Human pregnancies typically last for nine months. Amongst dogs, the process ends in just sixty-three days (a little over two months) no matter the dog breed. A dog’s pregnancy spans from the start of ovulation to the day of delivery. Dogs go through three trimesters, with each trimester numbering twenty-one days.
There are many things involved in a dog’s pregnancy. To help you learn all the essential aspects quickly, we have laid out the basics beginning with the signs of pregnancy.
Telltale Dog Pregnancy Signs
Pregnant dogs also experience morning sickness but only on the third or fourth week. They will also seem tired most of the time and eat less than usual portions. However, if you observe changes in your dog’s behaviour or eating habits, don’t immediately assume that she is pregnant. Better consult a veterinarian to rule out serious conditions like diabetes.
Dog Pregnancy Tests
Vet clinics also run tests to find definitive signs of pregnancy. The ultrasound can detect signs three weeks in and show growing puppies inside your dog’s tummy. Ultrasound is a safe method of determining pregnancies as it is non-invasive. It only uses sound waves to produce an image of your dog’s womb.
Your vet will also collect blood sample to check the dog’s hormone levels. Blood test results will show a higher level of ‘relaxin.’ It is a hormone produced in the developing placenta following the formation (or implantation) of an embryo.
Your Dog Is Pregnant: What Now?
Nutrition During Dog Pregnancy
A pregnant canine’s nutrition is not so different from her pre-pregnancy needs, however, the portions need to be increased. Your dog is already feeding more mouths in its womb, so she will need the extra nutrition. Do not add extra supplements to your dog’s diet, though. You should only do so upon the recommendation of your vet.
Exercise During Dog Pregnancy
Here are things that you should keep in mind when it comes to your pregnant pet’s physical activity:
- You may need to reduce or change the amount of exercise your dog is getting. This depends on the status of your dog’s pregnancy and what the vet will advise.
- Regular walks will help increase muscle tone and keep off unnecessary weight.
- Low-impact exercise reduces the chances of injury.
- Always take short breaks during walks since pregnant dogs often tire easily.
Whelping: Preparation for a Dog to Give Birth
These are what you need to do ahead of the delivery day:
- Prepare a whelping box—the single biggest item on your list. It will provide enough space for your dog to lie and stretch, and also enough room for the puppies. It is a good idea to set the whelping box in a quiet and safe location.
- Gather the necessary whelping supplies, such as a heat lamp, whelping pad, and liners. All these will help keep the newborn puppies warm until they can regulate their own body heat.
- Monitor your dog’s temperature a few days before your dog is scheduled to give birth. You can take it through her ear or rectum. Start taking the dog’s temperature two times a day, every twelve hours. The normal temperature for a pregnant dog ranges between 100–101 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature is expected to drop to 97 degrees (for two consecutive readings). When this happens, it signals impending labour within the next 24 hours.
Stages of Labour
There are three stages of labour:
Your dog will feel restless at this stage and lose her appetite to eat anything at all.
- Active labour
Your dog will start to push out her puppies.
- Delivery of the placenta or postpartum (after delivery)
First, you will see a dark bubble coming out, which is the puppy’s sac (each puppy has its own sac). Do not attempt to break the sac until the puppies are out. If the puppies are out but their sacs didn’t break open, or the mother did not do so, you must break the sacs yourself. Once the sac is open, wipe off any mucus or liquid on each puppy’s muzzle.
You may notice a navel cord attached to each puppy—this is their umbilical cord. Mother dogs have the instinct to sever the umbilical cords on their own. However, if your dog fails to do this, you need to intervene by tying the cord off using a thread. Make sure you tie the thread an inch away from the pup’s body, then cut the cord between the knot and the placenta or the sac.
Often, the mother dog will rest a few minutes in between pushing out the puppy. However, some dogs deliver them quicker.
The Monitoring Continues
It takes a lot of work to see through your dog’s pregnancy until she gives birth to a healthy litter of puppies. However, your responsibilities as a dog owner do not end there. It is crucial that you continuously monitor the mother dog. That is because she will continue to discharge blood after delivery, which should lessen in amount daily.
As part of the postpartum care, make sure to take the mother dog and the puppies to the vet within 24 hours. This is to see if all the placentas are out. Watch out for signs of infection, such as a foul green discharge and temperature going over 102 degrees Fahrenheit. When these happen, take the dog to the vet immediately.
You may also like to read: