I just got the news: I’m going to be a pooch grandparent! Besides being excited I am also scared. This is our first. There’s so much I don’t know about canine pregnancy.
If you are in the same boat, fear not because we’ll be looking at all things related to this like: How do I know when she’s pregnant? How long do dogs carry puppies? What about the birth? This will ensure the well-being of mom and her pups as well as your own piece of mind.
When Can Dogs Get Pregnant?
Female dogs can only get pregnant when they are on heat. Generally, this is biannually and occurs every 6 to 9 months for about 3 weeks. Do not be alarmed if a cycle is occasionally missed. It’s normal.
Vets recommend that dogs shouldn't get pregnant during their first heat cycle as this could stunt growth. However, the exception is if she gets her first cycle after a year old that its safe her to breed.
How Do I Know When My Dog Is On Heat?
Your dog’s vulva becomes swollen. There will be a bloody light pink discharge. Males will naturally be drawn to her more but she will not really pay them attention until after the first stage which lasts 6 to 11 days.
It is only in the 2nd stage that she becomes fertile and is ready for mating when her eggs are released. An indication is that her discharge will change in color to a golden sand shade. Her posture will change as she is then ready to receive the male and will be showing them her interest at this point.
This stage lasts about 5 to 9 days but it is not uncommon for some breeds to remain at this stage for almost twice as long
How Can I Tell If My Dogs Is Pregnant?
Your dog will exhibit the following signs when she is pregnant:
- Her nipples will grow from the swelling of the glands and tissues in preparation for milk reproduction.
- She will gain weight.
- Initially, she may experience the doggy equivalent of morning sickness by vomiting and will eat very little or not at all. This can stay consistent throughout the pregnancy or she could begin to eat more than usual. Don’t force her to eat but make sure food is available.
- She may sleep more and be less active than normal.
- There will be behavioral changes. She may crave more attention and give more affection or prefer to be left alone.
- There may be an odorless milky discharge.
How Can I Confirm Her Pregnancy?
If your dog has exhibited all or some of the signs of pregnancy and you would like to confirm her pregnancy especially if she hasn’t been intentionally bred, take her to the vet.
He/she will examine her uterus and conduct a blood test or ultrasound. The latter will also help you in determining when the pups are due if you are not sure when they were conceived.
There are doggy pregnancy kits available too.
How Long Do Dogs Carry Puppies?
Dogs carry puppies for 58 to 65 days with the average birth occurring on the 63rd day. Larger dogs carry for shorter periods of time than smaller breeds.
Please note that if your dog goes into labor earlier than 58 days that the pups may be premature. They will have characteristic bright pink paws and be hairless. Unfortunately, they may be stillborn or not survive if their lungs have not developed properly.
How Many Puppies in a Litter?
Again, this will depend on the size and breed of your dog. A litter can range from one puppy to over a dozen.
What Should I Do to Help My Dog During Her Pregnancy?
- Be attentive to your mommy-to-be.
- Make sure that you feed her premium dog food as this will already contain everything that her body and her growing pups need.
- It’s not always necessary to give her additional supplements. This may be needed when she starts lactating but it’s always best to ask your vet.
- Rather feed her small servings each day instead of two big meals.
- Ensure that she gets enough exercise. It should not be too strenuous though. This will help to keep her healthy, prevent excessive weight gain and improve muscle tone and blood circulation.
- You can gradually introduce small amounts of puppy food into her diet and increase it weekly. Ideally, in the last week of gestation, she should be eating only puppy food.
- As the due date encroaches, try not to pick her up too often.
- If your dog’s pregnancy lasts for more than 65 days, take her to the doggy doctor immediately. Bear in mind that very small dogs can carry puppies for a day or two longer.
What should I Do to Prepare For Birth?
Two weeks before the excepted delivery you can prepare a whelping box . Use old towels, blankets or sawdust for this nesting area.
Is A Home Birth Safe?
To be honest, this is the part that has me the most stressed. Rest at ease because your dog’s instinct will kick in.
So yes, a home birth is safe and you do not need to be at the vet although you should keep his/her number handy in case of complications. Ask your vet for any advice or tips.
If this is your first doggy birth, asking an experienced friend to assist is not a bad idea.
What Should I Do During Birth?
- Don’t intervene unless absolutely necessary. Let nature take its course.
- Keep small children away and create a quiet atmosphere.
- Reassure your dog by using a calm, soft tone.
- Don’t panic if pups come out butt first. This is normal but you may gently want to help the pup along.
- If your dog doesn’t break the amniotic membrane and clean her pups by licking, wipe it off with a soft cloth and rub them to stimulate circulation.
What Should I Be Concerned During Birth?
You must seek medical assistance if:
- More than 4 hours pass between deliveries.
- Labor lasts for over 2 hours without birthing.
- A puppy gets stuck and cannot be removed.
- No puppies follow after the green or black discharge.
- Mommy is panting, trembling or vomiting excessively.
What Should I Do After Birth?
- Keep bedding clean.
- Monitor the pups and mom particularly how much milk is produced and for infection in the nipples.
- Pay extra attention to the runts and feed them separately to prevent malnutrition.
Congratulations pooch grandparent! Although the whole experience may be stressful, there is nothing much that beats the miracle of life and holding those babies in your arms. Remember that should you be placing the pups up for adoption that they will only be ready to be removed from mom after about 8 weeks.
Do you have any advice to would-be pup grandparents? Want to show us the newest additions to your family? Please share in the comments below.