A dog remains pregnant for sixty to sixty-five days. It’s important to know how to care for your pregnant dog and what to expect during delivery. Dr. Anna Coffin will tell you what to expect when your dog is pregnant.
There is no early pregnancy detection test for a pregnant dog. An abdominal ultrasound is the best method of detecting pregnancy and is most reliable after day twenty-eight. X-rays can also be done during the last two weeks of pregnancy to help determine the number and size of the puppies.
A Pregnant dog will begin to “show” some weight gain within 4-6 weeks of getting pregnant. Mammary gland development usually doesn’t begin until about a week before delivery.
A pregnant dog should be started on puppy food several weeks before them giving birth. Puppy food is higher in protein and calories which will help her maintain weight and produce plenty of milk for her babies. You should increase your dog’s food intake to 1 ½ times her normal amount by feeding small meals frequently during the last three weeks of pregnancy.
Do not supplement your dog’s food with any vitamins or minerals unless directed by your veterinarian. Certain vaccines and medications should not be given to your pregnant dog.
Your pregnant dog’s temperature will drop below 100 degrees Fahrenheit twenty-four hours before delivery. Around this time, she will begin displaying nesting behavior and may have some vaginal discharge. Most pregnant dogs naturally know what to do and usually do not need any assistance unless there are complications.
Once abdominal contractions start a baby will be on its way. Each baby will come out in its individual water sack followed shortly by the detached placenta. The mother dog should gently remove the sack and sever the umbilical cord. It’s normal for them to eat the afterbirth. If the pregnant dog does not remove the sack, you will need to gently remove the sac and cut the cord. There may be a short period of rest (30-60 minutes) in between each puppy being born.
How do I know if my pregnant dog needs help?
- The pregnancy has lasted more than sixty-five days.
- She is having strong contractions for more than 30 minutes, and you don’t see a puppy.
- It’s been longer than sixty minutes since the last puppy was delivered.
- A puppy is stuck in the birth canal for more than five minutes
- Any vaginal discharge that continues ten days after the puppies are
- The mother has a rectal temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit
- The mother is not eating, and lethargic after the puppies are born.
Dogs that are having trouble during birth often need a C-section. C-sections are expensive, and it’s important to be financially prepared in case there are problems. A C-section is an emergency and can save the life of your adult dog and her puppies. C-sections that need to occur after normal office hours can be difficult for solo general practitioners due to lack of personnel so your veterinarian may refer you to a 24-hour emergency clinic.