Bringing new life into the world always seems very rewarding and exciting, especially for dog owners. When they decide to breed their dogs and have to prepare for the big event, there is a whole guide to what can be done in order to glide through the process smoothly. Just as in humans, going through a pregnancy is a stressful situation; dogs need emotional support dog as well to keep them relaxed. Hence you need to make sure that it’s a good time for them and for yourself because obviously, you cannot wait to see those adorable little puppies!
Dog Pregnancy the Gestation Period
In order to be prepared for the delivery, you need to know how long the pregnancy lasts. It is a much shorter time than that in humans and may pass in a blink so you will not have time to sit around but be alert from the very beginning. Pregnancy in dogs lasts for approximately two months or 63 days. This time frame will help you plan out frequent visits to the vet who by the end of the first month is able to detect the heartbeat of the fetus. During the second month, the fetal development progresses as the embryo takes the form of little puppies. As the second month nears the end and the third month begins, the puppies are ready to be brought into this world which means you need to be well prepared for the delivery.
Is she really pregnant?
Unlike humans, dogs don’t have the facility to take a pregnancy test when they feel like it so you have to rely on your own methods to determine if your dog is expected to give birth. The most authentic and credible way to confirm if your dog is pregnant is through diagnostic testing. For this, to work, you need to know of the days when your dog was bred.
–Abdominal palpation: after 28 days the vet can feel your dogs’ abdomen to search for some golf ball-like structure. These are little embryo sacs that are formed at this stage and should not be done without professional help.
–Ultrasound: at 35 to 40 days, an ultrasound can be done to check for fetal heartbeats that identify how many puppies there are.
–Relaxing: the doctor can also check for the hormone production of relaxing which is a hormone in dogs that is secreted only at the times of pregnancies.
Signs and Symptoms of dog pregnancy
some signs that show its time you bring some emotional support to your dog include:
-Weight gain -Increase in her appetite -Increase in nipple size
At the end of your dog’s pregnancy, you will see an enlargement in her abdomen and may also see some swaying movement as she walks. Given it will be the end of the pregnancy; you may even see some of the unborn puppies moving about.
However, a bloated abdomen can be caused due to some serious underlying condition. Get your pet a prenatal checkup with a vet just to steer clear of any troubles.
Caring for your Dog
Once you are sure that your dog is pregnant, there are a lot of ways you could be a source of emotional support for her and make sure that she stays healthy during this period.
–High Nutritional Value
This is one of the most important things you could do to help your dog go through this time smoothly and effectively. If your dog is already on a high-quality diet and weighs just about right, you do not need to make any changes to her diet plan. Gradually towards the end of the pregnancy, increase her food intake slowly.
–Be regular at the vet
Follow-ups are extremely important during this phase as dogs can’t express their feelings hence their visits to the vet need to be regular and frequent in order to make sure they have everyone’s emotional support to help them with everything. Emergencies are sometimes expected during dog pregnancies so be sure to ask them what kind of emergencies can follow and how to deal with them.
Prepare for the puppies
Give the expectant mother some privacy, keep supplies ready such as newspapers and scissors and buy her a whelping box that is comfortable, clean and safe for the mother to have her puppies. Ask your vet what role you should play during the birth process and what supplies you need to keep ready. Dogs do not need assistance in giving birth unless it seems really evident. Puppies are born enclosed in the placental membrane that the mother tears away herself. If she doesn’t, you’ll have to do it yourself.
The last 3 weeks of the dog’s pregnancy re crucial. She needs to be isolated from the rest of the dogs so that she does not contract herpes virus which can cause a miscarriage of the dog.
She might get a little frustrated from being left alone but as the delivery time approaches she herself would start to find a safe and comfortable place to give birth and that should be the whelping box.
Once the process is over, the new little litter with their family will be a joyous site and you will feel proud of yourself!
Keeping your dog active is very necessary, make sure she has an active routine and does not always sit around and be lazy because this will cause her to gain extra weight which is not good for health. You can go on short walks with her but don’t get her too tired. Keep it slow and short.
Although the canine products are safe to use during dog pregnancy, the veteran advice is necessary to ensure that the product brings no harm to the dog and to the unborn puppies.
Most people don’t know this but during the period of her pregnancy the bitch should not be given any vaccinations, they are of no good to her. However, you can get the dog vaccinated just before the pregnancy if you’re lucky enough to know. This vaccination will help her to pass antibodies to her puppies.
The first six weeks of the dog’s pregnancy she might not show any change in her diet requirements, however, with the puppies growing by the 7th week, her appetite would increase as now she needs more nutrients to ensure a healthy growth of puppies.
You may now be thinking to feed your dog twice or thrice a day, well it’s not a very good idea. What is better is that you should keep the food and water available for her always so that she can eat according to her own will and whenever she is hungry. This will avoid overfeeding of the dog and she will keep on getting all the nutrients that you want her to get.
Don’t add vitamins or supplements to her diet without the advice of the vet. As the delivery date got closer she will stop eating more and have more meals in a day, so you need to worry about that.
Is a big time?
It’s easy for humans to tell that they are in labor but when it comes to dogs, they might not be very expressive. There are different signs that you need to observe in case your dog is in labor. The major symptoms include excessive urinating, panting and digging into her nest. If you see a dark green discharge from the dog it means that the placenta has disconnected and it is time for the dog to give birth. If she does not give birth after some 3 to 4 hours of disconnecting placenta you need to visit the vet immediately. Dogs usually handle all their giving birth process on their own, from giving birth to cleaning it up but you may provide a helping hand.
Splitting it up
As mentioned earlier the dog’s pregnancy lasts for 63 days, during these days the dog will show different behavior in different periods of time.so, it is better and easy to understand if we split it up.
In the beginning, you will observe a reduced appetite for you your dog and mostly morning sickness. She will go through some hormonal and physical changes as her uterus is now being enlarged. She will appear to be more distant then she usually does and you will observe her finding an alone corner. However, some dogs show opposite behavior and become very attached during their pregnancy, they demand more affection and attention.
After about 5 weeks, the dog will increase her appetite again, she will start to gain weight, nipples will be larger than normal and he belly will start to grow.
In the final days of her pregnancy, the dog starts to find a comfortable place to give birth and becomes more distant. She gets moodier and her abdomen will also grow further.
False symptoms of dog pregnancy
Sometimes it might appear that the dog is pregnant because she is showing all the signs of pregnancy, however, she is not pregnant. this phenomenon is called pseudo-pregnancy.
This is caused by the hormonal imbalance in the dog and may last for a month depending on how strong they are.
The dog would show the following signs during her hormonal imbalance period.
Loss of appetite
Mothering activities, nesting, and self-nursing
Passing of brownish watery fluid from mammary glands
The scientists have yet not been able to know the exact reasons for this kind of behavior of dogs, however mostly the hormonal imbalance is believed to be the culprit such behaviors of dogs.
With a complete knowledge of the history of your dog’s health conditions, the vet can perform different blood tests to ensure any disease that the dog might be going through. The vet would perform complete physical tests of the dog to get a better knowledge of the all the body systems of the working fine or not. X-rays and ultrasounds might also be carried out to know if the dog is pregnant or is it just pseudo-pregnancy.
Travelling with a pregnant dog
During the pregnancy, the dog and the unborn puppies are at their most vulnerable during the first three weeks, so it would be better to avoid traveling during this period. After the three weeks, it is completely safe to travel with the pregnant dog. If you travel in the last two weeks of pregnancy this may cause the dog to give birth away from home which will cause her to be stressed because as mentioned earlier the dog needs a comfortable place to give her birth and what is more comfortable than her own house.
Some tips before you travel
Take a good amount of dog food with you because her appetite has increased and you don’t want to run of food for her.
Because a pregnant dog needs to eat more times than in normal routine so you might have to stop frequently to feed her.
Make sure she is getting the right amount of exercise during her journey.
She will also need some breaks during the journey to relieve herself because of the puppies continuously putting pressure on her bladder.
If you are traveling in the last days of her pregnancy so be prepared to have some puppies around when you are coming back.
Keep her safe from catching any diseases because at this time of life she is most likely to catch any diseases so it would better to keep her away from the strange dogs that may not be vaccinated and give your dog any germs.
If your dog suffers from travel anxiety then it might not be a very good idea to make her travel while she is pregnant.
So, this is pretty much all you need to know about your pregnant dog. Happy puppies!!
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Emma Alex is the resident pet care expert. She also curates the select range of vet recommended and approved products. She enjoys writing educational articles to help those who want to look after their pets all over the place.