How do I know if my dog is pregnant?
In the first weeks, there are barely any signs, so it’s hard to tell if your dog is pregnant. Maybe the first signs of pregnancy could be weight gain or the discoloration and size of the nipples. During the 3rd or 4th week morning sickness affects some pregnant dogs as well, but only for a few days. Some dogs eat less than usual, seem tired, or throw up a little.
How long dog pregnancy take?
It depends on surprisingly many circumstances, for how long a dog is pregnant and several factors can determine it, but the average amount of time is 63 days. Our dog will be pregnant anywhere from 58 to 68 days.
Dog breeding is a purposeful bringing together of a stud and a bitch during the fertile portion of her heat cycle so the animals can mate and produce litter. If you think about dog breeding, you should do thorough research on it. Any breeding should be given ample consideration before deciding to proceed. As breeding relies on the science of genetics there are many circumstances, and factors, which should be studied understood, and considered. For example, the notion of the heat cycle, which is the active period of a female's reproductive cycle, characterized by a bloody discharge and active willingness to mate. In this period the female's body is preparing for breeding and the possibility of producing litter, the release of the eggs for fertilization. Understanding a female's heat cycle is very important and helps you to prepare for breeding or prevent an unwanted litter. Proper nutrition is indispensable for all pregnant dogs, for providing the dam her best ability to deliver her puppies for a successful pregnancy and birth-giving. But in the case of breeding optimal nutrition of the dam has to be taken care of with outstanding attention, because it can influence and determine several factors. It can among others even facilitate the optimization of the number of puppies per litter as well.
Week after week
First day: The mating
Make a note of the dates that you witness the dog mating. It’s really important because this is the only information you need to use our dog pregnancy calculator. You should discontinue any medications until the moment of giving birth and the breastfeeding period at this point without the veterinarian’s approval. After the day of mating, it takes approximately 48 to 72 hours for fertilization to take place in the oviducts.
It’s time to see the first physical changes and some unambiguous signs of pregnancy. In general, the nipples of the pregnant dog are getting darker and grow larger. Also, if our dog is pregnant the fur will appear thinner and thinner around the nipples. Of course, these changes will stay after the moment of giving birth until the puppies are suckling. These changes determine pregnant dogs of every breed, and size in this period Congratulation the blastocysts have just graduated to embryo status. In the third week of gestation, several pregnant dogs suffer morning sickness but only for a few days. The hard-working activities, such as running for a long period of time, jumping, or sprinting, should be cut back.
We have got to the halfway milestone, we are now about another month away from the due date, one more month to go! Around this time a veterinarian can give an estimate of how many puppies will be born. These pups are approximately the size of golf balls. Due to the reduced appetite of the pregnant dog, it could be recommended to feed our dog with several small portions of food during the day if possible, not always the same kind of dog food but for something else beyond that as well e.g.: leftovers of baked or cooked meat or some bread.
On the 6 th week, when we are about 2-3 weeks apart from the due date you are able to feel the pups moving around yet. The dam may lose her appetite entirely. We must do everything we can to feed her even a small portion of something extra to the meal may help, for example, yogurt, cottage cheese, cooked meats, or anything she likes beyond the dog food. Even if there are dog foods existing specifically for pregnant dogs, diversity is important for proper nutrition and in this period of the pregnancy, when the dam’s appetite is unpredictable, they may be more likely to eat something unusual.
Food, food, food. The optimal nutrition of pregnant dogs is increasingly important from the moment of mating to the minutes of giving birth and during the breastfeeding period as well. But in the last weeks of the gestation period and the first weeks of nursing, when the due date is just at the corner pregnant dogs may eat up to three-four times what they would normally eat. Always keep some dog food in their bowl just in case.
During the last week before the due date, the pregnant dogs need more and more time in their den area or nesting site. Try to disturb the dam as little as you can, she needs her rest. Bring her water and food and make sure that the area around her is clean. If you gently squeeze the nipples, they will produce milky fluid. This is the most important nutrient the puppies get. The dog’s temperature could be a good sign of the beginning of the calving. The average temperature of a dog is about 38,5-39,0°C. This will drop to 37°C 12-24 hours prior to whelping. So it’s time to begin monitoring the dog’s temperature twice a day.
See your vet frequently
If you think your dog is pregnant, take it to the vet immediately, and they will be able to answer all the questions, which you may have in mind e.g., about what food should you give her and what changes can be expected. It is highly recommended to take the possibly pregnant dog to a prenatal check-up 2 or 3 weeks after she has mated.
Your vet may give the dog a blood test, to check on the hormone changes during the gestation period, especially relaxin hormones, which increase the most. During your visit, your vet can use ultrasound as well, so from the third week, you can see the growing puppies inside the womb. Just as in the case of humans it uses sound waves to create an image of the womb and is totally safe for the pregnant dog.
Between the 28th and 35th days of pregnancy when the puppies are the size of a walnut or a gulf ball vets can feel them in the womb, with their hands, and confirm their presence. The procedure has to be done very carefully because if they touch the womb of the pregnant dog too roughly the puppies can get harmed or miscarriage can be caused. They will probably be spaced out evenly along with the uterus, which is shaped kind of like the letter V. Each half, called a horn, will have embryos in it.
Preparation for the labor
The dam will look for warm, safe places to deliver their puppies. If you would like to create the most comfortable atmosphere possible for your dog to give birth in, you should start it with the set-up of a whelping box. It is a safe, warm, comfortable, easily cleanable location for your dog to have her puppies. To give mum privacy, it should ideally be relatively far from other dogs. Once it’s done, you should introduce it to the dam, so that she can get accustomed to it.
If you would like to be present during the breeding, you will need to be prepared to step in when necessary during the whelping process. Always consult your veterinarian and do careful research if you decide to do so.
Necessary whelping supplies, you should have by hand during labor:
- Something to cover the whelping box for easy cleaning afterward e.g.: newspapers
- Clean towels, a bottle of warm water to clean up, and keep warm puppies
- Clean scissors to cut the umbilical cords and Unwaxed dental floss to tie them off
- Iodine for the puppies ‘and the mother’s stomach after the cord is cut to sterilize it.
Dogs don’t require help with giving birth, your task is to create the most comfortable environment for the pregnant dog and intervene only if necessary. Labour normally lasts 3-12 hours, and we can divide it into three stages.
One of the first signs of impending labor is a drop in mum’s body temperature from 38.5°C to 37°C – labor usually begins around 12-24 hours after that.
Stage one: In this is the period, you may be able to sense anything from the process besides you may see the mum shivering or panting. During this period the cervix and uterus prepare for delivery with smaller contractions eg.: the swelling of the vulva begins.
Stage two: This is the part when the pups came out. There are some signs referring to that the labor will begin soon. Firstly about 2-4 hours before it starts the dam may have discharge that may suggest that a placenta has separated. When she gets ready to deliver her puppies her temperature will get back to normal and when the puppies are 20-30 minutes away you will see intense contractions, followed by a clear fluid from your dog’s vulva.
Usually, the pups born approximately 15-30 minutes apart, but it is also perfectly normal if the dam has an hour's rest between them. If she rests for more than two hours, you shall call your vet because there might be a complication. You may need to help the mum a little to deliver puppies that are tail-first, but it is also perfectly normal so don’t worry, be very careful and gentle. Then the dam will try to bite through the puppy’s sacs and umbilical cords and clean them herself. If you notice she is chewing the cords too close, to the puppy, or just takes too long to do so stop her and do it yourself.
Stage three: A placentas should pass after each puppy so, try to check and count how many placentas have been passed and make sure none has remained inside, if you think this happened contact your vet.
Assistant during labor:
All puppies born enclosed in their placental membrane, in which they can only survive for a few minutes before their supply of oxygen runs out. In most cases, the mother removes it somehow instinctively, sometimes eating it, but if she doesn’t it is your task to do.
The dam should normally also sever the umbilical cord herself as she cleans her pups, but if she doesn’t it's up to you. Snip the cord and tie it off (about 1-2 inches from the puppy) with some unwaxed dental floss and then clean the puppies’ stomach with iodine to prevent infection.
Dog pregnancy calculator - FAQ
Q: What are the symptoms and signs of dog pregnancy?
A: There are multiple symptoms a female dog could have at the beginning of the pregnancy. Decreased level of activity, changes in appetite, unusual behavior, enlarged nipples, weight gain, and nesting behavior can be observed on a pregnant bitch.
Q: What is nesting in dog pregnancy?
A: Nesting is a type of behavior that can occur in the first stage of labor. Nesting is the primary material instinct of the pregnant bitch. The pregnant dog usually chooses a secluded spot with adequate warmth and shelter and then camouflages the den with grass, branches, and sticks.
Q: What is phantom dog pregnancy?
A: The phenomenon is also called false or pseudopregnancy. It is most commonly seen in female dogs. Hormonal changes after a season, or heat convince her body that she is pregnant. Thus, the specimen starts acting like it.
Q: When does dog pregnancy start to show?
A: Usually, the fetus begins to take shape by the 22nd day and around the end of the third week, a veterinarian should be able to detect the heartbeats with an ultrasound.
Q: When can a veterinarian confirm dog pregnancy?
A: Three weeks after mating.
Q: Are dog pregnancy scans are accurate?
A: Yes, they are mostly accurate, however, the number of the puppies can often be misleading, for the reason that the dog’s uterus is very small, compared to the number of puppies that could be there.
Q: Are there dog pregnancy tests, and are they effective?
A: A human pregnancy test cannot work on dogs. However, the veterinarian can confirm an early pregnancy with a blood test because hormone levels are changing from the beginning of the pregnancy. Also, from the third week, the vet is able to do an ultrasound, which reveals the number, the heartbeat, and the growth of the puppies.
Q: How can dog pregnancy be terminated?
A: Dogs can also have natural miscarriages and spontaneous abortions. The most common symptom is abnormal vaginal bleeding, and in some cases, there is even an expelled fetus to be found. Dog pregnancy can also be terminated by the veterinarian. In that case, after the procedure, the dog also can experience vaginal bleeding. For pregnancy termination, the most common medical options include injectable estrogens following the population to be effective. Another possibility or oral estrogen, which is the least recommended because it can cause pyometra in dogs. The third solution is prostaglandin F2 alpha, which is a natural hormone that has shown to induce safe abortion for pets. The last option is dexamethasone, which induced abortion, but this procedure has the most severe symptoms.
Q: Can dogs sense human pregnancy?
A: Yes, they can sense human pregnancy. All dogs differ, so their reactions to human pregnancy might differ too. Yet, it is likely that the owner will experience a change in the behavior. Dogs tend to be more protective of their owners during pregnancy.
Q: How long is dog pregnancy?
A: On average dog pregnancy usually lasts for 58 to 68 days.
Q: How long after mating can you tell that a dog is pregnant?
A: Usually three weeks after the mating, the veterinarian can do an ultrasound, with the intention of determining the pregnancy. This ultrasound can reveal fetal heartbeats, moreover, the veterinarian can estimate the number of puppies that the dog is carrying.
Q: How to prevent a dog from being pregnant?
A: Male dogs can easily be castrated, and female specimens can also be spayed by a standard veterinarian procedure. The AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) suggests that dogs should undergo the neutering procedure between 4 and 6 months.
Q: Will the pregnancy affect the dog’s overall health after giving birth?
A: Yes, even if both the mating, the pregnancy, and the birth processes go smoothly without any complication. Pregnancy is hard on the female dog’s body. Also, dogs who are not spayed are more likely to suffer from health-related problems around the genitals, and inside the abdomen.
Q: Does pregnancy have an effect on dogs?
A: Yes, dogs also experience their own form of discomfort, occasionally a morning sickness, which can make them have less appetite. Although, for the reason that all dogs differ from each other, pregnancy might have a totally different effect on others, such as increased appetite or extreme behavioral changes.
Q: How many puppies will there be in one litter?
A: In an average litter there are 5 to 7 puppies, however, this number may vary from breed to breed. The size of the dog also contributes to the number of puppies. Smaller-sized breeds tend to have 2 to 5 puppies at max in a litter. Whereas larger breeds could have up to 15 puppies in one litter.
Q: What should I feed my dog with while she is pregnant?
A: First of all, the owner of the pregnant dog should always consult a veterinarian, and act accordingly. However, it is advisable to give the pregnant dog food that is rich in protein, fat, and also contains a high amount of calcium and phosphorus for the proper bone formation in the puppies and enough milk for nursing.
Q: What should I do when my dog is in labor?
A: First of all, you should consult with your veterinarian on what to do in such cases. However, when a dog goes into labor, the best thing to do is to keep a little distance and observe her. Typically, dogs do not need much help when giving birth, unless there is a complication. Yet, you should provide your dog with a whelping box, a heating pad and blankets for the puppies, and many clean towels to clean up the puppies.
Q: How long a dog is in labor?
A: The length of the labor usually lasts many hours, depending on the breed. Dogs with slim skulls, like the Dobermans and Collies, usually deliver their puppies faster. While breeds with a wider skull usually are in labor for a longer period of time.
Q: What are the stages of labor for a dog?
A: There are three stages during dog labor and delivery. During the first stage, the female dogs are restless, panting, pacing, or showing a nesting type of behavior. In the second stage, they deliver the puppies. Then, during the third stage, the fetal membranes and the placenta are coming out.
Q: Is labor for dogs the same as for humans?
A: Yes, dogs can also experience pain during labor hours, but humans tend to need much more help and medical surveillance during delivery.
Q: What if my dog does not want to take care of her puppies after giving birth?
A: Female dogs usually have a natural mothering instinct and exactly know how to take care of the puppies, when they are born. Nevertheless, sometimes a dog just does not want to take care of or nurse her puppies. If your dog does not want to, you should take care of the newborn puppies, by feeding them, keeping them warm, and have them checked out by the vet.
Q: What are the symptoms of lack of maternal behavior?
A: The female dog does not want to clean the newborn puppies, she often abandons them, she does not want to feed them. In extreme cases, the female dogs can become aggressive towards her puppies, in such cases, she might attacks or even kill her puppies.
Q: What are the causes of lack of maternal behavior?
A: The problem with or the complete lack of maternal behavior can be caused by multiple things, including stress or fear, illness of the mother, cesarean section, or simply the fact that this is her first litter of puppies.