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How to Care for Your Pregnant Dog

Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Care, and Preparing for Puppies

If you ever want to start breeding your dog, there is a lot of information that all pet owners must know before doing so. It’s one of the most wonderful things your pet can go through as it is incredibly rewarding in the end. But, of course, before the puppies come to the world, pet owners must be aware of how to know, care, and prep for expecting mother dogs. 

Each dog breed has its own standard and health test recommendation that dog owners must be aware of. Before you start this pregnancy journey with your dog, you must also commit to the responsibility of caring for your pregnant dog – before, during, and after – to be able to care and raise healthy puppies. Read on further on the guide for pregnant dogs!

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

Dogs usually carry puppies for 62-64 days or approximately 2 months. There is no exact date of delivery date for the puppies since it varies and does not match the date of the conception. According to Merck Vet Manual, the length of a dog’s pregnancy varies depending on the breed and size of the dog. 

To add to that, American Kennel Club’s chief veterinarian officer, Dr. Jerry Klein explains that during the first month of pregnancy, the fertilized eggs travel to the uterine horn where they attach themselves to the lining that lasts about 15-18 days. The growth of the fetus puppies is quick during early pregnancy and doubles in size every 7 days. After the first month, heartbeats can already be heard, and by the second month, embryos will start to form into puppies until they are ready to be born before the start of the third month or during the first week of the third month.

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Pregnant

One of the easy ways to tell if your dog is pregnant is through their changes in behaviour. They usually tend to feel more tired, decreased appetite, and even vomit. Along with those, you can see physical changes such as sudden weight gain and have more prominent mammary glands. 

It is also important to note that changes in hormones is similar to what happens after a heat – where it will be higher than normal. This results in a fake pregnancy which can manifest itself as pregnancy symptoms such as lactation and/or behaviour changes. If these symptoms go away, there is no need for medical intervention and is usually harmless, but some side effects may occur. When that happens, it’s best to bring them to the vet for checkup. 

To officially confirm if your pet is pregnant or not, you may bring your dog to the veterinarian for a proper pregnancy test. What usually happens is they will do an ultrasound if the pregnancy is already at 25-28 days. If the pregnancy is at day 45, an x-ray test will be performed on the abdominal area. The veterinarian will also conduct endocrine tests to check on the hormone changes of pregnant dogs. Blood tests for pregnancy confirmation are not as accurate compared to human testing, so it’s best to confirm and see your veterinarian for the best and most accurate results.

Signs of Dog Pregnancy 

To know if your dog is pregnant or not, you can look at the signs to confirm and help you prepare on what they may need. Here are the common signs to look out for:

  • Less active 
  • More lethargic than usual
  • Loss of appetite
  • Acting more withdrawn
  • Morning sickness or vomiting
  • Hormonal changes
  • Scratching of floor
  • Food hoarding
  • Nesting
  • Needing more attention and affection
  • More irritable or sensitive especially around loud noises
  • Vaginal discharge after one month into pregnancy
  • Swelling of teats
  • Swelling of abdomen around 20-50% 


Some swelling of the abdomen for some dogs may not be prominent, but once you start to notice these early signs of pregnancy, you can bring them to the vet. 

Caring for a Pregnant Dog 

Pet owners must properly take care of their pregnant dog for a healthy and uncomplicated birth when the time comes. During this time, proper nutrition, supplements, and care is important to keep your dog and their puppies healthy. 

  • DIET

You will notice an increase in appetite for your dog, so you may need to purchase more food than before. Make sure to feed them regularly with good quality pet food. You may consult with your veterinarian on the best nutrition and diet plan for your dog that gives them the appropriate amount of calories, vitamins, energy, and protein they need. Supplements are not always required if they are following a proper diet plan, but some vets may recommend it, depending on your dog’s condition.

  • VACCINATION

Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up-to-date before her pregnancy to avoid transmission of possible viruses or diseases to unborn puppies. You may arrange vaccination schedule and appointment with your vet.

  • INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL TREATMENTS

Possible parasites like ringworms, heartworms, or fleas can affect your pregnant dog, so make sure to treat them early on. You may consult with your vet to know which treatments work best and are safe for pregnant dogs.

  • EXERCISE

Regular light exercises like walks are recommended for pregnant dogs. Avoid heavy or strenuous activities for your dog. During the time of your dog’s last trimester, frequent walks are needed to give the mother more energy to prepare for labour and provide more nutrition to her puppies before they are born.

Conclusion 

Having a pregnant dog is no easy task, but the end will be worth all the stress and effort – both for you and your pet. It is important to look for signs that they may be pregnant, which shows through their actions and physical changes. For official confirmation and recommendations, you may visit your veterinarian. 

During pregnancy, proper care is important for your dog, so make sure to give them a proper nutritional diet, update their vaccinations, avoid internal and external parasites, and give them daily light exercise. In doing so, you are helping your pet stay strong and healthy in preparation for their labour, so they can conceive puppies properly.

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