Pregnant dog in a bed
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Dog pregnancy Signs: how to care and prepare your dog

By Daniel Mar Journalist

Updated on the

If you are encouraging your dog to have puppies, it is important to know about dog pregnancy signs. This is a very crucial period in any female dog’s life.

Female dogs tend to be pregnant for at least 60 days (usually 63). The countdown begins from the day a dog ovulates to the day the puppies decide to come out. After calculations are done, dogs are pregnant for three trimesters just like humans, the difference is that each one last for 21 days in dogs. If you are eager to have a pregnant dog, it is vital that you learn about dog pregnancy signs and care.

Preparation for the pregnancy

The only three things that you need to worry about at the start of this long process are breeding candidate, food and vet checkups. First, you need to make sure that your dog can get pregnant. It would also be useful if you knew beforehand about any genetic problem. Get this information from the breeding partner as well.

Puppies suffer a high risk of getting a genetic disease, so if you can help it, do it! Second, during this period, feed your dog with high-quality food. She will need a complete and balanced nutrition if she is to get pregnant. Also, try to maintain this same diet for as long as you can because it will improve her and her puppies’ health. Third, get a veterinarian for prenatal care (vaccines, deworming, and other tests).

Early dog pregnancy signs

How can you tell if a female dog is pregnant? Well, it is simple. During the first few weeks, you won’t see any substantial change in your dog since most changes take place within. In these early months, your dog will behave like usual, but she will begin to gain some weight.

After the 3rd and 4th week, your dog will start to be affected by morning sickness. Fortunately for her, it only lasts for two weeks, but it is a decisive tale-sign of pregnancy. Since your dog will undergo an extensive hormone change process, other dog pregnancy signs can be identified. Firstly, your pet will start to seem tired and she can also start to eat less. It is not unusual to see your dog vomiting from time to time. A great way to help your dog during this hormonal phase is to offer her small meals over the course of one day to compensate for the fatigue, the loss of appetite and the vomiting.

Later dog pregnancy signs

By the end of the second trimester, dog pregnancy signs are more evident. You will notice how your dog’s belly is much bigger. In addition to this, “her nipples and the surrounding area will become very large and swollen”, said Dr Pippa Elliott, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. When the end date is nearby, the breast will start to enlarge and they will begin to expel some milky fluid.

However, if after the first trimester you are still not seeing any dog pregnancy signs, you need to seek help. So, how to know if a dog is pregnant? Just go to the vet. According to Amy Flowers, DVM, regular visits to the vet are fundamental. Just like humans, dogs need to visit hospitals on occasions for X-ray consults. Your vet will normally carry out an X-ray in the first trimester to validate the pregnancy. Then at the start of the third trimester, when most dog pregnancy signs have been observed, you need to take your dog back to get another X-ray. Likewise, your vet may carry out an ultrasound to check the puppies’ bone structure. This is the best period to determine how many puppies are forming in your dog’s belly.

Get ready for the puppies!

The last trimester is very intense. As time passes, your dog’s belly will become even larger. Then, for the last 2 weeks of pregnancy, you can finally feel how the puppies are moving inside the belly.

Furthermore, there are some tasks that you need to carry out to make your dog's delivery process as comfortable as you can. Whelping, as it is called, can be quite messy and long. The first thing to do is get a whelping box. This offers a safe, warm and clean location for your dog to deliver her puppies. After you built (or buy) it, get your dog to get used to it. Then, as the final hour approaches, it is time to get the whelping supplies ready!

Here you have a list:

  1. Newspaper to cover up the whelping box.

  2. Non-skid bath mats for bedding your dog and puppies after whelping is done.

  3. Dry towels (clean up).

  4. Paper towels (clean up).

  5. Thermometer to check your dogs' temperature.

  6. Unwaxed dental floss to tie off the umbilical cord.

  7. Scissors to cut the umbilical cord.

  8. Hot water bottles to keep your puppies warm.

  9. Iodine to clean the puppies' abdomen after the cord is cut.

Whenever you see your dog getting ready to bring some puppies into the world, it is time to call your vet home. Your vet will determine if your dog can handle natural whelping or if a cesarean section (C-sections) is necessary.

Your dog will be the mother of wonderful puppies! ©Pixabay

If before reading this article you were asking yourself how do you know if a dog is pregnant, now you have the arguments to answer yourself. If your dog is about to get pregnant or in pregnancy already, take excellent care of her. Keep track of the dog pregnancy signs. Lastly, always bear in mind that at the end of pregnancy, there will be many cute puppies and a very proud mother. Help your dog to make this dream come true.

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