Whether by accident or design, your dog is pregnant. What does this mean for you? To make sure you’re ready to handle a pregnant dog and understand when something is wrong, here are a few things to know about dog pregnancy.
Puppies are a gift to the human world. Before there can be puppies, however, a dog must become pregnant. While human pregnancies are stressful enough, dog pregnancies can sometimes be considered even worse. This is simply due to the fact that you can’t speak with your dog to find out how it is doing or what it needs.
Luckily, there are a few things that you can learn about a dog’s pregnancy that can help you determine whether or not your dog is progressing in a healthy way. The first aspect to understand is the gestation period.
Unlike humans, dogs are only pregnant for around 63 days. That’s for about two months. A lot happens during those two months. It’s the first month in which the fertilized eggs move to the dog’s uterine horn.
Once those eggs reach that area, they start to grow and develop. A vet can hear the heartbeats at the end of the first month. It’s at this point that you can know for sure whether or not your dog is pregnant. Which means you have about a month to prepare for incoming puppies.
By the end of the second month and just entering into the third, that’s when you can expect puppies to be born.
Signs Your Dog Is Pregnant
To determine if your dog is pregnant, you’ll want to look for these key signs. You’ll notice that they have a sudden increase in their appetite. You might also notice that they’re starting to gain weight. On your dog’s belly, you’ll notice that their nipples are starting to increase in size for the preparation of feeding her pups.
However, there are other conditions and diseases that can cause a dog’s tummy to swell and for them to gain weight. The best way to determine if your dog is pregnant is to have a diagnostic taken. This test takes place 28 days after the dog was bred or when you suspect that she might be pregnant.
During this test, the vet will carefully press into the abdomen to feel for the pups. At this stage, the pups are in a sac-like membrane that resembles golf balls. Because the diagnostic can injure the puppies when done unprofessionally, it’s important that this test is only performed by a vet.
You can also have your vet perform an ultrasound. This should take place between 25 and 35 days of the breeding period or when you suspect she’s pregnant. The ultrasound can detect the heartbeats of the puppies.
One last way your vet can determine if the dog is pregnant is by doing a hormone check after 30 days of gestation. They’ll check for the hormone relaxin. When pregnant, relaxin is released. It isn’t present any other time.
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Caring for a Pregnant Dog
Just like with human pregnancies, the mother needs to be given special care to ensure the health of the puppies. One of the ways that you can care for your pregnant dog is to ensure she is receiving proper nutrition.
You’ll want to feed her excellent quality of food and that she keeps her weight up. However, you shouldn’t change her diet until the second part of the pregnancy. During the last five weeks is when her weight will start to increase. By then, you should ensure she’s eating 35%-50% more than she would normally.
"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two."
-- Phil Pastoret