11 Signs Of Dead Puppies in Womb Explained!

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As a devoted dog owner, the last thing you’d like to experience is a puppy or puppies dying inside the womb due to delivery complications.

If it happens, there are signs of dead puppies in womb that you should be aware of;

The most common sign is a discolored foul-smelling discharge from the vulva ranging in color from brown, green, black, or dark greenish.

That said, if you know it early enough, you can rush your dog to the vet for the best outcome and to avoid endangering the mother’s life.

In this article, we’ll take you through the key signs of dead puppies in womb and how to detect them.

11 Signs of Dead Puppies in Womb

Signs Of Dead Puppies in Womb

  1. Discolored Discharge from The Vulva
  2. Discharge from the vulva that is foul smelling:
  3. Abdominal pain:
  4. Lethargy or listlessness:
  5. Lack of appetite:
  6. Increased thirst due to toxin buildup in their body:
  7. Increased urination due to their excessive thirst:
  8. Vomiting:
  9. Fever, but not always:
  10. Increased panting, often due to discomfort:
  11. Weakness and even collapse:

What’s more;

1. Discharge coming from the vulva that can range in color from brown, black, green, or dark green:

One of the most concerning signs that a pregnant dog may have dead puppies in the womb is the presence of abnormal discharge from the vulva.

The discharge’s color, ranging from brown, black, green, or dark green, can be an indication of potential complications within the uterus.

It’s important for dog owners to closely observe any changes in the color and consistency of the discharge, as it can signal an underlying issue that requires immediate attention.

In some cases, this abnormal discharge may be a result of a miscarriage or fetal death, leading to the release of substances that cause the distinct coloring. However, it’s essential to remember that not all discharges during pregnancy indicate fetal death.

Some mild discharge can be normal as the body prepares for birth. Nonetheless, any significant changes or strong smells in the discharge warrant a visit to the veterinarian.

Timely intervention can help identify the cause of the issue and potentially save the lives of any surviving puppies while ensuring the health and safety of the mother.

2. Discharge from the vulva that is foul smelling:

Foul-smelling discharge from the vulva is a red flag that should never be ignored by dog owners. The presence of a strong and unpleasant odor is often a sign of infection or tissue decomposition, which typically occurs when a fetus dies inside the womb.

The foul smell results from bacterial overgrowth due to the decaying tissue, and it is markedly different from the usual vaginal discharge observed during a healthy pregnancy.

The foul odor is a clear indication that veterinary attention is urgently needed. An untreated infection in the mother’s reproductive tract can lead to severe complications such as sepsis, which poses serious risks to both the mother and any surviving fetuses.

Therefore, prompt action is crucial in such situations to prevent further complications and ensure the mother’s well-being and the potential survival of any viable puppies.

3. Abdominal pain:

Abdominal pain can be a distressing sign for pregnant dogs, and it may indicate the presence of dead puppies in the womb. The pain can vary in intensity and may cause the dog to exhibit signs of discomfort, restlessness, or even vocalizations of distress.

It’s important for pet owners to be attentive to their dog’s behavior and note any signs of discomfort, especially during late pregnancy.

Abdominal pain during pregnancy can be caused by several factors, such as uterine complications or the death of fetuses. In such cases, immediate veterinary assessment is essential to determine the underlying cause and appropriate course of action.

Addressing the issue promptly not only helps to alleviate the dog’s suffering but also ensures that any viable puppies receive proper care and attention.

4. Lethargy or listlessness:

Lethargy or listlessness in a pregnant dog can be a worrisome sign, potentially indicating that something is amiss with the pregnancy. When a dog is pregnant with dead puppies in the womb, she may become lethargic and display a lack of energy or interest in her surroundings.

Lethargy during pregnancy should never be ignored, as it could be a symptom of an underlying problem that requires veterinary evaluation. A veterinarian can perform a thorough examination, including ultrasound, to assess the pregnancy’s status and identify any potential complications.

Timely diagnosis and intervention can improve the chances of a healthy outcome for the mother and any surviving puppies.

5. Lack of appetite:

A pregnant dog that suddenly loses her appetite could be experiencing complications with the pregnancy, such as the death of one or more fetuses. A lack of appetite can be a distressing sign, as it may lead to malnutrition and weaken the mother’s ability to sustain a healthy pregnancy.

Pet owners should closely monitor their pregnant dog’s eating habits and seek veterinary attention if they notice a significant decrease in appetite.

The veterinarian can determine the cause of the appetite loss and provide appropriate care and nutritional support to ensure the mother’s well-being and the best chances for the remaining puppies.

6. Increased thirst due to toxin buildup in their body:

When a dog experiences complications in the uterus, such as dead puppies, it can lead to the release of toxins as the fetal tissues break down.

This release of toxins can affect the mother’s body, leading to increased thirst as her system attempts to flush out these harmful substances.

Excessive thirst can be a sign of distress and should prompt dog owners to seek veterinary care.

A veterinarian can assess the situation and determine the appropriate treatment to address the underlying issue, ensuring the mother’s health is safeguarded.

7. Increased urination due to their excessive thirst:

As a consequence of increased thirst, a pregnant dog may also exhibit increased urination. This is a physiological response as the body attempts to eliminate the excess fluids taken in due to the heightened thirst.

While increased urination may not directly indicate dead puppies in the womb, it is still a symptom of an underlying problem that requires attention.

A veterinarian can assess the dog’s overall health, evaluate the pregnancy, and address any potential complications.

8. Vomiting:

Vomiting during pregnancy can be a concerning sign, as it may indicate distress in the mother’s system or issues with the pregnancy, such as dead puppies.

While some degree of morning sickness can be common in pregnant dogs, persistent or severe vomiting should not be ignored.

Vomiting can lead to dehydration and further complications if left untreated. Therefore, it’s essential for pet owners to seek veterinary care promptly to determine the cause of the vomiting and provide appropriate treatment.

9. Fever, but not always:

A fever can be an indication of infection or inflammation, which may occur if a pregnant dog has dead puppies in the womb.

However, it’s important to note that a fever is not always present in such cases. Some dogs may not exhibit fever symptoms, even if complications exist.

If a dog is displaying other concerning signs, such as abnormal discharge, lethargy, or vomiting, veterinary evaluation is crucial to identify the underlying issue and determine the best course of action.

10. Increased panting, often due to discomfort:

Increased panting in a pregnant dog can be linked to discomfort, especially if there are complications with the pregnancy. The dog’s body may be experiencing stress or pain, leading to heightened respiratory rates.

Pet owners should monitor their dog’s behavior and consult a veterinarian if they observe excessive or persistent panting.

Addressing the discomfort and any potential complications can help improve the dog’s well-being and the chances of a successful pregnancy.

11. Weakness and even collapse:

In severe cases of dead puppies in the womb or other complications during pregnancy, a pregnant dog may experience weakness and may even collapse. This is a critical emergency situation that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Weakness and collapse can indicate a life-threatening condition for both the mother and any surviving puppies.

Quick action can make a significant difference in the outcome, so dog owners should contact their veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately if they observe these symptoms.

What Happens If Puppies Die in The Womb?

The outcome of such situations varies depending on the stage of the dog’s pregnancy, making it essential to understand the potential complications.

In early pregnancy, the dog’s body can often naturally absorb the fetuses if a miscarriage occurs. Although no noticeable symptoms may be present, the dog will no longer be pregnant.

However, when a dog experiences a miscarriage later in the pregnancy or encounters difficulty during labor (dystocia), the risk of severe complications rises significantly.

In such cases, the mother may not pass the puppies naturally, leading to the breakdown of fetal tissues inside the uterus.

This breakdown process can trigger an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, potentially leading to a life-threatening uterine infection called pyometra.

Treating pyometra typically involves a surgical procedure to remove the uterus, and immediate action is vital to prevent the infection from spreading to the bloodstream.

Also, some cases of dead puppies in the uterus may result in mummification, where a protective membrane forms around the fetuses, enclosing them within the uterus and causing them to harden.

While this process itself may not pose an immediate threat to the dog’s health, it can increase the risk of uterine infection. Having mummified puppies in the uterus is generally not ideal for the female dog’s well-being.

What Causes Premature Puppies?

1. Maternal Health Issues:

If the mother dog has health problems, it can increase the risk of premature birth. Conditions such as hormonal imbalances, infections, or chronic illnesses can interfere with the proper development of the fetuses or lead to early labor.

2. Infections:

Infections affecting the mother’s reproductive system, such as bacterial or viral infections, can trigger early labor as the body attempts to expel the fetuses to protect the mother from further harm.

3. Multiple Pregnancies:

Dogs carrying large litters are more prone to premature births. The mother’s uterus may become stretched and unable to sustain the pregnancy for the full term, leading to early labor.

4. Injury or Trauma:

Physical trauma or injury to the mother can disrupt the normal pregnancy process and lead to the premature delivery of the puppies.

5. Genetic Factors:

Some genetic factors can increase the likelihood of premature puppies. Certain breeds may have a higher predisposition to preterm labor.

6. Stress and Anxiety:

Extreme stress or anxiety in the mother can release hormones that induce premature labor. Stressful events or environmental changes may contribute to this.

7. Placental Issues:

Problems with the placenta, such as placental abruption or placental insufficiency, can affect the fetuses’ supply of nutrients and oxygen, leading to early delivery.

8. Maternal Age:

Advanced maternal age may be a factor in some cases, as older dogs may have a higher risk of pregnancy complications.

9. Underlying Health Conditions in the Puppies:

Sometimes, the puppies themselves may have health issues that lead to premature birth, such as developmental abnormalities.


In conclusion, recognizing the signs of dead puppies in the womb is vital for the well-being of the pregnant dog and any viable fetuses.

Pet owners should be vigilant in monitoring their dog’s health during pregnancy, seeking prompt veterinary attention if they notice any concerning symptoms.

Early diagnosis and intervention can make a significant difference in the outcome of the pregnancy and the overall health of the mother and her puppies.

Remember, attentive care and professional guidance are crucial to ensuring a safe and successful pregnancy journey.

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