If your dog is expecting, it’s essential to learn more about this life-changing period. So, what’s dog pregnancy like? And how long are dogs pregnant?

Let’s learn more to calculate when exactly your dog will give birth. We’ve put together all the important facts and details you need to know about dog pregnancy:

The Dog Heat Cycle

How long does it take for a dog to get pregnant? Not that long. It can happen twice a year during the female heat cycle. That’s usually every six months, but it can vary by breed. The heat cycle lasts from 18 to 21 days, and it has four distinct periods:

  • Proestrus
  • Estrus
  • Diestrus
  • Anestrus

Proestrus, the first stage, takes place for about nine days. That’s when your female dog will start to attract males, but she won’t allow any physical contact yet. This happens during the second stage – Estrus. It lasts from 3 to 11 days, during which your dog can mate.

Diestrus lasts around 14 days, and it’s a period when your dog won’t allow physical contact again. Any swelling around the genitals will reduce at that time, too. The final stage, Anestrus, is the period between the end of the heat cycle and the beginning of the next one.

Early Signs of Dog Pregnancy

Although it could be difficult to notice the very first signs of dog pregnancy, knowing about them will make it easier. They show up a few weeks after mating and include:

  • Lack of activity
  • Morning sickness
  • Change in nipples

So, do dogs get morning sickness? Yes, they may puke a little during the third or fourth week of gestation. Also, they tend to lose their appetite at that time.

Another symptom you can notice is a lack of activity. Your dog won’t be as playful and would prefer to lie down.

The final symptom is their nipples changing. While you stroke your dog, you may feel her nipples growing slightly larger. And if you want to be entirely sure, you can measure her waist.

Vet checking a Dog

Ways to Confirm Your Dog’s Expecting 

When does a pregnant dog start to show? After noticing the first signs, you can take your dog to the vet to confirm the pregnancy. Here’s how they usually do that:

Palpation

The first and cheapest way to determine if your pet is pregnant is through palpation. Between the 21 and 35 days of pregnancy, your vet can feel the puppies in the womb with their hands. At that time, they’ll be the size of a tennis ball if it’s a larger breed.    

Ultrasound

So how to tell how far along your dog is? Ultrasound is another way to determine that with accuracy. Also, a vet can use it to tell you the litter size. Its number depends on the breed, but remember that a dog and her offspring can make over 67,000 puppies in six years.

Hormone Tests

Your vet can do hormone tests, and you can even take them at home. They test the relaxin hormone, which is released during pregnancy. You should do it at least after 30 days of mating for the best accuracy. Otherwise, the test may be false.

X-Ray

X-ray is the best way to determine how many puppies your furry friend expects. That could occur between the 45–55 days of the pregnancy — the later it is, the more accurate.

How Many Days Is a Dog Pregnant?

The answer is approximately 63 days. Some dogs might give birth earlier — before the 60th day, while others — after the 65th. If your dog still hasn’t given birth after 70 days, you need to take her to a vet because there might be some complications.

Dog Pregnancy Duration — Month by Month

A dog’s gestation period is much shorter than a woman’s, but it’s not less complicated. And if you want to help your pet, you need to know what she goes through every month of the pregnancy.

First Month

We can divide all the stages a pregnant dog goes through into weeks. During the first two weeks of the pregnancy, you don’t have to change your dog’s daily routine much. But remember not to overfeed her. You may notice a bigger appetite in the third and fourth weeks of the gestation period, but don’t increase the food intake by more than 10%. 

Second Month

So, how long are dogs pregnant, and what are the next signs? Your dog will experience many changes during the second gestation month. The fifth week marks the end of the first gestation stage. Then, organs begin to form, and the embryo becomes a fetus. That’s the best time to visit your vet for the first time.

You can also notice some behavioral changes in the mother. For instance, she could have a bigger appetite, weight gain, and increased urination. You can even notice puppy movement. And since she won’t be too active, you can ensure her comfort with a calming fluffy dog bed.

Third Month 

The third month marks the end of the dog pregnancy timeline. By the 58th day, the puppies are almost completely developed. That’s also when the mother will start getting ready for giving birth. 

You will notice visible changes, including a lack of appetite. She’ll be more restless and will pant. Also, she’ll start “digging.” That means she’s preparing a nest for the babies, so you can give her some cardboard to score on. 

These are the first signs of your dog getting ready to give birth, so make sure you’re prepared for it, too.

How Long Does It Take Dogs to Have Puppies — Labor Stages

Dogs are usually pretty good at handling the birth process by themselves. Still, you should know more about the process so that you can help if there’s a need.

Stage One

When do dogs give birth? Once your dog starts panting, digging, and being restless, the first stage begins. The place where your pet will give birth needs to be comfortable for her. While you’re waiting for the big moment, you can lay down cushions, blankets, and prepare some clean towels.

You can offer the mother a special treat, like vanilla ice cream. That will give her the energy she needs before whelping. Plus, it’s rich in calcium. Don’t worry if, at one point, she refuses to eat or vomits. These are the other two signs of the first stage.

Stage Two

During the second of the dog labor stages, the puppies are born. It starts when the mother’s water breaks. Then, the first puppy must arrive within four hours. If it hasn’t, you need to contact the vet as soon as possible.

When the mother starts pushing, the first puppy will arrive any minute. When it’s born, you can help her clean its airways, but let her do the rest on her own. She can cut the umbilical cord, and you can assist by making sure she doesn’t do it too close to the core. 

How long until a dog gives birth? Dogs deliver one puppy at a time, and each comes every 30 to 60 minutes at the earliest or within one to two hours at the latest. If it takes more than that, contact your vet. It’s helpful to have the exact litter number so that you know when the last pup arrives.

Stage Three

All the puppies are born in the last stage, and the placenta is delivered. Also, you can assist your dog by showing the pups the way to the first breast milk — the colostrum. It’ll give them antibodies to strengthen their immune system. Then, simply let the mother and babies rest.

How to Look After a Pregnant Dog

Now that you’ve learned more about the dog pregnancy timeline, you also need to know how to care for the mother.

Diet

Giving your dog high-quality natural dog food is essential for all life stages, but it’s crucial throughout the whole dog pregnancy length because the pups will feed on it too. You can find dog food that’s specifically targeted at pregnant dogs. We recommend putting her on a high protein, fat, and mineral diet.

Giving your dog smaller amounts on a more regular basis can help handle the morning sickness and give her more energy. The mother dog might want more food, especially at the end of the pregnancy and after giving birth. You can consult your vet about the exact recommended quantity.

Exercise

Although a pregnant dog may not be very active, she can still do some non-intensive and stress-free exercises. Even after the early signs of dog pregnancy, you can take her on short and regular walks or have some casual playtime.

In the last couple of pregnancy weeks, it’s advisable to separate your dog from any other dogs. That includes doing her regular exercises at home or in your yard. In the last part of the dog gestation period, you can do training at home to avoid meeting other animals. That will decrease the possibility of parasites and illnesses.

Supplements

Since a dog can be ravenous during pregnancy, she might also get heavier. You need to be careful of this. So if you want to give your pet the ingredients she needs, supplements are a good solution.

You can help your dog recover after pregnancy with Oxy Momma Nursing & Recovery Supplement. It’s perfect for breastfeeding mommies. Of course, it’s best to contact your vet to be extra sure this is good for your dog’s condition.

After Birth Dog Care

Now that you know all about the pregnant dog’s behavior week by week, you need to continue observing it after the birth. In some cases, the mother may not want to stay with the puppies, so you must change their location where she’d feel more comfortable.

You also need to make sure the puppies are warm and fed. Some may be pushed away if the litter is too big, especially if they’re close to the mother’s hind legs. Check their position every couple of hours and relocate them if necessary.

It helps to have a puppy supply list with all the necessary items for the babies. Take water and food to the mother regularly since she’ll be mostly lying. It’s advisable to have her and the puppies checked by a vet within 48 hours after the birth. And if you notice anything abnormal or worrying, contact the vet immediately.

Wrap Up

Dog pregnancy is a wonderful change, but it also comes with responsibilities. When you know all the dog pregnancy symptoms week by week and the healthy way in which a dog’s gestation develops, you can help your pet by feeding her the right food and providing immediate veterinary care if needed. 

So how long are dogs pregnant? About 63 days, and you need to be fully prepared for the big day.

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