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Signs of Dog Pregnancy & Caring for a Pregnant Dog

Signs of Dog Pregnancy & Caring for a Pregnant Dog

Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be nerve-wracking. Dog pregnancy is no different. From the different stages of pregnancy to the right care for your female dog, there is so much to know to ensure a healthy pregnancy and whelping experience. Thomas Labs® is here to help ensure a smooth experience for you both!

How Long are Dogs Pregnant?

One of the first questions that many people ask concerning dog pregnancy is: “How long are dogs pregnant?” The answer is about 63 days. The dog gestation period is measured from the day your dog ovulates to the day of whelping. Using a whelping calendar can help you figure out your dog's due date and keep track of your dog’s pregnancy.

Similar to humans, dogs are pregnant for 3 trimesters; however, their trimesters are only about 21 days long. Here are a few notable milestones during dog pregnancy:

1. The fertilized eggs travel to the uterine horn. After embedding themselves in the lining, the eggs start to develop.

2. By the end of the first month, your vet can detect fetal heartbeats.

3. During the second month, the embryos start developing into recognizable puppies.

4. Around day 63, your puppies are ready to be born!

How to Tell if Your Dog Is Pregnant

If you think your dog might be pregnant, it's always a good idea to consult your veterinarian. He or she can perform a variety of diagnostic tests to determine if your dog is pregnant. Depending on how far along your dog is, the vet may do an ultrasound, perform abdominal palpation, measure your dog's hormone levels, or do an X-ray.

• Abdominal Palpation: Between days 28 and 35, your vet may feel your dog’s belly to check for puppies. This should only be performed by a trained professional as it can cause a miscarriage and harm the puppies.

• Hormone Levels: After day 30, your vet can do a blood test to measure your dog’s hormones. If your dog is pregnant, she will be producing the hormone relaxin.

• Ultrasound: Your vet can do an ultrasound between days 25 and 35 to determine if your dog is pregnant.

• X-ray: Performing an X-ray during the last few weeks of pregnancy can help you determine how many puppies to expect when the big day comes. The puppies’ skeletal systems won’t show up on an X-ray until at least day 45 to 55.

Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

During the early stages of a dog’s pregnancy, you may not notice any changes or see any visible signs. Some dogs may gain some weight and others may show signs of morning sickness caused by hormonal changes during the 3rd or 4th week. Other early signs may include loss of appetite, fatigue, and vomiting.

By the end of the 2nd trimester, your dog’s belly will get bigger, and her nipples will get larger and darker. As your dog’s pregnancy progresses, her breasts will enlarge and may leak a milky fluid. During the last 2 weeks of pregnancy, you might be able to see and feel the puppies moving inside her.

How to Care for a Pregnant Dog

Caring for a pregnant dog includes prenatal checkups and making sure she receives proper nutrition. Prenatal checkups are important to ensure your momma dog is healthy and help set her up for a successful pregnancy.

After you've determined that your dog is pregnant, proper nutrition is key. Make sure your dog is eating a good quality dog food. As her pregnancy progresses, your dog's appetite will slowly increase.

Around day 40 of gestation, the puppies start to rapidly develop. The highest energy requirement for the mom is between weeks 6 and 8. Depending on the size of the litter, her energy needs may be 30 to 60% higher than normal adult maintenance rations. During the last few weeks of pregnancy, it's recommended to increase her food intake gradually and feed her multiple small meals.

Meeting Nutritional Requirements

Malnourishment of the momma before breeding and during pregnancy can lead to neonatal puppy mortality. It's important to ensure your dog's body can meet the demands of pregnancy. Pregnancy causes an increase in nutritional needs that should be addressed to maximize the health of the momma dog and her puppies. Giving your momma dog a prenatal vitamin will help cover nutritional gaps in her diet and help support the needs of developing puppies.

Breeding a dog and caring for a pregnant dog come with a lot of unknowns. At Thomas Labs®, we offer a variety of solutions to help maintain the health of your stud, mom, and newborn puppies. With the right tools and information, you can help ensure a successful pregnancy and healthy puppies!


The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet healthcare professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.

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