Is your dog pregnant? Perhaps you’re thinking about breeding your dog soon and want to know what pregnancy involves?
Unless you’ve had your dog spayed, pregnancy is something that could soon be on the cards. Take a look at some common questions about dog pregnancy and the answers you need to provide the best care for your pet.
When can a dog get pregnant?
A dog normally reaches sexual maturity at around 6 months old. Once she has her first heat, she will be able to become pregnant. Some smaller dogs might mature quicker, with some experiencing their first heat at around 4 months.
What happens when a dog is in season/heat?
A dog’s heat cycle generally lasts for two to three weeks. During that time, there will be some bleeding, and at around 7-10 days she will be receptive to male dogs mating with her. You might notice your dog licking her vulva at the beginning of her season, with bleeding beginning a few days later.
A dog will generally have two seasons every six months or so, although this will be less frequent in larger dogs. You can have smear tests carried out to assess if it’s a good time for your dog to mate if you are interested in having a litter.
How do you find out of your dog is pregnant?
If your dog has mated while in season, there is a good chance she could be pregnant. Some of the signs that your dog is pregnant include:
- Changes to her appetite.
- Some discharge appearing approximately a month following mating.
- Your dog might be sick (think morning sickness!) at first.
- You will start to notice some weight gain around 35 days into the pregnancy.
- You might notice changes to her teats, which could look fuller, as well as being a darker colour.
- She might experience a drop in energy or be quieter than usual.
If you think your dog could be pregnant, you can request a test from your vet at around 21 days. They can also carry out an ultrasound or a physical examination to see how many puppies are expected in the litter. They can usually give you a good estimate, although you could end up with more puppies than you were expecting!
How long are dogs pregnant?
The dog gestation period is typically 58-68 days. This varies depending on the dog’s size.
What are the signs your dog is about to give birth?
You can help your dog prepare for labour by finding her somewhere quiet she can nest around two weeks before she’s due. Make it comfortable and cosy, while making sure the puppies won’t be able to escape easily once they’re born!
It should be pretty easy to spot when your dog is going into labour. Her body temperature will drop, so you can monitor her temperature in the run up to help you work out when it’s time. She’ll likely lose her appetite and become a bit restless and move around her nest a lot.
When she does go into labour, be on hand in case of any complications and to soothe her if needed. Keep an eye out for when the puppies are born as they might need some help removing fluid from their mouths to help them breathe. The mum should do this herself, but she might be preoccupied with delivering the other puppies. Having crying puppies is a good sign that they can breathe properly. It’s important to have your vets’ number to hand in case of an emergency so that you can give help to your dog and the puppies as quickly as possible.
After the puppies are born, you should encourage the mother to feed and go outside to the toilet when she can. If you have any questions or concerns, you should consult your vet.
What is a phantom pregnancy?
Some dogs might experience a ‘phantom’ pregnancy, where a dog might start acting and even looking, she’s pregnant. Keep an eye out for some of the signs around 8 weeks after the end of her season. If you know she hasn’t mated, you can be confident she isn’t pregnant. The phantom pregnancy should end around 2-3 weeks later. There’s a good chance your dog will have recurring phantom pregnancies, so if you don’t intend to breed her, you should consider having her spayed.
There is a lot to learn and take in around pregnancy in dogs, but your vet will be able to give you some useful advice. The arrival of puppies in your house can be an exciting time, bringing a lot of joy to your family even if they’re only with you for a short while.
Click here to view our other articles