My dog is pregnant… now what?

November 2, 2020 | Pet Guides | Cari Evans
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My dog is pregnant… now what?

If your female dog seems different, gaining weight and seeming a little more sluggish than usual. She’s eating and drinking fine, seems comfortable but something is just a little off. You could wonder, is my dog pregnant? Your mind starts racing—after all, she cannot “tell you” if it’s a possibility. Here are some things that might indicate your lady dog is pregnant.

Is my dog pregnant?

Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

We’ll go ahead and state the obvious here: if your dog is spayed… she is not pregnant. If your dog is not spayed or you are trying to breed her, there are some telling signs that she could, in fact, be pregnant.

Physical Signs

One of the most common signs is her stomach swelling (those aren’t potatoes in there!) as she will start to put on weight 45-50 days after conception.

If she is bearing puppies, additional signs your dog could be pregnant include decreased activity, change in appetite, displays of nesting behaviors such as shredding bedding or digging or scratching at the floor, enlarged nipples, and weight gain. A typical dog’s pregnancy lasts anywhere from 58 – 68 days.

Behavior Changes

When a dog is pregnant, she will most likely act a bit differently due to her hormones. Behavior changes include decreased energy and disinterest in her regular exercise routine. If your dog is acting strange, it could be an indication that something is off regarding her health or she could be bearing pups.

Some pregnant dogs will become extra clingy with their owners while they are expecting. Other dogs tend to seclude themselves and prefer to be left alone. The seclusion phase is particularly true during the last few stages of pregnancy when she starts to display nesting behaviors.

Some dogs may also show a loss of appetite or signs of depression during pregnancy. Those new expecting momma emotions can be strong!

She will likely be a little more irritable during this time and wandering off into hiding places during this time. Seeking her own comfortable place to rest and get ready to deliver her pups. This is an instinctive maternal behavior because if she were on her own, she would need a safe and private space where she can give birth and raise the puppies while they are small, vulnerable, and dependent solely on her.

Pregnancy Tests for Dogs

If you think your dog is pregnant, it is recommended to take her to the vet for an exam. Your veterinarian can use several different methods to determine if your dog is pregnant. After 21-25 days, your vet can perform a blood test for Relaxin, a hormone produced only by pregnant dogs. This method will confirm the pregnancy, although it does not confirm the number of pups.

Another common pregnancy test performed is with an ultrasound. It is a non-invasive, reliable option that can detect puppies at around 28 days. The most accurate approach to detecting the number of puppies is with an x-ray, which can distinguish skeletons after 49 days. However, some vets will advise against performing an x-ray to avoid exposing the developing puppies to radiation.

How long is my dog pregnant?

Dogs are pregnant for approximately 63 days, or about two months. For more information about the length of your dog’s pregnancy, check out another resource for more information.

My dog is pregnant… Now what?

Here are a few questions we commonly receive when a customer discovers their dog is pregnant.

How many puppies is my dog going to have?

A female dog has 10 teats, but this does not mean she can automatically provide sufficient nutrition for that many puppies in one litter. An average litter consists of five to six puppies, though this number may vary widely based on the breed of dog. Some dog breeds will need veterinarian assistance with a caesarean section (c-section) for the birthing (whelping) process due to health reasons, and most notably the typical head size of these breeds vs. the mom’s frame. Such breeds include Pugs, Boston terriers, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, Bulldogs, Border terriers, Pekingese and Boxers.

If your dog is one of these breeds listed above and you suspect your dog is pregnant, contact your veterinarian for a pregnancy exam to schedule the c-section.

Should I help my dog when she’s in labor?

It is best to leave a female dog alone and simply provide a comfortable and warm spot for her to lie for “whelping, ” or give birth. Dogs can stop giving birth at will if they are alarmed, so you should make sure she is in a quiet and secure place for delivery. The puppies will be born covered by a membrane that most dogs will rupture with their teeth.

How do I prepare for puppies’ arrival?

In the months leading up to whelping, there is not much you need to do for your expecting mother besides ensuring she continues to receive a good, healthy diet of dog food. You should encourage her to exercise so she is in good physical shape for the birthing process and put the mother on a calcium supplement to help aid in milk production in the weeks leading up to whelping.

Days before your dog gives birth, she’ll probably start acting restless and scratching at the ground or in her bed. She’s trying to make a nest for the delivery. Ideally, you should provide her with an enclosure, preferably something she is able to come and go from, but will keep the puppies confined. The nest should be placed in a dark, private, but easy to access location. Make sure she feels safe there. Other animals in the home need to be blocked off from access to it. Have replacement milk on hand just in case she runs into any milk  related issues

A cardboard box based on the size for your dog would work well, or you could consider a small children’s plastic pool. (You know the ones) Fill the enclosure with old towels, blankets or sheets. Don’t use anything you’re not comfortable tossing afterwards, as the labor process brings with it a mess.

If you know the day of conception your vet should be able to calculate a due date for you. Another way to keep track is to monitor the mother’s temperature when you think she’s getting close to going into labor. A dog’s temperature is usually around 101.1 degrees Fahrenheit. Her temperature will drop to below 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit just before giving birth.

Is my dog going into labor?

The most common signs of momma nearing labor are restlessness, panting, and digging. Often, there will be a dark green discharge from the vagina. This means the placenta has detached and momma is ready to give birth. If the discharge appears and your dog has still not had puppies after a few hours, contact your veterinarian for recommendations or assistance.

A mother dog can usually handle a birth completely on her own, even a first-time momma. She’ll deliver the puppies, take them out of the amniotic membrane, chew off the umbilical cord, and begin to clean them up.

How can I provide a helping hand to my dog?

If the new mother does not seem to know what to do, is exhausted, or is in the midst of delivering another puppy, there are a few things you can do. If the puppy isn’t already out, remove him from the membrane it’s encased in. Do this by gently tearing away the membrane covering the face of the puppy and rubbing the puppy with a clean towel. This helps the puppy to start breathing on their own.

If the mother isn’t removing the umbilical cord, you can do this. On each puppy, tie the umbilical cord about a ¼ of an inch from the puppy’s belly. Then, use dental floss or a piece of string to cut the cord on the outer aspect of the tie (away from the puppy’s belly).

As your dog continues to whelp, keep each puppy with her. This ensures they stay warm and begin their bonding process. This also encourages them to start nursing once they are ready. If your dog is not staying near the puppies or seems to be rejecting them, you can fill a plastic bottle with warm water and place a thin towel over it to give them something warm to snuggle up to. However, you should allow them enough space to move away from it if they feel too warm.

Things you SHOULD NOT do during the whelping process:

  • Put your fingers in the birth canal (can cause trauma and infection)
  • Forcefully remove a puppy
  • Lift puppies by the umbilical cord
  • Use a heating pad (can cause burns)

Signs of Possible Complications

Dogs generally whelp without any problems. However, complications are possible. If you notice that your dog has had contractions for between 30 minutes and an hour without any puppy coming out, notify your veterinarian immediately. Do the same if you pick up on any indications of severe pain. If you’re sure more puppies are inside and more than four hours go by without any of them emerging, vet assistance is essential. If your dog gives off blackish-green vaginal discharge without delivering her pups in a time span of between three and four hours, vet help is also necessary.

To sever the umbilical cord, take a piece of sturdy thread and tie it tightly around the cord about an inch away from the puppy’s body. Tie another tight loop a little further down from the first loop then cut the cord with a pair of clean scissors.

Pinch the skin on the back of the puppy’s neck and try to get him to cry out. Crying will clear the fluid from the puppy’s airways. If you have a small eye-drop pipette, you can use it to gently suck out the fluid on the puppy’s nose.

When the delivery is over, encourage the mother to go outside to stretch her muscles and relieve herself. Clean up the towels and blankets and replace them with clean ones. Then leave the mother alone with her new puppies to nurse and bond.

My dog just gave birth… now what?

In conclusion, if your dog is pregnant, you will soon be welcoming some sweet puppies into your home and will also need to decide if you are keeping them or how to find them loving homes. Here are a few ideas about who to contact:

  • Your dog’s vet
  • Your friends and family
  • A trusted online community group (like Facebook)
  • Local pet store

Learn more from the experts at UPCO Wholesale Pet Supplies

Need help with your dog’s pregnancy? Have questions about what supplies you need for a successful delivery?

UPCO Wholesale Pet Supplies is a trusted resource for high quality pet supplies, friendly and knowledgeable service, and excellent resources to help you be the best person for your furry friend. We offer resources and supplies for dogs, cats, horses, birds, reptiles, and other small animals.

If your dog is pregnant, please don’t hesitate to contact our team and we can help.

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