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How long are dogs pregnant for, varies as a dog’s pregnancy (gestation period) is usually from 58 to 68 days, with an average of 63 days, but vary slightly from breed to breed. If the pregnancy goes beyond 65 days you should contact your veterinarian immediately. You should also note that the day of ovulation is not always the same as the day of breeding.
Note: A lot of people refer to dogs as a species and for the purposes of this article “How long are dogs pregnant”, we will use the term dog for both male and female.
How can you tell when your dog is in season or in heat?
A female dog that isn’t desexed will display physical and behavioural changes when in season, such as:
- Enlargement or swelling of the vulva
- Some blood discharge from the vagina (usually called “spotting”)
- An increase in urination
- Favouring and licking the lower abdomen
- An increase in appetite
- Displays of affection
How will you know if your dog is pregnant?
Your veterinarian can usually detect a pregnancy between the 4th and 6th weeks by checking abdominal palpations. However this method of diagnosis may not be conclusive if your dog is tense or overweight during testing. In such cases an abdominal ultrasound scan can be used to detect how long a dog has been pregnant. Abdominal ultrasonography can detect puppies throughout a pregnancy, although for a more conclusive diagnosis most veterinarians will wait until 21 days has passed. Another test is to check relaxin levels in the blood at around 28 – 30 days. Relaxin is a hormone that will increase during pregnancy.
At home, you may also notice the following signs of pregnancy:
- An increase in body weight
- Enlargement of the abdomen
- Enlargement/reddening of the mammary glands
- The involuntary production of milk
- Morning sickness (usually lasts only a few days)
- Lethargy, apathy, lack of appetite
Four signs that your dog may be pregnant
- Monitor your dog’s appetite: Like humans, some dogs will actually have a reduced appetite during the early stages of gestation. If your dog appears uninterested in her food or is eating less than usual, she may be showing signs of pregnancy.
- Monitor your dog’s behaviour: Some dogs will display signs of morning sickness, which can include vomiting, listlessness and general signs of lethargy. If your usually energetic dog starts sleeping or resting more than usual, she may be showing signs of pregnancy.
- Monitor changes in your dog’s body: Enlargement of the nipples can be a good early sign of pregnancy. Nipple tissue can get thicker and nipples may begin to extend and droop.
- Have a vet check your dog’s relaxin levels: Relaxin is a hormone produced by pregnant dogs as early as three weeks into the gestation period. A blood test by a veterinarian will determine if relaxin is present or levels are increasing in your dog’s blood.
What should you feed your dog during pregnancy?
It is very important that your bitch be on a well balanced diet during pregnancy. A good quality, commercially prepared “complete” dry food is recommended. When using a complete food, you should avoid supplementing her diet with calcium or vitamins.
As her pregnancy advances, her pups will occupy more of her abdomen and naturally will demand more nourishment, resulting in your dog demanding a larger food intake. However this doesn’t always mean that she will eat larger meals – she may be more content to “graze” and have more frequent but smaller meals.
Can you vaccinate or worm your dog if pregnant?
If you know your dog is in season but has not yet mated, you should have her vaccinated prior to mating to ensure her pups will have maximum immunity.
Once you have confirmed that your dog is pregnant, you should administer an all-wormer/de-wormer at 4 weeks and again at 6 weeks. This is important to ensure she does not infect her newborn pups with worms.
More links relating to “How long are dogs pregnant?”
Vetwest – Pregnancy for Dogs
Dog Forums – How long are dogs pregnant?
wikiHow – How to tell if a dog is pregnant
LoveToKnow Dogs – How long are dogs pregnant?
Tags: birth, bitches, breeding, Dog, dogs, gestation, gestation period, in heat, in season, litter, newborn pups, on heat, pregnancy, pregnant, puppies, puppys