If your dog is pregnant, you may have many questions and concerns about her health and well-being. Dog pregnancy is a special time that requires extra attention and care from you.
In this article, you will learn how long dogs are pregnant, how to recognize the signs of dog pregnancy, how to care for a pregnant dog and her puppies, and what to do during dog labor and delivery.
By following these tips, you can help your dog have a smooth and safe pregnancy and delivery.
Table of Contents
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
According to many studies based on many breeds, sizes, and health of the dog, dogs are pregnant for about 55 to 68 days, or around two months, with an average of 63 days. Some dogs may start whelping on the 70th day of pregnancy. The gestation period in dogs is shorter than the gestation period in humans, which is about nine months.
Dog pregnancy is divided into four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus.
- Proestrus is when the female dog attracts male dogs but rejects mating.
- Estrus is when the female dog is receptive to mating and ovulation occurs.
- Diestrus is when the female dog stops mating and pregnancy or false pregnancy occurs.
- Anestrus is the resting period between cycles.
The best way to tell if a dog is pregnant is to visit a veterinarian and perform some tests, such as hormone tests, palpation, ultrasound, or x-ray. These tests can confirm the pregnancy and estimate the number of puppies and the due date
What Are the Signs of Dog Pregnancy?
The signs of dog pregnancy can be subtle in the early stages but become more obvious as the pregnancy progresses. There are several signs that can indicate if a dog is pregnant. Some of the most common ones are:
- Change in appetite: A pregnant dog will typically have an increased appetite, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Some dogs may even experience episodes of morning sickness, similar to humansh.
- Enlarged or discolored nipples: One of the earliest signs that your dog is pregnant is if she “pinks up.” A pregnant dog’s nipples will be rosier in color (more so than usual) and grow in size, so they’re more prominent.
- Weight gain and enlarged abdomen: As the puppies grow, the mother dog will gain weight. This weight gain will be most noticeable in the abdomen. A pregnant dog will gain weight and her belly will get bigger as the puppies grow. You may be able to feel the puppies moving inside her belly in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
- Enlarged nipples. The nipples of a pregnant dog will become enlarged and darker in color.
- Behavioral changes: A pregnant dog may become more affectionate, clingy, or protective. She may also seek out a quiet and comfortable place to nest and prepare for the birth.
- Vaginal discharge: A clear or slightly bloody discharge may occur around one month into the pregnancy. This is normal and indicates that the cervix is preparing for labor. However, if the discharge is green, foul-smelling, or copious, it may indicate an infection or a complication and you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Nesting behavior. In the weeks leading up to the birth, the mother dog may start to exhibit nesting behavior. This may include searching for a safe place to give birth, such as a box or crate.
- Vomiting. Some pregnant dogs may experience vomiting, especially in the early stages of pregnancy.
- Decreased activity. A pregnant dog may become less active, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.
- Irritability. Some pregnant dogs may become irritable or restless.
These are some of the signs that can help you tell if your dog is pregnant. However, the best way to confirm a pregnancy is to visit your veterinarian and have them perform diagnostic tests, such as palpation, ultrasound, blood test, or X-ray.
These tests can also give you more information about the number and health of the puppies, as well as the expected due date. I hope this helps you understand more about dog pregnancy.
How to Take Care of a Pregnant Dog
Pregnant dogs need more calories and nutrients than normal dogs, so you should feed them premium adult food that is high in protein, fat, and minerals. You can also switch to puppy food during the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy, as it contains higher amounts of these nutrients.
You should increase the amount of food you give your dog by 20-25% during the second half of pregnancy, and by 50% during the last two weeks.
However, do not overfeed your dog or give her any supplements, unless directed by your veterinarian, as this can cause problems such as obesity or eclampsia.
Taking care of a pregnant dog is very important for the health and well-being of both the mother and the puppies. Here are some tips on how to care for a pregnant dog:
- Feed her a high-quality, nutrient-rich diet. A pregnant dog needs more food than she did before she was pregnant. She should be fed high-quality puppy food that is formulated for pregnant and nursing dogs. You may need to increase the amount of food you give her by 25-50%.
- Take her for regular walks. Exercise is important for pregnant dogs, but it should be limited to short, easy walks. Avoid strenuous exercise, as this could put stress on the mother dog and the puppies.
- Keep her away from other dogs. During the last few weeks of pregnancy, it is best to keep your dog away from other dogs. This will help to prevent the spread of diseases.
- Take her to the vet for regular checkups. Your vet can monitor the health of your dog and the puppies during pregnancy. They can also advise you on any special care that your dog may need.
- Create a safe and comfortable nesting area. In the weeks leading up to the birth, your dog will need a safe and comfortable place to give birth. This could be a box or crate that is lined with blankets.
- Be patient and understanding. A pregnant dog may be more irritable or restless than usual. Be patient with her and give her plenty of love and attention.
- Provide regular veterinary care. Your dog will need to see the vet a couple of times during her pregnancy to confirm it and monitor the progress. Your vet can perform tests such as palpation, ultrasound, blood test, or X-ray to determine the number and size of the puppies, as well as the expected due date. Your vet can also advise you on any vaccinations, deworming, or medications that your dog may need during pregnancy. You should contact your vet immediately if you notice any signs of illness, infection, or complication in your pregnant dog.
- Exercise your dog moderately. Your dog can still exercise during most of her pregnancy, but you should avoid any strenuous or stressful activities after four to six weeks into the pregnancy. Gentle walks are the best activity for pregnant dogs, as they help maintain their muscle tone and prevent constipation. You should also provide your dog with plenty of water and rest, and avoid exposing her to extreme temperatures or loud noises.
- Prepare a whelping area. A few weeks before the due date, you should set up a comfortable and clean place for your dog to give birth and nurse her puppies. This can be a whelping box, an exercise pen, or a simple bedding in a quiet corner of your house. The whelping area should be large enough for your dog to move around and lie down comfortably, but not too big that the puppies can wander off. It should also be lined with soft and absorbent materials that can be easily changed and washed. You should introduce your dog to the whelping area and let her get used to it before she goes into labor.
- Gather the necessary supplies. You will need some items to assist your dog during labor and delivery, as well as to care for the newborn puppies. Some of the supplies you may need are:
- A thermometer to check your dog’s temperature before and during labor
- A pair of scissors to cut the umbilical cords if needed
- A pair of hemostats or clamps to tie off the umbilical cords if needed
- Some dental floss or thread to tie off the umbilical cords if needed
- Some iodine solution to disinfect the umbilical cords after cutting or tying them off
- Some towels or paper towels to dry off the puppies and stimulate their breathing
- A heating pad or a hot water bottle to keep the puppies warm
- A scale to weigh the puppies and monitor their growth
- A notebook or a chart to record the puppies’ weights, genders, colors, markings, etc.
- A phone number of your vet or an emergency clinic in case of any problems or complications
|Foods that you should give to a pregnant dog||Foods that you should avoid giving to a pregnant dog|
|High-quality puppy food||Raw meat or fish|
|Cooked meat||Uncooked eggs|
|Brown rice||Grapes and raisins|
|Cottage cheese||Onions, garlic, chives|
|Salmon||Too much fat|
|Sweet potatoes||Too much calcium|
|Water||Fizzy drinks (aka soda, pop, soft drinks)|
Here are some foods that you should avoid giving to a pregnant dog:
- Raw meat or fish: This could contain harmful bacteria that could infect the puppies.
- Uncooked eggs: These can contain salmonella, which can be harmful to the mother dog and the puppies.
- Grapes and raisins: These can be toxic to dogs.
- Chocolate: This can also be toxic to dogs.
- Avocado: This can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.
- Macadamia nuts: These can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia in dogs.
- Onions, garlic, and chives: These vegetables can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage and anemia.
- Xylitol: This sweetener is found in many sugar-free foods and gums. It can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar in dogs, which can be fatal.
- Too much fat: A high-fat diet can put stress on the mother dog’s liver and kidneys. It can also lead to weight gain, which can be difficult for her to lose after the puppies are born.
- Too much calcium: Too much calcium can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients and can also lead to kidney problems in the puppies.
What to Expect During Dog Labor and Delivery
Dog labor and delivery is a natural process that usually does not require much human intervention. However, it is important to know what to expect and how to help your dog if needed. Here are some of the main points you should know about dog labor and delivery:
- Dog labor has three stages: the first stage involves uterine contractions and dilation of the cervix, the second stage involves the delivery of the puppies, and the third stage involves the expulsion of the placenta.
- The first sign that your dog is going into labor is a drop in her rectal temperature below 100°F, which usually occurs 24 hours before the onset of labor. You should monitor your dog’s temperature twice a day as her due date approaches.
- Other signs that your dog is going into labor soon include nesting behaviors, such as scratching at her bed or looking for a safe place to have her puppies, as well as panting, shaking, vomiting, or pacing. These signs may last for 6 to 12 hours until the cervix is fully dilated.
- The second stage of labor begins when your dog starts to push or strain. This is when the puppies are born. Each puppy is enclosed in a thin membrane called the amniotic sac, which the mother dog usually breaks with her teeth or claws. She will also lick the puppy to stimulate its breathing and clean it.
- The puppies are usually born 30 to 60 minutes apart, but the mother dog may take a break between puppies that can last up to two hours. You should not interfere with the delivery unless there is a problem or your veterinarian advises you to do so.
- The third stage of labor occurs when the mother dog expels the placenta or afterbirth for each puppy. She may eat the placenta, which is normal and provides her with nutrients and hormones. However, you should count the number of placentas and make sure they match the number of puppies, as a retained placenta can cause infection or bleeding.
- The entire labor and delivery process can take anywhere from 2 to 24 hours, depending on the number of puppies and the size of the mother dog. You should contact your veterinarian if any of the following complications occur:
- Your dog’s temperature does not drop below 100°F within 24 hours of the expected due date.
- Your dog shows signs of intense pain or distress during labor.
- Your dog has strong contractions for more than an hour without delivering a puppy.
- Your dog has a green, foul-smelling, or copious vaginal discharge before or during labor.
- Your dog has a fever, weakness, loss of appetite, or signs of infection after delivery.
- A puppy is stuck in the birth canal or appears dead or deformed.
Dog labor and delivery can take anywhere from 3 to 12 hours, with an average of 6 hours. There are three stages of dog labor:
- Stage 1: This is the early stage of labor, when the cervix is dilating and the contractions are getting stronger. Your dog may be restless, panting, and pacing. She may also vomit or lose her appetite. This stage can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours.
- Stage 2: This is the second stage of labor, when the puppies are born. Your dog will start to strain and push. The puppies will be born one at a time, with about 15 to 30 minutes between each puppy.
- Stage 3: This is the final stage of labor, when the placenta is delivered. Your dog may vomit or pass some blood after the placenta is delivered.
How to Take Care of a Newborn Puppy
Caring for a newly arrived puppy is a crucial and fulfilling responsibility, demanding substantial attention and nurturing.
Below are essential guidelines for tending to a puppy in its early stages:
- Provide Adequate Nurturing: Puppies in their earliest stages necessitate warmth, cleanliness, and consistent nourishment. They rely on their mother for milk, warmth, and stimulation. In cases where the mother is unavailable or unable to nurse, a specialized puppy formula and feeding equipment, like a bottle or tube, should be used. Additionally, a heat source, such as a heat mat or warm water bottle, is required, along with a secure and comfortable sleeping area, such as a whelping box or crate.
- Frequent Feeding: Newborn puppies require feeding every 2 to 3 hours, without regard for day or night. Refer to the formula packaging or consult your veterinarian for precise feeding quantities and schedules. Regularly monitor the puppies’ weight and growth using a scale and chart, and promptly contact your veterinarian if the puppies exhibit inadequate weight gain or weight loss.
- Assist with Bathroom Needs: Newborn puppies need assistance in the bathroom department. Normally, a mother dog stimulates their urination and defecation by licking their genital area. If you are caring for the puppies without their mother, you must perform this task using a damp cotton ball or soft cloth after each feeding. Ensure the puppies and their bedding remain clean and dry.
- Veterinary Care: Newborn puppies require consistent veterinary attention. Schedule a veterinary appointment within the first few days of birth for a health examination and deworming. Follow your veterinarian’s guidance regarding vaccinations, which usually commence at 6 to 8 weeks of age. If you observe any signs of illness or injury in the puppies, such as vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, breathing difficulties, or unusual behavior, promptly contact your veterinarian.
Here are some tips on how to take care of a newborn puppy:
- Keep them warm. Newborn puppies cannot regulate their own body temperature, so it is important to keep them warm. You can do this by providing them with a warm, dry place to sleep, such as a whelping box or a heating pad.
- Help them to eat. Newborn puppies cannot eat solid food, so they will need to be fed their mother’s milk. You can help them to eat by rubbing their mother’s belly to stimulate her milk production. You can also bottle-feed the puppies if necessary.
- Keep them clean. Newborn puppies are not able to clean themselves, so you will need to help them to stay clean. You can do this by gently wiping them with a warm, damp cloth.
- Monitor their health. It is important to monitor the health of the puppies closely. If you notice any signs of illness, such as diarrhea or vomiting, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Introduce them to solid food. At around 3-4 weeks old, you can start to introduce the puppies to solid food. You can do this by mixing puppy food with water or milk.
- Socialize them. It is important to socialize the puppies from a young age. This will help them to become well-adjusted dogs. You can do this by exposing them to different people, places, and things.
Dog pregnancy is a wonderful and exciting experience that can bring a lot of joy and happiness to you and your dog.
However, it also comes with many responsibilities and challenges that you need to be prepared for. In this article, you learned how long dogs are pregnant, how to recognize the signs of dog pregnancy, how to care for a pregnant dog and her puppies, and what to do during dog labor and delivery.
By following these tips, you can help your dog have a healthy and comfortable pregnancy and delivery, and welcome her adorable puppies into the world.