If you’re considering breeding your dog, or it simply happened on accident, it is important to read the facts beforehand to fully understand what you and your dog will go through during this time. If you’re wondering how long a dog is pregnant for – a dog pregnancy will last up to 65 days, and your dog will experience many changes in her body. It is your job as her owner to help her along during this time.
It is important to understand the facts, risks, and benefits involved in breeding your dog. For a first time breeder, it is best to be fully prepared for your dog’s puppies before the birthing stage even begins. Knowing how to treat your dog in heat, what symptoms to look for during pregnancy and how to handle the actual birth is extremely imperative for both your dog’s life and the lives of her puppies.
The pregnancy process for a dog can be very exciting and even a little overwhelming for some. It is a very time consuming process and it is very important to understand what you are doing in order to ensure a healthy and smooth birth of your dog’s puppies.
From understanding the heat process to diagnosing pregnancy symptoms, Crittersitca provides an in-depth look at dog pregnancy. We provide information about the pregnancy cycle with an informative calendar, as well as information about how to properly prepare your dog during different stages of her pregnancy.
Our mission is to inform readers about the miracle of birth. We provide information on how to determine a false pregnancy from a real one, and how to get your dog tested for pregnancy.
We understand that this can be a stressful time for you and your dog, but with the correct knowledge and preparedness, we believe it can go easily and stress-free. It is important to keep your dog healthy and happy during this very exciting time of her life.
Female Dog in Heat
Estrus (also known as ‘heat’) is the period when females mate. Dogs have their first estrous cycle between 6-12 months of age. Although it varies from dog to dog, most females will go into heat twice a year.
While your dog is in heat, she will release a hormone to attract males. Dogs in heat may become emotional easily as well. It is important to be patient and understanding of her situation during this time.
It is advised to keep children and other animals away from a dog in heat, as she may have a short temper during this time. Be sure that your dog has all her up to date shots and vaccinations before breeding, as this helps to avoid any secondary diseases and illness during pregnancy.
Dog in Heat Cycle
- Proestrus – This begins with vaginal bleeding. It will last anywhere from 4 to 9 days, depending on the breed of dog. Smaller dogs have quicker heat cycles than large breed dogs. Some symptoms of proestrus may be increased urination and swelling in the genital region. Females will not yet mate with males.
- Estrus – This is the time when the female will mate with a male companion. The vaginal bleeding will slow and may become a brown or yellow color. This stage can last anywhere from 4 to 14 days. This is known as the ovulation period. If you do not wish to breed your dog, it is important to have her spayed before the Estrus stage. Some veterinarians will still perform the procedure during this time, but it is recommended to do it before.
- Diestrus – Your dog will stop discharging and the affectionate behavior towards males will stop. This stage will usually last between 6 weeks and 10 weeks. There will be many hormonal changes in your dog, and the uterine walls will thicken again to prepare for the next heat period. If your dog was successfully impregnated, her pregnancy will last around 60 to 65 days. This is also the stage where dogs may show symptoms of a false pregnancy if they weren’t impregnated during the Estrus stage.
- Anestrus – This is the final stage of a dog in the heat cycle. This when your dog’s symptoms subside and she goes back to normal. This stage will last between 60 and 90 days, depending on the breed of dog. There will be no hormonal activity, interest in mating or discharge. If she had become pregnant, she would already have had her litter and begin mothering her pups.
How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat?
The heat period will average for about 20 days, but it can vary from dog to dog. Conception usually happens within halfway through. Females will allow breeding between 10 to 16 days after her cycle begins. If you don’t want your dog to become pregnant, it is best to keep her inside the home, or away from males for at least a month to be safe.
Recording your dog’s cycle will help to track when she will be in heat. Usually, your dog’s heat cycle will stay the same throughout her life.
What to do During Your Dog’s Heat Cycle
Some things to keep in mind when your dog is in heat:
- Purchase doggy diapers. This will help prevent blood stains on the floors during her proestrus period. Doggy diapers can range from extra small to extra large.
- Keep males away from your dog during her time in heat, unless you have a mate prepared for her. If she is an outdoor dog, it is recommended that you bring her inside during her heat period to avoid a problem with male neighborhood dogs.
- Consider applying menthol under your dog’s tail to mask the hormone and keep males away. Menthol may also be applied to a male dog’s nose in the house to keep him from being exposed to the female’s hormone scent.
- Pay extra attention to your female while she’s in heat. She will likely feel anxious and needy. Don’t punish her for this behavior, be sensitive to her situation.
Dog Pregnancy Symptoms
How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant
It can be tricky to tell if your dog is pregnant during the early stages, especially if this your first time dealing with a dog pregnancy. Symptoms will become more obvious as she becomes more pregnant, but it is important to know what to look for during the early stages to ensure she has a safe and comfortable pregnancy.
If you do not wish to breed your dog during her heat cycle, it is very important to be cautious with her for the next few weeks. Keeping your dog indoors and away from male dogs is very important during this time. If you do not wish to ever breed your dog, you should consider spaying her. This will prevent her from becoming pregnant as well as prevent any symptoms of heat.
Dog in Heat Symptoms
Increased urination: This is to spread her scent and attract males for mating.
Swollen vulva: The amount of swelling changes from dog to dog. Your dog will likely be licking this area frequently.
Discharge and bleeding: Bleeding will begin during the proestrus stage and fade to an off-color discharge towards mating stage.
Male attraction: Your female dog will be releasing hormones to attract male dogs. The Male dogs may hang around your house and may try to mount her at any time during her heat period.
Whining or groaning: Your dog’s hormones may be a little off, and your dog may have mood swings. It is important to be patient with her during this time.
Signs of Dog Pregnancy
Some dogs will eat their food very quickly and seem to linger at their bowl wanting more. It is ok to feed your pregnant dog a little extra, but be sure not to overfeed her as this may cause health problems.
Because of her increase in appetite, three small meals may be given throughout the day rather than one large meal once a day. This will keep her full and ensure she is getting extra nutrients for her unborn pups.
This may be known as the dog version of morning sickness. Not all dogs experience a lack of appetite, but some dogs may eat less during the first few weeks of gestation. It is important not to force-feed her.
You can try adding a bit of bland human food to encourage eating, but most dogs won’t skip too many days without eating anyway. If your dog refuses to eat for more than a few days, be sure to contact your veterinarian right away.
Changes in your dog’s behavior may be different from dog to dog. Some dogs become extremely needy and crave attention and affection. Some dogs prefer to be left completely alone, unless they require your assistance, that is. It is important to cater to your dog’s behavior changes as best as possible.
If your dog is easily irritated, leave her be and avoid letting children or other animals near her until her behavior changes. If she is needy, pay extra attention to her and include soothing music and hair brushing or massaging.
Changes in the nipples
This includes growth and change in color. Nipple growth, or swelling, is a tell-tale sign your dog is pregnant. You should be able to see a growth in the nipples around two weeks after the mating process if she is pregnant. Breast material will develop beneath the nipples, which is preparation for future milk production.
The nipples will also change color slightly. Once your dog has become pregnant, the nipples will be a pink color and the area around the nipple may be flushed from increased blood flow.
Lack of energy
Much the same as pregnant women, dogs may experience fatigue during pregnancy. If you have an energetic dog who suddenly loses interest in activities, she may be pregnant. It is important to determine if your dog is actually pregnant, or if there is another illness in place.
Look for other symptoms along with lethargy to determine pregnancy. Always talk to your veterinarian if your dog has low energy for no apparent reason.
How Long Is A Dog Pregnant
A pregnant dog can be very exciting for dog owners. However, it is very important to be properly prepared for when your dog’s pups are expected. Being prepared is important for your dog as well as her puppies. There are many steps to preparing for your dog’s pregnancy. There is not a lot of time to get ready for the newborn puppies. This brings up a very common question: how long is a dog pregnant?
Knowing how long your dog is pregnant for and when she is due to give birth will help you to prepare a whelping box, look out for labour symptoms, and ensure a safe and healthy delivery for your dog and her puppies. The time to calculate begins when your dog’s heat period is halfway done, and she has started mating.
How Long Does a Dog Stay in Heat
Before a dog can become pregnant, she will have her heat stage. The heat stage will last for an average of 20 days. The heat stage could last a few days longer or a few days shorter, depending on the size and breed of the dog.
Small dogs usually begin heat earlier (around 4-6 months) than large breed dogs (around 8-9 months, sometimes as late as 24 months). Halfway through the cycle is when your dog will allow a male to mate with her, and therefore this is the time she may become pregnant.
Basically speaking, your dog will be in heat for 3 weeks and her heat cycle will repeat every 6-8 months. A female dog will go through heat cycles throughout their life and do not experience menopause. Eventually, their reproductive cycles will simply stop working with age. For more information about the heat cycle, visit our dog in heat page.
So How Long is a Dog Pregnant For?
The average time for any dog to be pregnant will be between 60-65 days or roughly 8-9 weeks. Once again, this depends on the size and breed. Smaller dogs have quicker pregnancies, which is not surprising since they are so small, and it can be hard on their bodies to hold even just two or three pups.
The easiest way to tell when your dog is due to give birth is to keep track of when she was mated. This way, you can tell roughly how long your dog is going to be pregnant.
The number of puppies your dog carries may also vary the time of labour. More puppies mean the length of pregnancy will be shorter, where as less puppies may mean the duration of pregnancy will be longer.
If in the event your dog does not go into labour during the last week, or she shows signs of struggle and discomfort but no labour around days 63-65, a C-section may be performed to help relieve her from the pups. If the pups are left too long, the birth may become very complicated and there may be health concerns for not only the mother but the pups as well.
Be sure to look for symptoms of labour such as nesting, whimpering, and loss of appetite.
Dog Pregnancy Calculator
Dog pregnancy calculators are a great way to calculate roughly how long your dog will be pregnant. However, this can be tricky because you need to know when your dog mated with her male companion. If her pregnancy is an accident, you may not know the exact date to expect.
To avoid any accidental pregnancies, it is a great idea to have your dog spayed.
Using a dog pregnancy calculator is very simple. All you need to do is enter the date of the first day your dog was bred. There are many different calculators available to use online. Most calculators will estimate a pregnancy period of about 59-65 days.
Calendar for Dog Pregnancy
It is important to keep a close eye on your dog’s heat cycle and when and how often she mates with her stud. This is important because it will be much easier for you to track her pregnancy to better prepare for the birth of her puppies. You will notice many changes in your dog’s behavior and body during this time.
Keep in mind that symptoms and changes in the behavior may vary from dog to dog. Smaller dogs have quicker gestation periods, and may not show all the symptoms you may be expecting. It is important to keep track of when your dog mated because a pregnancy calendar will be much more accurate and easier to read if you have exact dates. This way you can better prepare for your dog’s labour and the birth of her new puppies.
Keep a calendar marked on the days your dog mated. There are even online calculators as well as calendars that can determine roughly how far along your dog’s pregnancy is. These can help you along while your dog is pregnant if you are unsure of how to do it yourself.
Dog Pregnancy Calendar Week by Week
Week 1 – This is the end of your dog’s heat cycle and when mating begins. The sperm will take a few days to fertilize the eggs.
Week 2 – The fertilized eggs will travel to the uterus and implant. This is when you may notice emotional changes in your dog’s behavior.
Week 3 – The eggs begin to grow and develop. Your dog’s nipples may begin to change and swell, and the mood swings and needy behavior will increase.
Week 4 – Ultrasounds may determine whether your dog is pregnant, and how far along she is. This is usually determined around the 28th day of pregnancy. Your dog may become more hungry, so feeding her a few more times a day is recommended. The developing puppies will start to grow facial structure and spinal cords.
Week 5 – This is when your dog’s stomach will start to swell. The pup’s sex organs, legs, and paws will start to develop and grow.
Week 6 – Your dog may show signs of morning sickness and fluids may secrete from the vulva. Your dog may show signs of discomfort and restlessness. The puppies’ pigments develop and eyeballs and eyelids will have formed by this time.
Week 7 – Your dog will start producing milk. She will start to drag items around the house to form a whelping box. This is an excellent time for you to begin preparing for puppies. The puppies are almost fully developed by this time.
Week 8/9 – Your dog will appear uncomfortable and irritable. She will likely start nesting in her whelping box. This is normal behavior. The puppies are now fully developed and will be positioned for birth. Towards the end of week 8, start taking your dog’s temperature to tell when labor may begin. Once her temperature has dropped to 97 degrees, it’s time for puppies!
Tests for Pregnancy in Dogs
There are a few different ways you can test your dog for pregnancy. Some people prefer to purchase online test kits and perform the tests at home, but these do take practice. Most times, especially for a first-time breeder, a veterinarian will be able to help with dog pregnancy tests.
That being said, the most accurate way to tell if your dog is pregnant is to have a veterinarian perform a blood test or an X-ray. A blood test checks the hormone (called relaxin) level in the plasma. This can be both expensive and difficult for dog owners.
An X-ray will be able to not only tell if your dog is pregnant but how far along she is. It is important to note that you must wait 3 1/2 weeks before the vet can perform any sort of pregnancy test, or else the results will not be accurate.
It is also important to note that a human pregnancy test will not work on a dog. The hormones are different and the test will not read an accurate description.
Dog Pregnancy Test Kits
Although some people will argue that there is no specific test for dog pregnancy, you can purchase relaxin pregnancy test kits, which require blood samples done yourself. These kits can sometimes determine a real pregnancy from a false one. They work by measuring the level of relaxin developing in the placenta.
The only tricky part about the pregnancy kits is some require a blood draw and spin. Many people are uncomfortable with this or do not know how to do it properly, therefor the test may be inaccurate or useless.
Costs Involved with Dog Pregnancy Tests
The cost to have a pregnancy test performed on your dog may vary depending on size and other considerations. A blood test usually ranged from $50-90$, but they do need to be performed more than once (up to 5 times).
Pregnancy kits may cost between $100-$200, depending on the quality of the kit. You can talk to your veterinarian about kit options and there are many reviews online to help choose the best kit for you and your dog.
‘Whelping’ is simply the process of a mother giving birth to her puppies. The term ‘whelp’ is used to refer to a newborn puppy, who cannot see, hear, or regulate its own body temperature. Whelps will be nursed by their mother until they start weaning, or taking food from another source than its mother.
There are a number of steps you can take to ensure the whelping process goes well for your dog. This includes preparation of a whelping area, keeping an eye out for possible birthing problems, the labour, and after care of the newborn pups. It is important to be well informed before you decide to breed your dog. Always talk to your veterinarian if you are interested in breeding.
Dog Whelping Pre-labour Preparation
Calendar – Keep a calendar to better predict when your dog will go into labour. Generally, the gestation period will last between 60 and 65 days from the last day of their heat stage. Predicting your dog’s labour will help you better prepare for the birth of her puppies.
Temperature – Check your dog’s temperature regularly. This needs to be done rectally on a daily basis. You can check her temperature two or three times a day once she has reached between 7 and 8 weeks of pregnancy. Once her temperature drops under 100, it is very likely that her labour will start within the next 8 hours.
Delivery area and whelping box – Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior as the due date gets closer. She will likely be dragging blankets and other soft materials to a dark, quiet location to prepare for her birth. This is when a whelping box will be extremely beneficial for your dog as well as help you help her deliver her puppies.
Keep the whelping box around six inches tall on the sides, and fill it with old towels and blankets. Dogs prefer to give birth in dark locations, so choose an area with dim lighting such as a closet or basement.
Environment – Be sure that the area your dog will be delivering her pups is quiet and clean. It is important to keep the area as germ free as possible to ensure the survival of the pups. Try not to have more than two people in the room at a time to keep your dog calm during delivery.
Dog Whelping Labour
Labour will last between two and six hours. During this time, it is important to follow certain tips to ensure the labour goes as smoothly as possible.
- As soon as labour begins, your dog will show signs of restlessness and may whine and moan. She may reject food and water and may vomit or urinate frequently. She may pant and shiver, and may begin digging around her whelping box.
- It is important to note that you should leave the birthing process to your dog unless she shows signs of struggle. Your dog’s natural instincts should kick in and she will know what to do when it is time to deliver her pups.
- Once your dog has begun to birth the pups, keep a clean towel ready to handle the puppies and gently rub them to clean them off and help with breathing.
- Keep calm during this process, calming words and emotional support are very important during this time.
- Keep a dish of food and water ready for after she is done the whelping process. She may want to eat the placenta. This is a topic discussed by many breeders, some say it’s a good idea to replenish her body of nutrients she lost during the birth, and some say it may make her ill. It is up to you to decide whether your dog should consume the placentas.
The number one thing to note is that some newborn puppies may die after birth. This is called neonatal mortality. The first 18 hours of a newborn pup’s life is the most critical. Some things to keep in mind to ensure the pups become healthy are:
- Check the pups for abnormalities.
- Be sure the mother has enough milk to feed all of her puppies. If she doesn’t produce enough, consider using the store bought milk and offering it to the puppies who don’t seem to be getting fed enough.
- Leave the mother alone to work. The only time you should interject is if you notice any rejections or the puppies aren’t doing well.
- Weigh the puppies for the first few days. They should be slowly gaining weight. If one is not, he may not be getting enough milk.
- Take the puppies’ temperatures. Healthy pups should be between 97 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
When to Call the Vet
If you notice your dog struggling during labour, or appearing to be exhausted and yelping, one of the puppies may be caught in the birth canal. It is important to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately to have a C-section performed right away.
Sometimes there is abnormal discharge during birth. If you notice a large amount of discharge or blood before any puppies are born, call your veterinarian.
If there is a shortage of Calcium in your dog’s bloodstream, she may develop something called Eclampsia. She may develop seizure-like symptoms. Call your vet immediately if this occurs as well.
If you do not plan on breeding your dog, or you do not want any accidents, spaying your dog is the most responsible thing to do. Spaying, or technically known as ovariohysterectomy, is an abdominal surgery performed under anesthesia.
Male dogs have a surgery called neutering, which is basically the same process as spaying a female; taking away the reproductive organs. It has many health benefits for your dog, and helps to control the overpopulation of dogs.
It is known that over four million cats and dogs are euthanized each year because of over population in shelters. Spaying your dog helps reduce this number and is very responsible for your community.
Surgery for Spaying Your Dog
Dogs are normally spayed at around 6 months of age, and it is recommended that you have your dog spayed before her first heat period.
Dog’s food and water will be taken away the night before and morning of her scheduled surgery. Your dog’s tummy will be shaved and cleaned before the incisions. During the process, your dog will be monitored by vet assistants throughout the whole time of her surgery. The veterinarian will remove both ovaries and the uterus as well. There will be stitches inside her, but they are safe and will disintegrate. Your dog’s stomach will be stitched together as well, and then she will be bandaged up.
This surgery ensures your dog will not have heat periods, and cannot become pregnant.
Benefits of Spaying Your Dog
There are many benefits to spaying your dog. The number one health benefit is that it helps to prevent ovarian cancer, uterine infections, breast cancers and more. It is known that one out of every four dogs that are not spayed will get terminal breast cancer.
Another benefit is that you will not have to deal with heat periods. This means your dog will not be irritable and needy, and she will not leak discharge or blood all over the house. She will not secrete the mating hormone, therefore taking her for walks and having male dogs around the house will not pose a risk for your dog.
As mentioned before, spaying your dog helps to control the over-population of animals. It is your job as a responsible pet owner to ensure your dog’s puppies are not sent to shelters because of an accidental pregnancy.
Things to Consider Regarding Dog Spaying
Although spay surgery is very common, some of the risks may include:
- Allergic reaction to anesthesia
- Secondary infection during surgery
- Negative effects of anesthesia in later years
- Swelling and soreness after surgery
- Infection during the healing process
- Urinary tract infections may be more common
- Allergic reaction to stitches
Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns for the spay surgery. Risks are very minimal, but may still occur as with any surgical procedure.
Catherine Bono is a blogger, who is passionate about dogs and cats. She created Crittersitca.com to shares her experience as she studies to become a qualified vet.