Many of us have spayed dogs. However, some of us end up taking in strays or decide not to fix our dogs for myriad reasons. (Remember how the Tanners ended up with Comet on Full House?) When that happens, there’s a pretty good chance that at some point in her life, your pooch princess is going to become pregnant. While experienced breeders are well-versed in what to look for after two of their canines mate, most of us have no idea what it’s like to have a preggo doggo or what dog pregnancy symptoms might serve as a sure sign our adorable dog is with pups. But, spoiler alert, there are definitely indicators that can clue you in to your dog’s expectant state.
Once we come to that realization, how do we know when she’s due? And what are we supposed to be doing for Winnie the Weimaraner when she’s “with puppies”? Obviously, you can find all those answers on the internet. More specifically: You can find them right here! Welcome to ScaryMommy’s guide to dog pregnancy.
What are some typical dog pregnancy symptoms?
Just like humans, when dogs are pregnant, there are some early and recognizable signs. Unlike humans, a dog’s gestation period is only around 58-68 days. That means those “early signs” happen way earlier for dogs than they do for humans. Here are a few things to look for if you’re watching for dog pregnancy.
Weeks 2 to 3
In the first few weeks of pregnancy, you might notice your dog’s nipples begin to enlarge and/or turn pinker than they typically are. Her body is already starting to prepare for feeding her pups.
Weeks 4 to 5
By about halfway through her pregnancy, your dog’s physical appearance will begin to change. Just as human mamas start to “fill out” midway through, so will your pooch. Look for her midsection to begin to bulge.
Are there any other dog pregnancy symptoms to know about?
Mood Swings/Change in Mood
If your otherwise cuddly dog is suddenly seeking more alone time, this is a big sign she’s pregnant. Of course, the opposite can also be true. Mamas, you know how it goes! If you remember any of your pregnancy meltdowns, you know things can be pretty volatile during this time. It might be a good idea to keep your kiddos and doggos separate for a while.
Decreased Energy Level
Helloooooo?! Mama Mutt is carrying from one to 12 pups inside her (most likely five to six). She’s tired.
Did you know that you can often tell a person needs a blood transfusion by checking their gums or under their eyelids? If the flesh is pale, it’s because there’s not enough blood circulating. You can check your dog’s gums with the same thought in mind. If your dog’s gums are white or much lighter than usual, it could be a sign pup fetuses are using some of her iron supply. Don’t worry, though; she’s fine. Her body knows how to adapt. But it’s still always a good idea to flag this with your dog’s vet, just in case.
Want to know for sure if your dog is pregnant?
It never hurts to take your pup to the vet. And, believe it or not, most vets can tell a dog is pregnant without even having to do expensive ultrasounds. A vet knows how to feel your pet’s abdomen and what it should feel like if she’s cookin’ up some puppies in there.
My dog is pregnant. Now what?
Good news! Unlike human pregnancy, not much needs to change for a pregnant dog. Vets recommend:
- Making sure your dog is on a diet of good, healthy food. Hopefully, that’s already the case. If not, you might want to upgrade. They also don’t recommend increasing food intake until your dog is further along. Once she’s about 3/4 of the way through her pregnancy (or when you see her starting to slow down), slowly adjust how much food you offer her.
- Taking your pregnant pooch on shorter but more frequent walks, especially as she gets further along.
- Keep your doggo isolated and inside your home. Toward the end of your dog’s pregnancy, it’s important to keep them separated from other dogs and animals. Also, keep all their walks and daily exercises inside the house. This will help them avoid becoming ill or coming into contact with parasites that can hurt their puppies. Some infections are so severe that they can lead to stillborn pups.
- Checking with your vet about deworming medication, as there are signs that using the medication towards the end of a pregnancy can help significantly reduce the risk of her pups getting roundworm or hookworm.
What are the signs your dog is going into labor?
Just like human mamas, mommy mutts also show signs just before giving birth to their babies. Nesting signs may become evident up to 48 hours before labor. Your dog may scratch at her bed, and its rectal temperature may drop below 100 degrees. Like human moms, pregnant dogs may begin pacing during their uterine contracting and pant and shake. Vomiting is also common.
My dog is in labor. What should I do?
Eventually, when your dog goes into labor, you’re going to need a few things to help it deliver its pups safely. Here are a few items to grab on the big day.
- A thermometer
- Absorbent disposable pads
- Surgical scissors
- Lots of towels
If you have more questions, set up a meeting with your dog’s vet or a dog breeder for more advice and information on what to expect.
Dog Pregnancy Calculator
Think you know when your girl might have gotten busy with the loose “pibble” from down the street? Know exactly when you gave your poodle and your lab the night to themselves for your next litter of doodles? Then, just like with human pregnancy, you can get a reasonably accurate calculation of when your next litter is due. You can do this on your own by counting out 63 days from when your dog was bred. Or you can use a handy-dandy dog pregnancy calculator like this one from Emergency Vet USA.
Oh, yeah… congratulations on those new grandpuppies!
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