Whelping Puppies

What are the Signs of a Dog Miscarriage?


If you have a pregnant dog and she no longer looks pregnant you may be wondering whether she had a miscarriage, but what are signs of a miscarriage in dogs?  Like humans, female dogs can also go through miscarriage during their pregnancy, and just as in humans, it can happen anytime along the course. For the attentive dog owner, there are some signs that a dog had a miscarriage, but things can get a tad bit more problematic if your dog is kept outdoors or if she is alone for a good part of the day. Also, if your dog happened to have a miscarriage very early on, such as in the first two weeks, you may not notice anything unusual going on. Following are several subtle or more noticeable signs that a dog had a miscarriage and lost her developing puppies.

Reduction in Belly Size

If your dog was pregnant, you have likely seen an increase in her belly size, obviously if her pregnancy had enough time to advance. Generally, your pregnant dog will start showing an increase in belly size and weight at around four weeks.

After this phase, if you find the belly shrinks, then it is probably because she has lost her babies. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will find the fetuses somewhere in your home or yard.

Consider that your dog may have removed all traces of the aborted fetuses by consuming them. This is natural instinct. Also, consider that pregnant dogs have the ability to absorb their fetuses.

This explains why you might not find any trace of deceased embryos, either mother dog ate all traces of the aborted fetuses or mother dog absorbed her puppies. 

“For approximately 12 days after fertilization, free-floating embryos are dependent on the fluid environment within the uterus for development. If this environment is inhospitable (due to inflammation, hormonal imbalances, etc.), embryos may not survive. Death of embryos during this period often goes unnoticed because the embryos are reabsorbed before pregnancy has been detected.” ~Jeanette L. Floss, David K. Hardin

Vaginal Discharge

This one is probably the most explicit sign of dog miscarriage. After enduring a miscarriage, the only evidence left behind may be vaginal discharge which may vary in consistency depending at what point she was at in her pregnancy. The discharge may therefore appear as a bloody, mucous-like vaginal discharge or a mucous sac with a lot of blood. The discharge may be barely noticeable in a dog who is fastidiously clean and licks it off. Generally, the discharge may appear for a day or two, therefore a discharge of longer duration may be suggestive of another health problem such as infection. If your dog has a foul-smelling discharge accompanied by fever, lethargy this may be a sign of a serious and potentially life threatening infection of the uterus (pyometra). This urges you to take your dog to a vet immediately.

” I would expect the discharge to be present for only a day or so. If the bleeding/ discharge continues for longer than this, then I would be very suspicious that something else may be going on. One of the most common reasons for vaginal discharge / bleeding at a time like this out from a heat cycle is actually an infection in the uterus called a pyometra.” Dr. Bruce

Did you know? It is possible for a pregnant dog to abort on or more puppies and then go on to deliver the remaining healthy full term puppies later on. However, this doesn’t happen very often.

Changes in Behavior

The miscarriage may have an impact on mother dog’s behavior. If she appears restless or depressed, this may be a sign that she had a miscarriage. Some breeders have found that letting mother dog undergo a second pregnancy may help perk her up. Consult with your vet to determine if this is a feasible option. However, it’s important to consider that any change in behavior may also be indicative of a health problem. So before assuming your dog is sad because she lost her litter, it’s best to have evaluated by a vet to rule out any other possible medical conditions.

When in Doubt

If you are unsure whether your dog has aborted her litter or not, your vet can always help. If you found an abnormal discharge from your dog, collect it and show it to your vet. Bring your dog along of course. There may be chances that your vet can help you determine whether your dog aborted or not by doing an abdominal ultrasound. If your dog indeed aborted, it’s a good idea to try to figure out why. If you haven’t before, you may find it useful to test your dog for brucellosis. 

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