Whether you intentionally breed your dog, or she has unexpectedly become pregnant, there are lots of questions you might have. Intact (unspayed) female dogs usually go into heat every six months. During this time they go through different stages of their reproductive cycle. They can fall pregnant if they mate with a male dog.
What are the signs my dog is pregnant?
Some of the tell-tale signs include increased appetite and a general decrease in physical activity. Your dog might become more affectionate and you might see physical changes. This could include enlarged nipples or clear discharge from her vagina. At the later stages you will likely see noticeable weight gain, and changes in the size and shape of her abdomen.
If you suspect that your dog is pregnant, we can help you identify whether this is the case. There are various tests to identify pregnancy in dogs. These include hormonal checks, ultrasounds and palpitation tests. Hormone tests are only generally reliable at least 30 days after pregnancy has begun. Palpitation testing or ultrasound can be the earliest way to confirm a pregnancy.
How long will my dog be pregnant for?
A veterinary science study in 77 breeds of dog showed that the average pregnancy length was 62 days. There was a variation of 11 days; some of the pregnancies recorded were as low as 51 days and some as long as 73 days. You might wonder if different dog breeds have different lengths of pregnancy. The study showed some small differences, but a far bigger factor was the number of puppies. Dogs who were pregnant with larger litters tended to have slightly longer pregnancies than dogs of the same breed, who only had a few puppies.
If you have bred your dog with a stud male, you will have an accurate idea of when conception took place. However, without this certainty, you may actually only be able to identify a window of a few days. This means you may not be able to perfectly predict when the puppies will be born.
Does my dog need pregnancy check-ups?
As the number of puppies influences pregnancy length, a pre-birth scan is a useful way to find out what size of litter your dog is likely to have. This can help you plan ahead for the birth. At the late stages of pregnancy, we can help you to gauge how many puppies there are likely to be.
What will it be like when my dog gives birth?
During the last few days of pregnancy, you may notice changes in your dog’s body shape. This is because the puppies start to move into the birth canal. Her body temperature will drop, and she will become very restless. You may see her pacing and panting, which is a sure sign that birth is imminent.
Puppies will arrive one at a time, usually with 30-60 minute intervals. Your dog will then deliver the placenta. If there are longer gaps between puppies, or the birth takes more than 24 hours, you should seek immediate veterinary assistance. It may be a sign there is a serious problem.