There’s nothing quite like the joy of bringing a new life into the world. And for dog owners, that joy can come twice over if their furry friend happens to be pregnant.
But while pregnancy is a natural and beautiful process, it’s also one that comes with a whole host of changes – both physical and emotional – for both the dog and her owner.
So, if you’re thinking of expanding your canine family, here’s everything you need to know about pregnancy in dogs…
How Long is a Dog Pregnant?
Pregnancy in dogs usually lasts for about 63 days, although it can be shorter or longer depending on the breed of dog.
Smaller breeds tend to have shorter pregnancies, while larger breeds may carry their puppies for up to 70 days.
Some signs that your dog is pregnant include nesting behavior, increased appetite, weight gain, and enlarged nipples.
If you think your dog may be pregnant, it’s important to see a veterinarian for confirmation and to start planning for her upcoming litter.
Stages of pregnancy in dogs
There are generally three stages of pregnancy in dogs: the pre-pregnancy stage, gestation, and post-birth.
The pre-pregnancy stage is when the dog is preparing for mating.
This can last anywhere from two to four weeks. During this time, the dog’s body will start to produce more eggs and she will begin to go into heat.
Gestation is the actual pregnancy period, which lasts approximately 58-65 days.
During this time, the fertilized eggs will implant themselves in the dog’s uterus and begin to grow.
The developing puppies will receive nourishment from their mother through the placenta.
Finally, post-birth encompasses the final few weeks of a dog’s pregnancy. This is when the puppies will start to wean off of their mother’s milk and begin eating solid food.
By the end of this stage, the puppies should be fully independent.
What are the first signs of pregnancy in a dog?
If you’re wondering if your dog is pregnant, there are a few early signs to look for.
1. Increased appetite: Just like with humans, pregnancy can cause dogs to have sudden and drastic changes in their appetite. If your pup is suddenly begging for food all the time, it might be a sign that they’re expecting.
2. Nesting: Cute as it may be, if your dog starts trying to make a nest out of their bedding or your clothes, it could be a sign that they’re pregnant. This instinctive behavior is usually triggered when their hormones start to change in preparation for labor.
3. Weight gain: Of course, increased appetite can lead to weight gain, but there’s also another reason why pregnant dogs might start putting on the pounds. As their puppies grow, they’ll start to take up more space in the womb, which can lead to a noticeable weight gain in the mother.
4. Swollen nipples: Dogs’ nipples will usually start to swell and darken in color around the fourth or fifth week of pregnancy. This is another sign that their hormones are changing in preparation for labor.
5. Fatigue: Just like human mothers-to-be, pregnant dogs can often feel very tired and sluggish. This is due to the increased demand for their bodies as their puppies grow.
6. Mood swings: Yes, dogs can get moody too! Pregnant dogs might start to seem more irritable or even aggressive as their hormones fluctuate.
7. Heat cycle stops: One of the most reliable signs of pregnancy in dogs is when their heat cycle comes to an end. If your dog has been spayed, then this won’t be a concern, but if not, you can expect their heat cycle to stop around the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy.
How can I help my dog in labor?
Here are a few things you can do to help make the birthing process go smoothly for both you and your furry friend.
First, create a comfortable space for your dog to labor in. This could be a crate or some other small, enclosed area where she feels safe and secure. Line the area with blankets or towels to help her stay warm and comfortable.
Next, have everything you need on hand so you can assist if necessary. This includes clean towels, gloves, scissors, and a bulb syringe (to suction fluid from the puppies’ mouths and noses).
During labor, keep an eye on your dog and be prepared to step in if necessary. If she seems to be in distress, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Once the puppies are born, help your dog clean them off and tie the umbilical cords (using scissors and clean towels). If you’re unsure how to do this, ask your vet or a professional breeder for assistance.
Finally, provide your dog with plenty of food and water after she’s given birth. She’ll need extra energy to care for her new puppies, so make sure she has access to a high-quality diet.
Pregnancy in dogs is a beautiful, but often daunting, experience.
By understanding the different stages of pregnancy and knowing what to expect, you can help make the process go smoothly for both you and your furry friend.
Congratulations on becoming a dog parent!
As new dog parents, there are certain mistakes to avoid that can ensure a happy and healthy life for you and your dog.