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Dog Pregnancy – Signs, Care, And Whelping Preparation Tips

Dog Pregnancy
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Dog Pregnancy Calculator And Timeline

Is your family in joy to welcome a newcomer? This is the right time for you to know more interesting and useful information about your little girl’s overwhelming experience.

Pregnancy is a stressful and rewarding period for the dogs as is for humans. With hormonal changes and unusual dizziness, all that she needs at this time is your care.

Don’t panic. In this article, let’s discuss the signs of pregnancy, food needs, early signs of labor. Let’s also check the possible labor complications and care during the time of whelping.

We presume you can manage your pregnant pooch with patience and care after you spend some time with us.


How Do I Know If My Dog Is Pregnant?

If you are breeding a dog, knowing whether it is pregnant is the foremost step. You can suspect this exciting news through a few common pregnancy symptoms.

Signs of Dog Pregnancy

Like humans, your canines will show the common signs of pregnancy such as weight gain, increase in appetite and enlargement in nipple size. But, you can’t notice these changes in her in the initial few weeks.

The pregnancy symptoms of your doggy will vary every week from her 3rd week of the gestation period. So, we have classified those symptoms as early and later signs for a quick read.

Early Signs

  • Morning sickness (3rd to 4th week) – Some dogs may experience this (i.e. vomiting and nausea) during days 21 to 25 due to hormonal changes. You may also see her feeling tired and eat less than usual.
  • Showing belly (4th week) – Your canine may show her belly at the 4th week of gestation. The experienced veterinarians can feel the dog’s belly and confirm the pregnancy this week.
  • Mucoid discharge (5th week) – You can notice that your doggy is discharging a clear, mucoid from her vulva around day 30.

Later Signs

  • Large, darker nipples (6th week) – Your dog’s belly will become big around day 40 of gestation. Your canine’s teats will also become larger, erected and pink in color due to the increase in blood supply.
  • Enlarged abdomen and movement of puppies (7th to 9th week) – The 7th to 9th week of gestation period is the last trimester of your doggy. During this time period, she will have an enlarged abdomen and it may sway when she walks. You can also see and even feel the movement of puppies inside the belly of your dog during these last 2 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Enlargement of breast and milky fluid – If your doggy is nearing the due date, the breasts will enlarge further and a little amount of milky fluid will also come out from the breasts.

Dog Pregnancy Tests

But, not only pregnancy but also other health conditions can lead to weight gain, changes in appetite and a swollen abdomen. So, if you want to confirm the pregnancy in your doggy at home, you can do it with the help of dog pregnancy test kits.

You can buy these kits online or from pet pharmacies. But, they require blood samples of your dog. And, you always have to do the home pregnancy test for your canine around 21 to 25 days after conception.

Before using these kits, first, calm down your dog and extract some blood using a syringe. Then, centrifuge the blood to separate the plasma, an essential thing for the kit. The kits will take 10 minutes to tell you about your dog’s pregnancy.

Canine Pregnancy Test Kits

This kit is a new invention, available online and does not require refrigeration. Take the blood sample of your doggy and centrifuge it to separate the plasma. With the help of plasma, you can complete the test.

It detects the relaxin hormones in the biological samples of your doggy during the implantation stage of the fertilized egg. This kit is also helpful to detect the pregnancy in your dog before and after abortion.

Breeders consider dog pregnancy test kits as the fast, accurate and reliable methods to detect pregnancy in their canines. But, the kits may provide false results at times. So, it is advisable to take your doggy to the vet to confirm pregnancy.

If you know the date your dog was bred and you suspect that it may be pregnant, take it to the vet 3 weeks after the suspected day of conception. The vet will do the following tests to confirm pregnancy in your doggy.

Blood tests – Pregnant dogs will have elevated levels of a hormone named “relaxing”. So, the veterinarian is able to detect pregnancy in your dog by noticing the relaxin levels through blood tests. This test is generally taken at the time of 21 to 25 days during gestation.

Abdominal palpation – The vet will do abdominal palpation around 28th day to confirm pregnancy in dogs. During this stage, puppies will be in the size of grapes or golf balls based on the dog’s size. These balls are nothing but fluid-filled sacks that surround the fetus.

As abdominal palpation may lead those sacks to lose their shape after 1 month, it is essential to take your dog to the vet at a proper time.

Ultrasound examination – The vet will also do an ultrasound examination between 25 and 35 days to check for pregnancy. This examination will also help the vet to provide information about the number of puppies.

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

If you are breeding a dog, it is vital to know how long it will be pregnant. This information will help you to plan for checkups with vet, emergencies and whelping.

Luckily, dogs have a shorter gestation period for about ~63 days (that is 9 weeks or 2 months) from conception. But, this period may vary by a few days because of the difficulty to determine conception in dogs.

So, your vet will tell you accurately about the pregnancy period of your doggy. Also, a few tools are available to know the approximate due date of your doggy.

Dog Pregnancy Calendar

It is a handy tool that helps you to calculate the due date of your canine. You can find the approximate date when your bitch is going to deliver a litter of puppies. This tool also has the dates of a leap year.

Canine Pregnancy Calculator

This tool will also help you to find the due date of your dog’s pregnancy. You have to simply enter the date of first mating to get the estimated due date. You’ll also get a detailed calendar that tells you about week-by-week expectations of your canine gestation.

Dog Pregnancy Care

Once you know about the exciting news, you should make yourself ready to take care of your canine from that moment. It is essential to remember and ensure the nutritional and exercise needs, grooming requirements and the veterinary checkups when your dog is pregnant.

You can also talk about these special needs and care of your doggy with the vet and get his consultation. The vet’s advice will give you a clear idea about caring for your canine during gestation.

Pregnant Dog Food

Your pregnant pooch needs more calories and nutrients during pregnancy. It needs twice the amount of calorie intake than normal. Your dog also needs vitamin supplements.

So, you can feed:

  • Fresh bones – It helps for the bone growth of dogs.
  • Organ meat (liver, spleen, kidneys) – Ensure that you include 10 to 15% of organ meat in your dog’s diet as it is nutritious rich for your pooch.
  • Heart muscle – Contains a high amount of folic acid.

Your canine will eat normally during the initial weeks of gestation. But, its nutritional needs will differ when it undergoes different stages of pregnancy. So, let’s discuss what you have to feed her at each stage of pregnancy.

Week 5 – Increase food quantity

You have to increase the food quantity by ~20 to 30%.

Week 6 – Increase fat content and reduce bone content

  • As the pups are growing inside your dog’s belly, its stomach will shrink at this stage of pregnancy. So, you have to increase the fat content and reduce the bone content of its diet.
  • You have also to decrease the quantity of food and increase the feeding times.
  • Feeding boneless meats to your canine is the best option to reduce the bone content. The suitable foods are red meats such as beef, pork, and turkey. Beef mince will give him more energy.

Week 8 to 9No bones and gradual change in food quantity

  • You have to gradually increase the food quantity. At week 8, she will consume food 50% more than what she consumed before gestation.
  • You should not feed bone content at this stage of pregnancy.
  • When your bitch is nearing her due date (i.e. week 9), she will eat less (i.e. 25 % consumed food previous week). So, you have to gradually decrease the food quantity at this stage.
  • Your dog will stop eating altogether a day or 2 days before whelping. So, you don’t need to worry about this.
Important note: When your pooch is pregnant, never feed bone meats even raw meats with bones to her!
  • The reason is your canine does not need more calcium during gestation. Also, the parathyroid gland takes calcium (already stored in your dog’s bones) to form the skeletons of puppies. The gland also increases the contraction of the heart and the uterus wall.
  • But, the parathyroid and calcium will control the strength during whelping, whereas oxytocin controls the duration and frequency of contractions at that time.
  • So, feeding too much calcium can eliminate the parathyroid (actually needed) at the time of labor.

Veterinary Visits

It is the most important thing in dog pregnancy. Your dog has to regularly visit the vet to stay healthy during gestation. Such regular visits will also help you to know about the signs of discomfort and illness in your canine at the initial stage itself.

But, your bitch should not be vaccinated during pregnancy. As emergencies can happen during gestation, consult the vet and get his advice about what to do at that time and set a plan with the family members and pet sitter.

Here’re a few things regarding vet visits when your dog is pregnant:

  • Your pregnant canine should go to the vet’s place most probably 2 times during the gestation period.
  • She may need to go to the vet for an ultrasound examination at day 21 of its gestation period. At day 45, the vet may take X-rays to know the size of puppies as well as their numbers.
  • If your canine has vaginal bleeding or discharge, consult the vet for advice. Also, if you notice any signs of illness, take her to the vet as soon as possible.

Exercise Needs For A Pregnant Dog

Your pregnant dog can do exercises. But, it shouldn’t do strenuous exercise from the 4th week of gestation. You can take her for a gentle walk for a shorter period of time until the last trimester.

It is better to get the vet’s advice for any questions or concerns regarding your dog’s health during gestation.

Grooming Your Pregnant Dog

You can groom the pregnant bitch, but be careful of its stomach area. Also, you have to take extraordinary care while grooming a pregnant dog:

  • Place your arm under the tail area behind hind legs and pick her. Don’t pick her by placing your arm under its abdomen.
  • Don’t put pressure on the belly area while grooming a momma d
  • Ensure that your dog has good footing so that she won’t slip and injure her pelvis or abdominal area.
  • Watch your dog’s mood swings and take precautions if she is aggressive or agitated.

Now, let’s see a few tips to groom her during pregnancy.

Brushing – You can brush her coat using a soft brush instead of a stiff bristled brush to remove debris. And, don’t put pressure on the abdomen.

Bathing – Pick your canine carefully and place her in a safe, secure bath so that she can’t jump out of it. Bath your pregnant canine with care and don’t put much pressure on its abdomen. The bathing frequency will vary based on the dog breed.

Dry – After bathing, carefully make her coat dry by gently rubbing your dog using a clean and dry towel. Always avoid putting pressure on the abdomen or near mammary glands.

Trim – You have to carefully trim the long or excess hair around genitals, anus, and teats in order to prevent contamination during whelping and make the nursing easy.

Dog Labor Complications

Watching the signs of labor and take necessary actions is the most crucial task in dog care during gestation. Some dogs will go to labor well before the due date and some will go too slow. So, you must know the early signs of labor as well as the complications during labor.

Early signs of Dog Labor

You can know that she is going to labor soon through a few symptoms. Once you watch these signs, you should contact the veterinarian, especially if your dog shows these signs a day or two before the due date.

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Whining
  • Drop in body temperature
  • Lying on side
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils or staring
  • Vaginal discharge and bleeding

Dogs will have early contractions mostly because of the genetic and developmental abnormalities, birth defects and eggs or sperm with reduced fertility.

She can also have the contractions too early because of the health issues such as hypothyroidism, progesterone deficiency, structural abnormalities in the uterus, exposure to drugs or toxic compounds, nutritional deficiency, stress, and bacterial infections.

Things may go wrong while your pooch delivers a litter of puppies. So, it is crucial to know the warning signs of labor.

Extreme pain – Labor is surely an uncomfortable experience for your dog. But, if she is having extreme pain and show signs of discomfort, call the vet immediately.

Collapsing, trembling or shivering – These are the warning signs of labor complications and may lead her and the puppies at risk. So, call your vet and inform him about the immediate attention.

Strong contractions – If she experiences contractions that last for more than 45 minutes without the birth of puppies, immediately call the vet.

Dark green or bloody fluid – Dogs normally deliver a dark green or bloody fluid after they deliver the first puppy. But, if she is having this discharge before delivery, call the veterinarian for immediate attention.

No signs of whelping – Some dogs slowly go into labor. But, you have to call the vet if she does not show any signs of whelping 64 days after conception.

Dog Pregnancy Timeline

As a dog parent or a dog breeder, pregnancy in your pooch may be a new experience for you! So, it is essential to know the week-by-week hormonal and developmental changes in your dog. Timeline chart will help you to get this information.

As dogs have a shorter gestation period of 63 days, this period may extend by a week due to various reasons. So, you have to know when to make arrangements for whelping.

Let’s look at the information!

Dog Pregnancy Timelines

Week 1 (days 0 to 7): Hurray! This is the fertilization time for your pooch. Fertilization will start in your dog immediately after ovulation and mating.

After fertilization, the fertilized egg will travel to the uterine horns on the 7th day from conception. Your dog won’t show any pregnancy signs at this stage.

Week 2 (days 8 to 14): The fertilized egg will successfully reach the uterus during this week. So, you can see slight changes in your dog’s behavior!

Week 3 (days 15 to 21): This week is an important phase of pregnancy in your dog. On the 16th day, the fertilized egg will embed in the uterus lining and continue to develop from there throughout gestation.

Your doggy will show the development of breast tissues as the first physical sign of pregnancy. She may vomit and have nausea around day 21.

Week 4 (days 22 to 28): The embryo will get its shape by day 22 of the gestation period. Puppies get their facial features at this stage and spinal cord will develop.

Relaxin, the hormone, levels will increase in your dog! Her nipples will also get enlarged and it will have a clear and thin vaginal discharge. Appetite will increase in your dog as well.

So, take your bitch to the vet around day 25 to confirm pregnancy.

Week 5 (days 28 to 35): From this period, puppies will have rapid growth. The amniotic fluid present in the uterus will increase and pups will get their eyelids by day 32.

The puppies’ sex organs will also develop and their legs will grow further! So, she may vomit due to the increased pressure in the abdomen.

You can also see an increase in your dog’s weight. Her weight increases by 20 to 50% by day 40 of the gestation period. But, if you notice weight loss instead of weight gain in your pooch, take it to the vet immediately.

Week 6 (days 36 to 42): Your bitch will show her tummy and it is large too! Her nipples become darker and pink in color due to the increase in blood supply. Pigmentation will also develop in the puppies.

Your dog’s appetite will increase further! So, feed her with foods rich in minerals and proteins!

Week 7 (days 43 to 49): The puppies will be almost at the full growth stage during this period! So, take your dog to the vet to check for any worms.

Your dog’s abdomen will be firm and enlarged. It will shed its belly hair and feels tired. Your dog will also produce the nutrient “colostrums or breast milk.”

So, this is the right time for you to make arrangements for whelping!

Week 8 (days 49 to 57): Puppies’ movement will be visibly seen by day 50. Your dog may dig the whelping box to get ready for whelping. She will also discharge a milky fluid from her teats.

Week 9 (days 57 to 63): By day 58, puppies attain complete growth! So, the puppies may be born at any time from this period and you have to be well prepared for whelping.

Your bitch will be quiet and introvert. She won’t eat at all. Her body temperature will drop around days 61 to 62. So, take your dog’s temperature twice a day thereafter.

Body temperature will drop further to 97 degrees F 12 to 24 hours before whelping. She will pant, pace and become restless. These signs are the indication of labor signs in your dog! So, she may deliver the puppies in a matter of hours.

During birth, the puppies will come one after one!

Week 10 (63 to 69): It is the extended period of your dog’s pregnancy. You don’t get panic! Consult the veterinarian to check everything is fine with her!

Happy whelping!


If you are breeding a dog for the first time, you should talk to the vet if your pooch is pregnant in order to learn about your role during the labor. You can also talk to an experienced dog breeder about what to expect during whelping.

If you haven’t yet planned to have an experienced breeder on hand, you need to buy and assemble the necessary whelping supplies ahead of labor.

Below are a few common whelping supplies for your canine.

  • Whelping box
  • Simple bedding (not too plush) in an exercise pen
  • Whelping pads (to place in whelping box)
  • Whelping kit

It is more essential and helpful to have a checklist of whelping supplies beforehand.

  • Your vet’s phone number and a nearby emergency clinic’s contact number
  • Thermometer to check her temperature before whelping
  • Newspapers to line the whelping box during whelping for easy cleanup
  • Paper towels to help with clean up
  • Dry, clean towels to clean the puppies
  • A moderate heating pad or hot water bottle to keep the puppies warm
  • Non-skid bath mats for bedding after whelping is done
  • Clean scissors to cut the umbilical cords
  • Unwaxed dental floss to tie off the umbilical cords
  • Iodine to clean the puppies’ abdomens after the cord is cut and dab on the end of the cut umbilical cord
  • A baby scale in ounces

Whelping Box

If you want your dogs whelping be comfortable and hassle-free, you can do it with the help of a whelping box. It is a safe, comfortable, warm and easy to clean location for her to have her puppies.

You have to also set up the whelping box away from all other dogs and in a quiet area to give privacy to the momma dog. You can also purchase the whelping box from Amazon.

After setting up or built the whelping box, give some time for her to get accustomed to it. Else, she may decide some other place to deliver.

Whelping Kit

You can make your own whelping kit with the following things:

  • Digital thermometer
  • Aspiration bulb
  • Absorbent disposable pads
  • Disposable exam gloves
  • Locking hemostats
  • Hand towels and washcloths
  • Antiseptic (iodine/betadine)
  • Surgical scissors with blunt tips (stainless steel)
  • Rubbing alcohol

So, you can safely handle your canine’s labor with the help of whelping supplies and whelping checklist.

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