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Miscarriage in dogs refers to the spontaneous reabsorption or expulsion of the lifeless litter of a female dog. It is a sudden and irreversible event for the puppies (who are born lifeless) and for the mother (who can suffer from health complications), although most female dogs make a full recovery.

Sometimes in the earlier stages of pregnancy, the mother absorbs placental and fetal tissue from the uterus, back into the body leaving no signs that the puppies ever existed – they simply vanish. This can make it extremely difficult for dog owners to detect and may leave you wondering whether the puppies were ever there in the first place. If the mother does not spontaneously absorb her puppies, she may expel them through the birth canal; she may also experience a lot of bleeding. Even then, she may lick and eat the evidence of the miscarriage, leaving you none the wiser.

If complications are detected in the pregnancy well in advance, it is possible to help the dog to reach the end of the pregnancy and to give birth to her puppies, always with veterinary help.

Causes of Miscarriage in Dogs

There are many different reasons a pregnant dog may miscarry one or more of her puppies. These include:

  • Infection, such as brucellosis, herpes, neospora or toxoplasmosis
  • Low progesterone levels
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Fetal defects
  • Endocrine disorders, such as Cushing’s disease
  • Genetic defects
  • Response to medication

Depending on the cause of the miscarriage, certain breeds of dogs may be more susceptible than others. Malnourished dogs are more likely to miscarry, as they lack the nutrients needed to carry a pregnancy to term.

Signs of a Miscarriage in Dogs

In most cases, miscarriages go unnoticed. Early miscarriages are only detected if the pregnancy has been confirmed via ultrasound and then later becomes undetected, or it shows no viable pregnancy. In certain cases, the sign of miscarriage is abnormal vaginal discharges (green, brown, pus colored, or black), which can be detected at any time during pregnancy.

Your dog may also show signs of discomfort because of abdominal pain or fever. In some cases, your pet may experience miscarriage and will have contractions and deliver stillborn puppies

Prevention and Treatment of Miscarriages in Dogs

If a dog develops a fever during pregnancy, this may indicate an infection. Infections are typically treated with intravenous (IV) fluids and injectable antibiotics. This may prevent miscarriage or, if miscarriage has already occurred, may prevent more severe medical complications with the mother.

If hormonal imbalances are suspected, a progesterone supplement may be recommended. This medication is given daily until shortly before the expected due date, in order to help maintain appropriate hormone levels to support pregnancy. This medication requires careful monitoring in order to prevent complications.


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