How Do I Remove a Puppy's Umbilical Cord?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2018
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Although the mother dog will usually perform the task, cutting an umbilical cord on a puppy is sometimes necessary after birth. Before the puppies begin to arrive, you should have all necessary supplies on hand. You should then wait to see if the puppy's umbilical cord will need to be cut. If necessary, you should first remove the amniotic sac before tying off the cord with some sterilized, sturdy thread and cutting it with sharp, sterilized scissors.

You will first need to place some supplies within easy reach before the mother dog gives birth. Alcohol should be used to sterilize sharp scissors, for example, and you will also need heavy thread to tie a puppy's umbilical cord. Many experts suggest using unwaxed dental floss for this. Providine or iodine should also be used to sterilize the umbilical cord. You may also need cotton balls and clean towels.

Clean hands are important when dealing with newborn puppies. You should wash your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap before handling any newborn puppies. Surgical gloves should also be worn, if possible. It is not usually advised to disturb a mother dog after labor has begun. You should, however, stay close and watch to make sure the birth goes smoothly.


The amniotic sac must be removed within 30 seconds to a minute after a puppy is born. If this is not done, the puppy could suffocate and die. To remove the sac, you should tear it gently near the head. You should then wipe the puppy's face with a clean towel.

After the greenish colored placenta is delivered, the mother should sever the umbilical cord with her teeth. If she does not do this within a few minutes, you will need to help her. You will need to tie the cord, however, prior to cutting it.

Begin by tying a piece of dental floss around the puppy's umbilical cord. This first piece should be about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) away from the puppy's abdomen. The second piece of thread should be tied 0.25 inch (0.64 centimeters) away from the first piece, toward the placenta.

Using the sterilized scissors, you can then cut the umbilical cord between the two pieces of thread. The scissors that you use should be very sharp. A clean razor blade can also be used.

Providine or iodine should be applied to the cut end of a puppy's umbilical cord. Some experts recommend dipping this end into the providine. It can also be applied by dabbing it on with a cotton ball. The umbilical cord will then usually fall off within a few days to a week.


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Post 3

Yet another use for dental floss! My mother always tells me to make sure I pack it for when I'm traveling, since it can be used for so many things (like, string, a clothesline, a makeshift knife, etc.)

But this is a new one for the list. If I come across any newborn puppies who need assistance, I'll be ready.

Post 2

@MrsPramm - There are exceptions to this though, which is why people need to make sure they take their dog to the vet and get her examined before the big day. There are several breeds of dog which cannot give birth naturally, because of the way the dog is shaped (like English bull dogs, for example, as they are simply too large around the head and shoulders). They will have to be delivered by the vet, possibly by Cesarean section.

So, if your dog is purebred or a mongrel with some of that breed in them, or if you aren't sure of the father, you're going to have to err on the side of caution. In that case caring for the umbilical cord may be the least of your problems.

Post 1

You should be especially cautious with a first time mother, who might get confused and not know what to do.

But, it's important to try and let her figure it out, if it isn't putting the puppies in danger. It's kind of a disgusting process, given that the mother uses her teeth to get everything done, but she'll bond better with the pups if she's allowed to do her thing without interference. About the only thing you'll need to do is cleaning the umbilical cord and dabbing on the iodine to prevent infection.

You just need to be on hand in case things go wrong. Remember that they can go wrong very quickly and there will almost certainly be no time get a vet there.

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