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Green Discharge From a Pregnant Dog: Signs, Causes & Care (Vet Answer)

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By Dr. Karyn Kanowski

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Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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If you have decided to take the leap into breeding your dog, you may think that you’re prepared for anything. Then, just as things start to get interesting and it’s looking like puppies will soon be appearing, you see green discharge appearing from your dog’s vulva. Should you panic?

Surprisingly, the answer is no, but it is a sign that you should be seeing puppies very soon.

In the following article, we’re going to talk about what is and isn’t normal when it comes to whelping, what to expect, and when to call the vet.

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What Are the Signs of Whelping?

The canine gestation period is around 63 days, give or take a day or two. By around day 50, you should be getting everything in place in preparation for the impending arrivals, including a checkup with the vet, adding calories and calcium-rich food into your dog’s diet, preparing a suitable whelping box, and brushing up on what to expect when it comes time for the puppies to be born.

There are three stages of whelping. Although, in dogs, stages two and three tend to happen simultaneously with each pup.

  • Stage 1: Your dog seems unsettled and is nesting and panting. At this stage, you may see some discharge from the vagina that may be clear or reddish brown, and this is quite normal.
  • Stage 2: Active labor starts, with lots of panting, abdominal contractions, and licking at her vulva. This is when you may see green discharge.
  • Stage 3: Contractions start to deliver the placenta. Most of the time, the puppy will be delivered still within the placental sac, and either you or your dog will need to break it open.

Stage one can be as short as an hour or two, or last half a day. Once she has entered stage two, you should expect to see the first pup within 1–2 hours, with no more than 30–60 minutes between each pup. However, if it is a difficult and tiring delivery, some dogs will revert back to stage one for a period of time to rest.

pregnant golden retriever dog lying outdoor
Image Credit: PorChonlawit, Shutterstock

Why Is the Discharge Green?

Inside the placenta, the pups have been receiving nutrition from their mother through the umbilical cord, and when they are close to being born, their digestive system starts to function. The unborn pups will excrete waste products, which are green, due to the breakdown of red blood cells and bilirubin.

The fluid is usually a mixture of clear mucus, some blood, and this waste material which can be either a bright or dark green.

If the placenta ruptures during delivery, that green fluid will appear as a vaginal discharge. In the majority of cases, green discharge means that the puppy is in the vaginal canal and only seconds away. Although this is a perfectly normal thing to see, if a puppy is not born within 10–15 minutes of this sort of discharge appearing, it is time to call the vet.

Green discharge can either mean that there is a tear in the placental sac, or that the puppy has completely separated from the placenta. The second situation becomes an emergency if the pup is not delivered quickly, as it will no longer be able to receive oxygen via the umbilical cord.

Rhodesian ridgeback dog giving birth, newborn puppy in amniotic sac
Image Credit: olgagorovenko, Shutterstock

What Sort of Discharge Is Not Normal?

Although green-colored vaginal discharge is quite normal during whelping, there are a number of discharge types that can indicate that there is a problem with the delivery (dystocia) and that you must call your vet immediately.

  • Blood: Although a small amount of blood is to be expected during the delivery, if you are seeing quite a large amount, or if you are seeing pure blood rather than blood mixed with mucus, there could be bleeding inside the uterus. It may just be some bleeding from where the placenta has come away from the uterine wall, but it can be very dangerous for both mom and pups if it doesn’t stop.
  • Dark brown/black: Unfortunately, this can be a sign of dead or dying tissue, which could be a sign of a miscarriage.
  • Foul-smelling discharge or pus: This could indicate an infection and could also be an indication that one, or all, of the litter has not survived. If this type of discharge occurs 2–3 weeks after your dog has been mated or in season, it is likely a sign of pyometra, an infection in the uterus, which would mean that she is not pregnant, but needs urgent veterinary attention.
  • Green discharge that has not been followed shortly by the delivery of a puppy.
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What if There Is No Discharge?

While it is normal to see vaginal discharge before, during, and for several days after whelping, what if there is no discharge at all? To answer this question, we need to ask a few more:

Is She Definitely Pregnant?

Dogs can have false or phantom pregnancies after they have mated, or even if they haven’t! Their hormones tell their body to prepare for the arrival of puppies, so you may see her nipples getting swollen, and she may even start nesting. It is always a good idea to have a pregnancy scan at the vet’s office at around day 35 to check that your dog is pregnant.

Has She Started Whelping, or Is She Just Due?

Once your dog enters stage one of labor, you should expect to see some discharge, even if it is only a small amount.  Because fertilization of the egg can occur 3–5 days after mating, there can be quite a window of time for the actual delivery, so if she is not showing any other signs of whelping, we probably just need to wait a little longer.

Is She Licking a Lot “Down There”?

A lot of dogs are fastidious about keeping clean, so it may just be that she is cleaning up any discharge before you can spot it!

Is She Actively Straining and Having Contractions?

If she appears to have entered stage two and you are not seeing any signs of puppies or discharge, it is time to call your vet. If a pup is in the wrong position or too large to enter the vaginal canal, a cesarean may be needed to safely deliver the pups.

pregnant doberman
Image Credit: Akkalak Aiempradit, Shutterstock

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When it comes to whelping, there are almost as many colors of vaginal discharge as there are shades of gray. Some colors are normal, whereas others are definite causes for concern.

In the case of green discharge, this is quite a normal thing to see, but if your dog has not delivered a puppy within 10–15 minutes, you should seek veterinary advice. It might be useful to remember that, when it comes to whelping, green means go!

Whelping can be an exciting and stressful time, both for you and your dog. It is important to give your dog space to deliver her pups, but it is also important to keep an eye on things to make sure everything is proceeding as it should.

Speak to your vet to make sure you have a plan in place in case things go wrong, and make sure you have emergency contact numbers as well. If in doubt, it is better to phone your vet for advice, as waiting can put your dog and her pups at risk. Gathering as much information as you can from articles like this is a great way to ensure you are as prepared as you can possibly be and know what to expect.

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Featured Image Credit: Nina Buday, Shutterstock

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