How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
Dogs are pregnant for about two months, at which point you’ll be welcoming the pitter-patter of puppy paws into your home. To help ensure introducing a new litter of puppies into the world is a joyful and unforgettable experience for everyone involved, it’s essential to be prepared and know the basics.
Whether you’re planning your dog’s pregnancy, or you think your dog is already expecting, it’s important to get educated about what to expect. Preparation and know-how will help make your dog’s pregnancy as simple and stress-free as possible for her—and you.
Here are some tips to get you started, like how to spot the signs of a pregnant dog, knowing dog pregnancy symptoms, how long a dog’s gestation period lasts and more.
When Can a Dog Get Pregnant?
Depending on the breed, female dogs can reach sexual maturity in as little as six months or as late as two years old. The dog’s size can often dictate how soon puberty occurs, with smaller dogs reaching sexual maturity sooner. A dog’s health can also impact when they go into heat. Over- or under-nourished dogs, parasites and various diseases can influence when a dog goes into heat.
Dogs can get pregnant when they come into season, which happens about once every six months. When female dogs come into season or go into heat, they are fertile for a period of two to four weeks
If your dog doesn’t feel ready to mate, they may be prone to getting into altercations with male dogs. Walking on a leash while in heat can help your dog avoid any scuffles and amorous advances by male dogs.
Since caring for a pregnant dog and their future puppies can be expensive and emotional for both you and your dog, make sure you’re ready for the challenge. If you’d like to avoid a litter of puppies in your future, consider speaking with your veterinarian about neutering your dog.
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
Dog pregnancy length can last between 61 and 65 days, but you may not notice any obvious physical changes in your dog until they are already well into their term. There’s no such thing as an at-home dog pregnancy test, so you’ll have to look for common dog pregnancy signs yourself.
How to Tell if a Dog is Pregnant
If your dog is pregnant, you may notice the following signs:
- A slight mucus discharge from the vulva may occur around one month after mating.
- Teats becoming more prominent in color and size around 30 days after mating, and you may also see them produce semi-clear fluid.
- Vomit in the early stages of pregnancy, similar to “morning sickness” in humans. If this continues, or you have any concerns, speak to your veterinarian.
- Weight gain at about day 35 of her pregnancy, which will gradually increase by up to 50 percent above normal.
- Swollen belly at around day 40, although first-time pregnant dogs and dogs carrying a small litter may not show as much.
- Quieter, more subdued behavior and possibly a drop in appetite. These signs may also indicate a problem, so speak to your veterinarian if you’re concerned.
- Appetite increases around the second half of pregnancy, so make sure the quantity and quality of food meets your dog’s needs.
Dog Pregnancy Diagnosis
Your veterinarian can confirm a pregnancy with a dog pregnancy test, which measures hormone levels, from around day 25 to 30, or by ultrasound between days 25 to 35. From around day 30, your veterinarian can carry out a physical examination to estimate how many puppies your dog is having.
This may not always be accurate, so be aware that you could have more or fewer puppies on the way than you initially expected.
What to Do When Your Dog Goes into Labor
Before going into labor, you may notice your dog looking for a quiet place to give birth. You can help by creating a “nest” area in a secluded, warm spot inside the home. Talk with your veterinarian about supplies you should have on hand during birth, such as towels, a heat lamp, bulb syringe and more.
Although most dogs should be able to handle pregnancy and labor on their own, you may need to stand by to offer any assistance and soothing words to put them at ease. Make sure you’re ready to jump in and assist should anything unexpected happen.
Your pregnant dog will likely give you plenty of hints to let you know when labor is beginning and the puppies are on their way. Signs of labor include:
- Heavy breathing or panting
- Loss of appetite
- Drop in body temperature
- Visible contractions (in some dogs)
In most cases, dogs deliver puppies smoothly, and you may not have to intervene. However, some signs such as your dog straining without producing puppies could suggest complications. If you notice either of these or have any other concerns, contact your veterinarian immediately.
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