If your dog is female and not spayed, you stand a very good chance of becoming a grandparent to a litter of puppies! While we as humans quickly know when something is amiss, our pets cannot tell us when they are ill, when something is wrong, or that they are pregnant. There are a few things you can watch out for, though, and a number of things you can do if this is the situation.
Signs that your dog is pregnant
Just like with a woman that is pregnant, a dog’s body also gives signs when she is going to have a litter. If you know what to look for, it is quite easy.
Just like with humans, many dogs have a little morning sickness. This may result in a reduced appetite for a while. Don’t worry if this is the case. As soon as this morning sickness period is over, her appetite will be right on track!
- Her appetite increases
Once the initial morning sickness is over, your girl will want to eat more. This is because she has babies that need growing in her belly. Puppies take a lot out of a mother, so the more she stocks up, the better.
A pregnant dog’s breasts enlarge slightly and the tissue under the nipple becomes slightly swollen. The nipples also enlarge. This is noticeable approximately three weeks after she has fallen pregnant.
The color of her nipples also changes. Where they are normally light pink in color, they are flushed. This is especially the case of the six nipples nearest her back legs.
- Change in behavior
Do not be alarmed if she is less active. Making babies is hard work and she needs her rest. Dogs also sometimes undergo personality changes. A quiet dog may become more demanding or affectionate, while a usually happy, loving girl becomes subdued or even grumpy. Do not take it personally. Her hormones are acting up and her body is changing. She is entitled to not feel her usual self.
How can I be sure my dog is going to become a mother?
If you see the signs mentioned then she is probably pregnant. You can, however, make use of modern medicine to make 100 percent sure that you are going to be a proud puppy grandparent soon. There are a number of ways to do so.
- Take and X-ray
An X-ray taken during the middle of the second month shows the babies, their growth, and of course, how many there are.
- An Ultrasound
An ultrasound is safe, especially during the initial stages of pregnancy. Although it confirms her pregnancy, it does not tell you much about the individual puppies nor how many there are.
- Pregnancy kits
Dog pregnancies have moved into the 21 century! Pregnancy kits are now available. The difference is you need a little of your dog’s blood to do them. It is most probably a better idea to allow your veterinarian to do this little procedure.
- Blood tests
Once again, just like humans, a simple blood test also does the trick. This is where drawn blood’s hormone levels get tested.
Your veterinarian, at about a month, can determine her pregnancy by feeling her tummy. Do not try this at home! You may hurt the puppies or even cause their deaths. A veterinarian is trained in this procedure and knows exactly what to feel for, where to press, and how hard to do so. You do not want your baby girl going through the trauma associated with a miscarriage, do you?
Looking after a pregnant dog
Luckily or unluckily, there is not much you can do for your girl while she is pregnant except cater to certain of her needs. The most important of these is her nutrition.
She should have a balanced, high-quality diet that sees to her pregnant needs. The period after she gives birth and nurses her puppies also needs special consideration.
Keep up with your parasite control. If a pregnant dog has worms it is unhealthy for both the mother and children. No shots should be given after the seventh week of pregnancy. If the pregnancy is unplanned and you are unsure of how long she is pregnant, rather wait until she gives birth and weans her puppies.
Other than her diet and health, there is not much more you can do for her except build her whelping box and wait out the pregnancy with her.
How long does a dog’s pregnancy last?
The average length of a pregnancy in dogs is about two months (sixty-three days), or, in other words, about nine weeks. This is just an average, though, and not fixed in stone.
The truth of the matter, however, is it varies. One of the main factors determining the gestation period is the size of the breed. Larger breeds carry puppies for a shorter period (about 58 days) while smaller breeds carry them for longer (about 67 days).
Litter size also plays a role. Larger litters have a shorter gestation period as the space available for puppies to grow is only so much. When a dog mother has a small litter, the pregnancy is longer.
A final consideration is hereditary. Certain dog lines have longer pregnancy periods while others have shorter ones. Your recognized dog breeder has the answers here as they keep a record of such things.
False pregnancy in dogs
Sometimes female dogs show all the normal signs of pregnancy but are not. This is known as a false pregnancy or a pseudo-pregnancy. The female dog usually shows these symptoms about a month or two after she was on heat. She shows all the typical signs of pregnancy, and may even lactate.
There is no real known reason why this happens. It is commonly believed, however, that her hormones play a role. A number of dogs develop this condition shortly after their ovaries are removed, though.
A thorough checkup at the veterinarian should find the reason. Blood tests show whether it is due to a hormonal imbalance.
The initial stage of labor has your dog building a nest. If you have not yet built her a whelping box, give her a large cardboard box lined with newspapers. Once the puppies are born and she leaves them for a few minutes, clean out the dirty newspapers and replace them with soft, warm towels or a blanket.
Dogs very seldom have trouble giving birth. If you notice signs of trouble, get her to the veterinarian immediately. Something may be wrong, such as a puppy turned the wrong way, for example.
She may be tired after giving birth to her second or third puppy. Here is where you come in.
Sit with her and keep her calm. Have a towel handy and dry the puppies off after she is done with them. Remember, mommy needs to clean her kids first! Make sure she has water and perhaps something to eat. Birthing is hard work.
When your four-legged baby has babies of her own you want to pitch in and help. The best you can do for her is to give her the space and support she needs to do it by herself. There is plenty of time for playing with your new ‘grandchildren’ later!
Before you leave, check this video regarding pregnancy in dogs: