Many people have female dogs who have puppies at some point, sometimes through breeding. If you’ve never experienced dog pregnancy, you may be wondering, “how long are dogs pregnant?”
It’s always best to prepare for situations. Familiarize yourself with the pregnancy timeline and know what to expect.
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
The straightforward answer is between 58 and 68 days, although it can vary slightly by breed. This is measured from ovulation through the birth of the puppies.
If you aren’t sure if your dog is pregnant, look for some telling signs. She’ll gain some weight as expected, but she won’t act very different initially.
Some pregnant dogs begin experiencing morning sickness in weeks 3 and 4 due to hormone changes. But this only lasts for a few days.
You may notice your dog eating less and being lazier a few weeks into the pregnancy. Give her small meals throughout the day to motivate her and keep her nurtured.
Testing for Pregnancy
Conducting a pregnancy test for dogs isn’t as easy as it is for humans. More than likely you have to visit the vet to have tests done.
Knowing when your dog was bred is useful information to share with the veterinarian, as it helps determine what to look for.
To determine if your dog is pregnant, veterinarians will usually run one of four tests.
One test checks for the hormone relaxin, which can give a pretty accurate result. Only happening during pregnancy, placental tissue releases relaxin.
There is one downside to a hormone test. Dogs have to be 1 month into the gestation period for the most accurate result. False negatives have been the result in the past.
The cheapest and most convenient pregnancy test for dogs is palpation. Fluid-filled sacs are formed as the fetuses develop.
During the third and fourth weeks of gestation, the sacs can be felt. They can grow to the size of a ping pong ball in larger dogs.
The distinctive shape is lost after one month. The uterus begins to feel floppy and is commonly mistaken as pyometra or fat.
Because of the skull and spine development, x-rays are most effective later in the pregnancy. Ideally, you should wait for an x-ray until just shy of 2 months into the pregnancy.
This will give the most accurate number of expected pups in your future. Likewise, it helps to plan the best time for a c-section if necessary.
If you want to know how many puppies to you’ll have soon, an x-ray can tell you that. However, they aren’t always cheap.
Ultrasounds are great to determine if your female is pregnant early on. It’s recommended to have one performed right around the 1 month mark.
In addition to detecting pregnancy, ultrasounds can expose if the fetus is healthy. Ultrasounds also help calculate the age of the fetus and rule out other uterine distension causes.
Symptoms During the Pregnancy Stages
While humans take 9 months to develop and be born, puppies only take three. Dogs show different symptoms during the months leading up to birth.
During the first month, you’ll begin to notice some differences in the dog. These include:
- Appetite increases
- Nipples slightly enlarge
- Behavior is more affectionate
- Less physically active
- Possible morning sickness
- Vaginal discharge (clear)
In the following month, the signs are more prominent, including:
- Exceptional increase in appetite
- 25% weight gain
- Urinating frequently
- Changes in behavior
- Vaginal discharge (clear, odorless)
- Abdomen enlarges halfway through the month
- Appetite begins to decrease towards the end
- Puppy movement visible
In the third and final month of pregnancy, things intensify as the soon-to-be-mother prepares for the arrival of her puppies. You’ll notice:
- Loss of appetite
- Trimmed waist as puppies move to birth canal
- Body temperature drops half a day to a full day before birth
- Panting, pacing, digging, or shivering
As the gestation period ends, your dog moves into labor.
Arrival of the Puppies
We’re almost through the long dog pregnancy. Similarly to the three months of pregnancy, there are three stages of labor.
Consider having a whelping pad nearby to make the delivery slightly more comfortable.
Stage one isn’t always noticeable as contractions aren’t visually evident. The stage will last between 12 and 24 hours.
You’ll notice many of the symptoms during the final stage of pregnancy, as well as vomiting and nesting. Your dog may also recluse herself as she prepares to give birth.
You’re almost through the process as stage two rolls around and the puppies are delivered. Puppies are delivered individually and can take up to 24 hours.
Knowing the number of puppies expected is helpful during stage two. Deliveries normally occur every 30 minutes to an hour, with each taking two hours maximum.
Stage three occurs shortly after the preceding stage. In stage three, your dog delivers the placenta. It completes when your dog delivers all of the placentas.
If the labor takes longer than 24 hours or the time between puppies exceeds 2 hours, contact your vet. These are usually signs of complications.
Now You Know How Long Dogs Are Pregnant For
You now have several puppies running around and bringing joy to both you and your new mothering dog.
Have you already come up with names for your puppies? They need to be called something.
If you experience any problems during the pregnancy, labor, or with the puppies, contact your vet immediately.
Be sure to feed and care for the newborns and the new parent. Have some soft puppy food for when the puppies moves away from breastfeeding.
Give them the healthiest and happiest life.