Why Is My Dog Shaking After Giving Birth?

After giving birth, dogs go through a series of physical and behavioral changes as they adjust to their new role as a mother. 

While this is a natural and instinctual process, it is important for dog owners to be aware of the various behaviors and potential signs of concern that may arise during this time.

One such behavior that can be observed is shaking or trembling of the mother dog.

So, why is your dog shaking after giving birth?

We outline the potential causes of dog shaking after giving birth as well as what to do and when to seek help. 

Why is my dog shaking after giving birth?

A dog can experience shaking after giving birth due to the normal physiological response of the birthing process, fatigue, pain, hypocalcemia and stress from the whole experience. While some degree of shaking is normal during giving birth, excessive or prolonged shaking or other concerning symptoms is not normal.

why is my dog shaking after giving birth

Mother dog behavior after giving birth

After giving birth, mother dogs exhibit a range of behaviors that are considered normal and instinctual. While most mother dogs exhibit these behaviors, individual variations can occur.

Here are some common behaviors observed in mother dogs after giving birth:

Nesting: Dogs have a strong nesting instinct after giving birth and will often rearrange their bedding or create a comfortable space for themselves and their puppies. 

They may gather blankets, towels, or other soft materials to build a warm and secure nest.

Nursing and caring for puppies: The primary focus of a mother dog after giving birth is to nurse and care for her puppies. She will lick them to clean them, stimulate their breathing, and help them eliminate waste.

The mother will nurse her puppies frequently, allowing them to feed on her milk, which provides essential nutrition and antibodies.

Being protective: Mother dogs are naturally protective of their puppies. They will often stay close to the nest and be vigilant of any potential threats. 

They may exhibit behaviors such as growling, barking, or even snapping if they perceive a danger or feel their puppies are at risk.

Resting and sleeping: Giving birth is physically demanding for a mother dog. After the initial nursing and care routines, she will spend a significant amount of time resting and sleeping. 

This allows her body to recover and replenish energy.

Increased appetite and thirst: Nursing dogs may also have an increased appetite and thirst after giving birth. 

The demands of milk production require additional nutrition and hydration. Providing a balanced and nutritious diet for the mother is important during this time.

Bonding with the puppies: Mother dogs will form strong bonds with their puppies. They will spend time licking, cuddling, and staying close to the puppies.

This bonding helps foster a sense of security and attachment between the mother and her offspring.

While most mother dogs exhibit these behaviors, individual variations can occur. However, any significant deviation from normal behaviors, such as neglecting or rejecting the puppies, excessive aggression, or signs of illness, should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian for further evaluation.

What are the bad signs after a dog gives birth?

After a dog gives birth, there are certain signs that could indicate potential problems or complications. Here are some bad signs to watch out for:

  • Heavy bleeding: A dog bleeding immediately after giving birth is normal, however, excessive or prolonged bleeding can be a cause for concern.
  • Foul-smelling discharge: If there is a foul odor coming from the genital area after giving birth, it could indicate an infection. A strong, unpleasant smell, accompanied by a discharge that appears abnormal in color or consistency such as pus-like or bloody discharge, may indicate a postpartum infection.
  • Lethargy or weakness: While new mothers may exhibit some fatigue and rest after giving birth, excessive lethargy, weakness, or inability to stand or move should be taken seriously. If a mother dog appears unusually weak, depressed, or unable to care for her puppies, it may indicate an underlying health problem.
  • Refusal to nurse or care for the puppies: Mother dogs instinctively nurse and care for their puppies. If the mother shows a complete lack of interest in her puppies, refuses to nurse them, or shows aggression towards them, it could indicate a problem such as inflammation of the mammary glands or maternal rejection. 
  • Fever or signs of infection: If a mother dog develops a fever (rectal temperature above 102.5°F or 39.2°C) or shows signs of systemic infection, such as loss of appetite, lethargy, shivering, or abnormal behavior, it could indicate a postpartum infection. 
  • Abnormal behavior or discomfort: If a mother dog shows unusual behavior, such as continuous pacing, excessive panting, restlessness, continuous shaking or trembling, or appears to be in pain or distress, it could indicate a problem. 

These signs may be indicative of complications, pain, or discomfort. 

Related: My pregnant dog has a bubble coming out (Here’s why)

Common Causes of Dog Shaking After Giving Birth

There are various causes of a dog shaking after giving birth that you should be aware of as a dog parent.

A dog shaking after giving birth can be a result of something small and relatively easy to fix with a veterinary consultation, but it could also be a result of a serious health condition that needs immediate medical attention. 

Below, are the common reasons for dog shaking after giving birth:

Normal physiological response

Shivering or shaking can be a normal response for a dog after giving birth. The process of labor and delivery can be physically and emotionally taxing, which can result in trembling or shivering.

Labor involves strong uterine contractions to push out the puppies. The contractions can be intense and cause the muscles throughout the dog’s body to contract as well. 

The repetitive muscle contractions can result in trembling or shaking.

Fatigue and exhaustion 

The birthing process itself can be physically demanding and exhausting for a dog. The combination of prolonged labor, pushing, and delivering multiple puppies can leave the mother dog feeling fatigued. 

This exhaustion can contribute to trembling or shaking as the dog’s body recovers and regains its strength.

Pain or discomfort

The birthing process can be painful for a mother dog, especially during the contractions and delivery of the puppies. 

Shaking may occur as a response to the discomfort or as a way for the dog to release tension.

The soreness or discomfort in the genital area after giving birth may also lead to shaking or trembling as a response to the pain.

Hypocalcemia (eclampsia)

In rare cases, a condition called eclampsia or hypocalcemia can occur in nursing mothers. It is characterized by low levels of calcium in the blood, usually within the first few weeks after giving birth, leading to muscle tremors or seizures. 

The low blood calcium level is due to the increased demands of milk production.

Early signs of eclampsia in dogs include shaking or muscle tremors or twitching particularly in the limbs. Other symptoms of low calcium in nursing dogs include restlessness, panting, whining, difficulty walking, and even seizures in severe cases.

Certain factors can increase a dog’s risk of developing hypocalcemia. These include large litter size, high milk production, poor nutrition during pregnancy and lactation, rapid weight loss after giving birth, and previous episodes of hypocalcemia. 

Small-breed dogs, such as Chihuahuas and Toy Poodles, are more commonly affected by this condition.

Shaking or tremors are common symptoms of hypocalcemia and require immediate veterinary attention. Treatment involves intravenous fluids and injections of calcium for dogs after giving birth and other medications.

Stress or anxiety

The entire experience of giving birth, especially for first-time mothers, can be stressful for a dog. 

The stress of labor, coupled with the responsibility of caring for the newborn puppies, can lead to shaking or trembling.

What to do if your dog is shaking after giving birth

If your dog is shaking after giving birth, it is important to assess the situation and take appropriate action. Here are steps to take if you notice your dog shaking after giving birth:

Monitor your dog closely

Observe your dog’s behavior and shaking. Note the intensity and duration of the shaking. Provide a calm and comfortable environment by ensuring that the area where your dog is nesting is quiet, warm, and free from disturbances. Create a safe and secure space for the mother dog and her puppies.

Ensure proper nutrition and hydration

Make sure your dog has access to fresh water and a balanced diet. Adequate nutrition and hydration are essential for her well-being and milk production.

Contact your veterinarian

If the shaking continues or worsens, or if your dog displays other abnormal symptoms such as heavy bleeding, disorientation, fever, loss of appetite, abnormal discharge, weakness, pain, distress, refusal to nurse the puppies, or aggression towards them, contact your veterinarian. 

If you have concerns about the health or well-being of the puppies, such as if they appear weak, fail to nurse, or show signs of illness, it is also important to consult with your veterinarian to ensure their proper care and address any potential issues.

It is always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health and well-being of the mother dog and her puppies. 

If you have any doubts or concerns about the shaking or overall condition of your dog after giving birth, contact your veterinarian for professional advice and appropriate guidance.

Key Takeaway

It is not uncommon for a dog to experience shaking or trembling after giving birth. The shaking can occur due to normal physiological responses during the birthing process as well as other underlying health problems. 

While some shaking is considered normal, it is important to monitor your dog closely and seek veterinary attention if the shaking is excessive, prolonged, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms. 

The veterinarian can assess the situation, diagnose any underlying issues, and provide appropriate treatment or guidance to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother dog and her puppies.