Welcoming new life into the world is a rewarding experience, especially in the form of a litter of puppies. If you suspect that your dog is pregnant or if you’re considering breeding your dog, then note that this can be a stressful and time-intensive process for you.
If this is your dog's first time getting pregnant, you’ll need to learn how to take care of your pregnant dog. Before you do that, you should know how long you’ll be caring for a pregnant dog and what each stage requires.
Luckily, Dope Dog is committed to making all dogs feel comfortable and happy. Here’s our guide to the timeline of dog pregnancy.
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How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
If your dog is pregnant or you are planning to breed, it is essential to know how long the pregnancy will last. This will help you prepare for vet checkups, whelping, and everything in between.
Dog pregnancy lasts, on average, for 63 days or two months. A lot happens in a short period of time, from the fertilized egg embedding itself in the uterine horn to the first fetal heartbeat after four weeks. This process accelerates in month two, when the embryos rapidly develop into what you can recognize as puppies. Then, the whelping process begins, or the process in which your dog gives birth.
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How To Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant
If this were a planned pregnancy, the vet would be able to perform abdominal palpation around the 28-day mark. If your dog is expecting, the vet will be able to feel either grape-sized to golf ball-sized puppies. This depends on the breed of your dog.
To prevent health complications, make sure not to try this at home. Some vets prefer to use an ultrasound between 25 to 35 days to confirm pregnancy. This can also detect heartbeats to give you an accurate size of the litter.
X-rays taken between 45-55 days are still the most precise way to determine the number of puppies to expect. Keep in mind that before 45 days, their skeletal features will not show.
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What Are The Symptoms of Pregnancy
There are some key indicators that a dog is pregnant. Here are some signs and symptoms that you can look out for.
- Increased eating
- Unexplained weight gain
- Enlarged nipples
Towards the end of a dog’s gestation period, you will see a significant difference in the size of her nipples and breasts, and some milky fluids may start to leak. Her abdomen will have enlarged, and she will begin to walk at a belabored pace.
How to Care For Your Pregnant Dog and Puppies When They First Arrive
Once you have confirmed that your dog is pregnant, the next thing you need to do is make sure her pregnancy is as comfortable for her as possible. Here are some factors that you should consider:
As with any form of pregnancy, ensuring mothers and pups receive the best quality nutrition will increase the chances of a healthy outcome. The good news is, if your dog is already on a healthy diet, nothing needs to change for the first four weeks.
Experts recommend that as she starts to show signs of pregnancy and her weight begins to increase after five weeks, you should start to increase the quantity of food she receives, up to the point where she is receiving 35-55% more than usual.
It is also recommended to feed her small pieces of food because larger pieces can cause discomfort. For example, you can give her more chicken but cut them into smaller pieces. You can also give her our small, calming CBD dog treats, with wholesome ingredients like sweet potato.
Take her to the vet
All the knowledge in the world is not a replacement for experience. Make sure you complete the recommended checkups to ensure everything is running smoothly. This will allow an expert to check on the health of both the mom and the puppies. A prenatal checkup is a good idea as complications during birthing are not uncommon, but this will allow you to plan in case of an unforeseen emergency.
Here is a list of some basic things that you will need on hand:
- Clean and dry towels to clean the puppies
- Newspaper to keep the whelping box clean during delivery
- Non-Skid bath mats
- Paper towels for the inevitable mess
- A thermometer to check the dog's temp during whelping
- Dental floss(unwaxed) to tie off umbilical cords
- Surgical scissors for cutting the cords
- Iodine to sterilize the cut cords
- Hot water bottles or heating pads to keep the new puppies warm
- Paper towels to help with clean-up
- A baby scale
- Thermometer to check your dog’s temperature before whelping
- Last but not least, your veterinarian’s phone number
The puppies are finally here
Research has shown that new mothers and their litter thrive well with a whelping box. This offers a safe, clean, warm, and comfortable location. This box is ideally set up away from other pets to allow mom to relax and perform her duties.
It is an excellent idea to let your dog get comfortable with a whelping box before the big day. If she is a stranger to it, she may prefer to give birth someplace that she considers safer; that’s okay too. Just prep the floor as well as you can so that clean-up is minimal.
Talk to your vet about the best way to help your dog give birth. You can also ask experienced breeders for help and assistance. You should always be prepared to step in and support during the whelping process.
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Preparing for Whelping
As your pregnant dog approaches her “due dates,” there will be signs of labor. Some dogs will stop eating a few days before the whelping, while others might build a nest. As a pregnant dog goes into labor, she will begin to paint heavily. You can take her rectal temperature, and if there is a drop, it could be time for delivery. The abominable contractions will start slowly and then gain in frequency and strength. In some cases, first-time mothers will have a lot of moaning and straining during the delivery. You may see a fluid sac coming out when a puppy is in the birth canal. Within an hour, the first puppy should arrive. All puppies will be enclosed in a placental membrane. The mother will lick the membrane and tear it off the pup most of the time. If she doesn’t pull it, you may have to step in and remove it from the puppy.
Remember that puppies cannot survive without oxygen and that those membranes may be blocking their airways. You may also have to rub the puppy with a clean towel until you hear a little cry. Also, your dog will usually sever the umbilical cord as she cleans her pups. Once again, you may have to step in and snip the cord or tie it off from the stomach area. Always wipe down the abdomen area with a bit of iodine to prevent infections. The timing of the delivery can vary. Some dogs will deliver their pups right after each other, while others may deliver a few puppies, rest, and continue the process. If there is a two-hour break, you will have to call your veterinarian. Always keep track of the placentas. Any retained placentas could cause problems for your dog. Generally, you can expect the normal whelping process to take several hours, with one hour per puppy.
Taking Care of Mom
During this time, you always want to keep your dog comfortable. She will need access to plenty of water, and it is a good idea to take her outside to relieve herself. With a large little, many female dogs need to urinate frequently. Make sure to have plenty of clean towels on hand and never leave her unsupervised. It is not common for her to deliver a puppy outside when she is on a potty break. You will want to keep all puppies along the mother’s stomach area. They should nurse within a few hours of birth. If there are any problems with breathing or nursing in the puppies, make sure to call the veterinarian.
Possible Labor Complications
While the whelping process is a happy time, you do want to watch out for any complications, such as:
- Labor isn’t starting after 24 hours from her temperature drop
- Mother is exhibiting symptoms of extreme discomfort, including shivering, collapsing, and trembling
- Delivering dark green or bloody fluid before the first puppy
- Placentas are not delivered
- Puppies are not nursing
A final word of advice
A canine pregnancy usually lasts for sixty-two days, but like humans, dogs can go past their due dates as well. There is no need to panic if it does reach day 64; the best advice is to call the vet to ensure there are no complications.
We know that pregnancy can be a stressful time for both dogs and their owners. However, if you are well prepared, it certainly doesn't have to be.
With the proper guidance listed above along with relaxing CBD oil or any product from Dope Dog, and all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the process.
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Please note that this article does not intend to provide medical advice. Go to your pet’s veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and medical information.