Welcoming a litter of adorable American Cocker Spaniel puppies into the world can be an exciting experience for any pet parent. However, this journey can also be riddled with uncertainties and anxiety for those who are unaware of what to expect or what is considered typical. Determining when to call a veterinary professional can be a difficult decision for many people. Understanding the signs of normal delivery and abnormal behaviors can help and guide you during this process. In this article, we will detail what to expect during the whelping process of American Cocker Spaniels, including signs of normal and abnormal deliveries, and when to contact a veterinarian for help.

Signs of Normal Delivery

Signs Of Normal Delivery
As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to know when your American Cocker Spaniel is in labor and what signs to expect during a normal delivery. Understanding these signs can help you determine if any abnormalities are occurring or if veterinary assistance is necessary. Below we will explore the signs of a normal delivery, including the different stages of labor and what to expect during the delivery of the puppies. If you have not already done so, make sure to prepare a comfortable and safe whelping area for your dog, as well as a whelping kit with necessary essentials. For more information on these topics, follow the links to our related articles that discuss comfortable whelping areas and whelping kit essentials.

Early Stage of Labor

The early stage of labor is an exciting time for dog owners, as it signals the beginning of the whelping process. During this time, your American Cocker Spaniel may exhibit several signs that indicate her body is preparing for the delivery of her puppies. It’s essential to note that while early labor can last for several hours or days, it’s entirely normal and shouldn’t cause any concern.

1. Nesting Behavior: During the early stage of labor, your dog may begin to exhibit nesting behaviors. This includes seeking out a quiet and comfortable space to rest and bring her puppies into the world. As a responsible owner, it’s important to ensure that you’ve provided a comfortable whelping area where she can rest and give birth comfortably.

2. Loss of Appetite: As your American Cocker Spaniel’s body prepares for the delivery of her puppies, she may exhibit a loss of appetite. This is entirely normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, it’s important to keep a close eye on her and ensure that she drinks plenty of water to stay hydrated.

3. Increased Restlessness: As the early stage of labor progresses, your dog may become restless and exhibit signs of discomfort. She may pace, pant, and whine as her body prepares for the delivery of her puppies. It’s important to monitor her behavior during this time and provide her with the necessary support and care to help her feel comfortable.

As mentioned above, the early stage of labor can last for several hours or even days. It’s important to be patient and provide your dog with the necessary care and attention she needs during this time. If you haven’t already, it’s also important to have a whelping kit ready in case you need to provide assistance during the whelping process. You can read more about whelping kit essentials in our comprehensive guide.

It’s also crucial to monitor your American Cocker Spaniel closely during the early stage of labor. If you notice any signs of discomfort or unusual behavior, it’s important to seek the assistance of a veterinarian to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both the mother and her puppies.

Understanding the early stage of labor is an important part of preparing for the delivery of your American Cocker Spaniel’s puppies. By being attentive and providing the necessary care and support, you can help your dog through this exciting process with ease.

Active Labor

During active labor, the Cocker Spaniel will experience strong and frequent contractions. In this stage, she may appear restless and may even refuse food. It is normal for her to pant and breathe heavily, and she may also whine or pace frequently. The average duration of active labor is around three to eight hours, depending on the size of the litter. Passage of a dark green/black discharge is common before the birth of the first puppy. Once the active labor begins, the puppies are usually born within 30 minutes to an hour.

Here are some things to keep in mind during this stage of delivery:

  • Do not interfere: Unless there is an emergency, it’s important to allow the mother to deliver the puppies at her own pace. Do not try to pull or twist the puppies out of the birth canal, as it can cause injury to both the mother and the pups.
  • Monitor the mother: Keep a close eye on the mother, and ensure that she is comfortable and not in distress. Make sure she has access to water, and offer a light, nutrient-rich diet if she is willing to eat it.
  • Be ready to provide assistance: Sometimes, puppies may get stuck in the birth canal, or the mother may be too weak to deliver them without help. If you notice anything unusual or if the mother is experiencing difficulties, be prepared to assist her immediately. Learn more about dog birth assistance to be prepared for any eventuality.
  • Keep track of the puppies: As each puppy is born, keep track of its weight, sex, and overall health. Also, monitor the placenta delivery for each puppy, as retention can cause serious health issues.

Remember, during active labor, it is crucial to stay calm and alert, and to provide a supportive, stress-free environment for the mother. Make sure that you have all the necessary equipment and supplies on hand, such as a whelping kit and a comfortable whelping area. By being prepared and attentive, you can help ensure a safe and successful delivery for your Cocker Spaniel.

Delivery of Puppies

During the delivery of puppies, it’s important to keep a close eye on your American Cocker Spaniel to ensure that she gives birth to healthy puppies without any complications. The delivery process can be broken down into three stages: dilation, delivery of puppies, and passing of the placenta.

The stage where the actual delivery of puppies takes place can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. The mother will usually start pushing, and you will see the amniotic sac burst. The puppy will then appear, and the mother will continue pushing until the pup is fully delivered. It’s important to note that the mother may take breaks in between puppies, and this is normal.

In order to ensure that the delivery goes smoothly, you should have a whelping kit on hand that includes sterile scissors, clean towels, and suction bulbs for clearing the airways of the puppies. You should also make sure to keep the environment quiet and stress-free.

It’s important to closely monitor the color and movement of each puppy as it is delivered. Newborn puppies should be breathing within seconds of delivery, and their cries should be strong and consistent. If you notice any puppies that are not breathing, you should immediately clear their airways and stimulate their breathing by rubbing them vigorously with a clean towel.

It’s recommended that you keep a record of the time and order that each puppy is delivered. This will help you keep track of the number of puppies and ensure that none are left behind in the birth canal.

The delivery of puppies is a critical part of the whelping process, and it’s important to keep a close eye on the mother and the puppies to ensure that everything goes smoothly. By being prepared and equipped with the right tools, you can help ensure that the delivery is successful and that each puppy is healthy and happy. For more information on the stages of dog labor and what to expect, see stages of dog labor expectations. To learn more about newborn Cocker Spaniel care, see newborn Cocker Spaniel care.

Signs of Abnormalities

Signs Of Abnormalities
As much as we want the whelping process to go smoothly for our American Cocker Spaniels, there may be instances of abnormalities that may arise. It is essential to always be vigilant and observant during the entire process. In this section, we will discuss the signs of abnormalities that may manifest in both the mother and the puppies during whelping. It is crucial to be aware of these abnormalities to address them promptly and prevent potential harm. If you want to learn more about common challenges during whelping, you can check out our article on common challenges during whelping.

Abnormalities with the Mother

During whelping, it is important to keep a close eye on the mother to ensure she is healthy and can care for her puppies. However, there are some abnormalities that can occur during the whelping process that can put your American Cocker Spaniel at risk. Here are some of the abnormalities with the mother that you should watch out for:

Prolonged LaborIf your dog has been in labor for more than 24 hours and has not yet given birth to a puppy, this is a sign of obstruction that requires immediate veterinary assistance.
Excessive BleedingSome bleeding after delivery is normal, but if your dog continues to bleed heavily or shows signs of shock such as pale gums, rapid heartbeat, or lethargy, you should call the vet immediately.
FeverIf your dog’s temperature rises above 39.5°C, this is a sign of infection and requires veterinary intervention to prevent a serious health risk to your dog and her puppies.
MastitisMastitis occurs when the mother’s mammary glands become inflamed and infected. It can be caused by blocked milk ducts or bacterial infections. This condition requires immediate veterinary care.
Negative Mother and Fetal InteractionIf the mother is showing signs of aggression towards her newborn puppies such as growling, biting, or neglecting them, this is a sign of a dangerous behavioral anomaly that requires professional attention.

If you notice any of these abnormalities or other unusual symptoms, it is imperative that you reach out to your veterinarian to ensure the safety of your beloved pet and her puppies. Prompt medical attention can help prevent serious consequences and ensure a healthier outcome.

Abnormalities with the Puppies

During the whelping process, it is important to pay close attention to the puppies as well as the mother. While most deliveries go smoothly, there are potential abnormalities that may arise with the puppies. Here are some abnormal signs to look out for:

AbnormalityDescriptionAction to Take
No Breathing or MovementIf a puppy does not show any signs of breathing or movement shortly after being born, it may be in distress.Try to stimulate the puppy by rubbing it with a warm towel or gently blowing air into its nose. If there is still no response, seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Weak or Fading PuppyIf a puppy appears weak or is struggling to nurse, it may be fading and in danger of not surviving.Try to encourage the puppy to nurse by gently helping it latch onto the teat. If it continues to struggle, seek veterinary assistance immediately.
BleedingIf a puppy is bleeding from its nose, mouth, or any other part of its body, it may have a serious injury.Apply pressure to the affected area and seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Abnormal Body Shape or AppearanceIf a puppy has an abnormal body shape or appearance, such as a cleft palate, it may have developmental abnormalities.Seek veterinary assistance to determine what the best course of action is for the puppy.

It’s important to note that even if a puppy appears healthy at birth, abnormalities can still arise later on. Make sure to closely monitor all the puppies in the litter for the first few weeks of their lives and seek veterinary assistance if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

When to Call the Vet

As a responsible American Cocker Spaniel owner, part of your job is to ensure that your furry friend gives birth to healthy puppies. While most deliveries proceed without complications, emergencies can still happen. That’s why it’s essential to know when to call a vet during whelping. But with so many warning signs, what are the early signs you should be looking out for before it’s too late? And when should you call your veterinarian immediately? Let’s explore this topic in more detail so that you can be prepared for any potential issues that may arise.

Early Warning Signs That You Should Not Ignore

As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to be aware of the early warning signs during whelping for American Cocker Spaniels. Recognizing these signs and knowing when to call the vet can make all the difference in ensuring the safety of both the mother and her puppies. Here are the early warning signs that you should not ignore:

Early Warning SignsDescription
Excessive StrainingIf the mother is straining for more than an hour without delivering a puppy, there may be an issue.
Green DischargeIf there is green discharge from the mother, then there could be a serious issue that requires medical attention.
Fever or Elevated TemperatureThe normal temperature for a dog is between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If the mother has a temperature above this range, she may need medical attention.
Excessive BleedingSome bleeding during whelping is normal, but excessive bleeding could indicate a serious problem.
Behavioral ChangesChanges in the mother’s behavior such as restlessness, lethargy or loss of appetite could be indicative of complications that require prompt veterinary attention.

If you notice any of these signs during the whelping process, it’s best to call the vet immediately. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health and safety of your American Cocker Spaniel and her puppies.

Signs That Require Immediate Veterinary Assistance

If you notice any of the following signs during whelping, you should immediately seek vet assistance. These signs indicate that there might be a serious complication with the mother or puppies, and time is of the essence.

Bloody discharge fails to stop: A bloody discharge may be common during the birthing process, but it should decrease and eventually stop as the puppies are born. If the discharge persists and doesn’t show any sign of stopping, it could be a sign of a serious problem, such as a retained placenta.

Continuous contractions without a puppy: It’s normal for the mother dog to take breaks between puppy deliveries. However, if she continues to experience contractions for over two hours without delivering a puppy, it could be a sign of trouble, such as a puppy being stuck in the birth canal.

Prolonged restlessness or discomfort: It’s common for the mother dog to be restless or uncomfortable during labor. However, if restlessness or discomfort persists for more than two hours after the delivery of a puppy, it could indicate a retained placenta or other complications.

Dark green discharge: The appearance of dark green discharge is a sign of fetal distress and a serious problem. If you notice this, call your vet immediately.

Failure to deliver a placenta: The mother dog needs to deliver a placenta shortly after the birth of each puppy. If she doesn’t, it could cause serious health problems or infection.

Abnormal discharge from the mother: Normal discharge from the mother should be odorless and light-colored. If you notice any abnormal discharge, such as pus or a foul odor, it could be a sign of infection.

Remember, during whelping, the health of the mother and puppies is of utmost importance. If you notice any of these signs or anything else that seems out of the ordinary, don’t delay in seeking immediate veterinary assistance.


In conclusion, it is important for American Cocker Spaniel breeders and owners to be aware of the signs of normal and abnormal deliveries during whelping. Knowing the signs of a normal delivery and being prepared with the necessary supplies and knowledge can make the process smoother for both the mother and the puppies.

However, it is also important to be aware of the warning signs of complications and to seek veterinary assistance when necessary. Delaying medical attention can result in serious consequences for both the mother and the puppies.

As an owner or breeder, it is your responsibility to prioritize the health and well-being of your dogs. Monitoring the whelping process closely and seeking veterinary assistance when necessary can ultimately lead to a successful whelping experience for all parties involved. Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health of your pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is whelping?

Whelping is the process of giving birth for dogs.

How long is a normal whelping process?

A normal whelping process can last between 6 to 12 hours.

How many puppies can an American Cocker Spaniel have during whelping?

An American Cocker Spaniel can have between 4 to 6 puppies on average.

How can I tell if my American Cocker Spaniel is in labor?

You can tell if your American Cocker Spaniel is in labor by noticing signs such as nesting behavior, panting, pacing, and licking the vulva area.

Is it normal for a dog to take breaks in between delivering puppies?

Yes, it is normal for a dog to take breaks in between delivering puppies. These breaks can last between 30 minutes to an hour.

What are some potential complications during whelping?

Potential complications during whelping include dystocia (difficult delivery), retained puppies, and postpartum hemorrhage.

When should I intervene during whelping?

You should intervene during whelping if your dog has been in active labor for more than an hour without delivering a puppy or if she appears to be in distress.

What should I do if one of the puppies isn’t breathing?

If one of the puppies isn’t breathing, you should gently stimulate them by rubbing them with a warm towel and clearing their airways. If this doesn’t work, you should seek veterinary assistance immediately.

What can I do to help my American Cocker Spaniel during whelping?

You can help your American Cocker Spaniel during whelping by providing a warm, quiet, and safe space for her to give birth, being present to monitor the process, and assisting with any puppies that need help with breathing or nursing.

Is it necessary to call the vet during whelping?

It is not always necessary to call the vet during whelping, but it is recommended to have their contact information on hand and to call them if you notice any signs of abnormalities or if you have any concerns.


Matthew Farthing

Matthew Farthing

Сontributing author at DogCareHacks, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant.

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