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When owning a female dog it is important to know the answer to questions like when does my dog go into heat? How long does the dog gestation period last or simply put how long are dogs pregnant? You should definitely also do your research on how to take care of your dog during their pregnancy. It is always better to be safe than sorry (of course, unless you decide to spay your dog).
How long are dogs pregnant?
To answer the question how long dogs are pregnant we first have to explain when female dogs get pregnant.
When can a dog get pregnant?
Have you ever heard a dog owner say that their dog is “in heat”? Well, that’s exactly the period when your dog can get pregnant! Dogs can only get pregnant when they come into season, which is let’s say once every eight months. This period is what dog owners mean when they say their dog is “in heat”. This period doesn’t last that long, your dog can be in heat for about three weeks, more precisely between 18 and 21 days.
How long does the pregnancy last?
The dog’s gestation period or pregnancy lasts somewhere between 62 and 65 days, or around nine weeks. And in the first days (even weeks) you might not notice any change, except in weight! But when it comes to their behavior your dog will behave like their normal self.
Dog gestation week after week
Now that we know when your dog can get pregnant and how long the pregnancy lasts, let’s take a closer look at how your dog will change week after week.
The first week is of course considered to be the week when breeding occurs. This is when the female dog is receptive to the male. Usually, this happens somewhere between the 10th and 20th days into the female dog’s heat cycle, and her eggs are fertilized.
Fun fact: Because canine ovulation results in a number of eggs, it is possible for dogs to conceive with more than one father in the same litter of puppies! Crazy right?!
The dog’s uterus is shaped like the letter “Y”. So sfter the fertilization occurs, the puppy embryos travel into the horns of the dog’s uterus. This is where they embed into the uterine lining.
Remember when I said you might not notice any changes in your dogs even weeks after being with a male dog. Well, the third week is when embryo development occurs. This is also the period when you might notice the first changes in your dog’s behavior, or better said in their appetite and energy levels.
We’re already at week four! By the end of the fourth week, so between days 25 and 28 of gestation, is actually when the veterinarian can feel the growing embryos with their hands! Your vet can even detect heartbeats with an ultrasound! Isn’t this super exciting?!
As a dog owner, you must understand that this is a crucial period. Your dog’s appetite will increase significantly and it’s more important than ever to give your dog high-quality food. Your dog’s litter will from week four develop at a remarkable pace. And they will need all the nutrients they can get. So a lot of food and high-quality food is a must!
The period up until the fifth week of the pregnancy can be considered the first stage. With week five we enter the second stage of your dog’s pregnancy. This is also the week when you can refer to the yet-to-be-born puppies as fetuses. Your dog’s belly will become much bigger because the fetuses will grow a lot. Another thing you’ll notice I that your dog prefers to eat a lot of smaller meals during the day.
During the sixth week of pregnancy, the coats and skeletons of the fetuses are developing. It’s possible that your dog might feel a little uncomfortable. However, this is normal, and no reason to alarm the vet.
Week seven is pretty exciting and full of changes you’ll witness in your dog. For example, your dog’s breast tissue will be swollen, her nipples will become prominent and dark, and you may notice colostrum, a cloudy fluid known as “first milk” leaking from her nipples.
Besides this, your dog might start to shed the hair from her belly and you’ll be able to see and feel the fetuses move beneath her skin.
In week seven the puppies are fully developed! Yay! This is also the period when they will begin to move into position in the birth canal.
It’s possible that your dog starts showing signs of anxiety and be determined to find a safe, quiet place to deliver her litter. You can actually help your dog and ease her anxiety.
What you can do to help her is to help her build a safe nest by offering her clean blankets, towels (you don’t mind getting ruined), and/or newspapers in an enclosure that gives her privacy and comfort.
The puppies are almost here! Keep track of your dog’s temperature, once you notice a drop by a few degrees that’s a sign labor is very close! Usually labor will start within 24 hours.
The dog gestation period lasts between 62 and 65 days, so during this time you should give your dog your full support. Especially in the last few weeks. Also make changes in your dog’s diet. Improve your dog’s food by incorporating fruits and vegetables and fresh meat. Or if you don’t want to do that, buy high-quality kibble.