meat, and green leafy vegetables.

Other Factors Why Your Dog in Labor Is Not Pushing

If your dog is already old or obese, it is prone to experience difficulty in labor.

If your dog experiences environmental stress while in labor, it could also affect how it pushes its puppy out and may lead to further complications.

That is why when your dog is in labor, ensure it is in a stress-free environment.

If your dog already has a history of labor difficulty, reach out to your vet immediately at the onset of early signs of labor.

Another contributing factor to why your dog in labor might not be pushing is that it is brachycephalic.

Brachycephaly in dogs is a condition where your dog has a shorter skull than what is typical with its species.

Some brachycephalic dog breeds include the French bulldog, Boston Terrier, and pug.

Birthing difficulties in these breeds are mainly attributed to the relative size of their puppies compared with their mother’s pelvis.

Without proper medical care and intervention, it may lead to the death of the puppies or even the mother dog.

So to avoid this problem, some owners of brachycephalic dogs opt to give their dogs cesarean delivery.

What To Do If Your Dog In Labour Is Not Pushing?

If your dog is in labor but isn’t pushing, here’s a list of the best thing to do:

  1. Take her to the veterinarian immediately.
    If you wait, the chances of complications increase.
    Ensure your dog gets checked over carefully so that any potential problems can be treated immediately.
  2. You can give your dog water to drink, encouraging her to urinate more frequently.
    You can also offer her food; some dogs prefer dry food, while others enjoy wet food.
  3. Also, your dog needs to have plenty of room to move around.
    She may be uncomfortable if she is confined in a crate or cage.
    You may want to get a large towel and place it under her belly to provide extra comfort.

As soon as you arrive at the vet, ask about ways to help your dog.

Medications help with pain relief and relax the muscles involved in birthing.

Your vet may recommend supplements to improve your dog’s nutrition.

They may suggest using a heating pad to keep your dog comfortable during labor.

Final Thought

It is vital to remember that every dog has a unique way of going into labor.

Some breeds tend to labor and push the pups earlier than others.

So, even though your dog might not be doing anything unusual, your dog may be having a difficult time.

So, if you notice that your dog isn’t acting normally, it is always better to call your veterinarian.