Dogs are angels that bring happiness and smile into our lives. Now, imagine the feeling you have when your furry friend gives birth to a new litter of puppies. Witnessing their birth and coming into this world brings incredible joy and a sense of accomplishment. But, how can I tell if my dog is pregnant? And how long do dogs stay pregnant?
In this article, we will learn everything you need to know about dog pregnancy.
How To Know If A Dog Is Pregnant?
We can easily determine the pregnancy in humans with pregnancy tests. However, determining pregnancy in dogs is a bit trickier. There are no convenient, instant pregnancy tests to tell if a female is pregnant.
You will have to visit the vet to determine if your dog is pregnant.
The vet can use these four methods to determine if your dog is pregnant.
Palpation is the cheapest and probably the most convenient method of determining the pregnancy. Three to four weeks since the beginning of the pregnancy, between 21st and 35th day, the vet can feel the sacs filled with fluid formed around the developing fetus. These sacs will lose their shape after one month of pregnancy.
Relaxin is a hormone released in the female’s body during pregnancy. The vets will perform tests to determine the presence of this hormone. If that is the case, your dog is pregnant. However, for this test to be accurate, the female must be pregnant for at least 30 days. On the contrary, the test can show a false negative.
An ultrasound is the best method for determining if your dog is pregnant. In addition to detecting pregnancy, ultrasound can also show if the fetus is still alive by monitoring its heartbeat. It is recommended that ultrasound should be performed between the 25th and 35th day of pregnancy.
X-ray is the most efficient in the later stages of pregnancy when the puppy skull and spine become visible. Therefore, the x-ray is generally used after the 55th day of pregnancy. X-ray is the best option to determine the number of puppies in the litter.
How Long Do Dogs Stay Pregnant?
The gestation period or length of pregnancy in dogs will, on average, last around 63 days from the moment of conception. However, it is quite hard to determine the duration of the pregnancy because we can’t accurately determine the moment of conception.
The sperm can live inside the female body for days, and the eggs are fertile for about two days. Therefore, it is hard to pinpoint the exact moment of conception or determine the duration of the gestation period.
Instead, breeders use blood tests and vaginal smears to monitor hormones and determine the length of pregnancy.
Three Stages Of Dog Pregnancy
There are three distinct stages of pregnancy in dogs. Each one is short and lasts around 30 days since puppies are developing quickly inside the womb.
By the 7th day of the first month, the embryos will travel to the uterine horns. Around the 16th day, they will embed themselves in the uterine lining. The fetus will start to rapidly develop, and by the 22nd day, it already begins to take shape, while around the 28th day, first heartbeats can be detected.
Signs of pregnancy during the first month:
- Morning sickness
- Enlarged nipples
- Vaginal discharge
- Increase in appetite
- Decreased activity levels
The second month of pregnancy is a period of rapid fetus development. Eyelids will for around 32nd day, claws around 40th day, and skeleton by 45th day. Around day 50, the vet will determine the size of the litter using an x-ray. By the end of the second month, the female will start looking for a good nesting place.
Signs of pregnancy during the second month:
- Changes in behavior
- Enlarged abdomen
- Increased appetite
- Huge weight gain (20% – 50%)
- Puppy movement in the abdomen can be observed
- Clear vaginal discharge
Around the 58th day, puppies have almost fully developed, and they start moving into the birth canal to assume their whelping positions. These are the last days of pregnancy, and the female is ready to give birth.
Signs of the last days of the pregnancy:
- Increase panting and shivering
- Appetite loss
- Drop in the temperature (12-24 hours before labor)
- Decrease in the size of the waist due to puppies moving into the birth canal
Dogs In Labor: How Long Does It Last?
With the end of pregnancy or gestation period, the labor begins. Labor also has three distinct stages.
During the first stage of labor, the frequency and strength of the contractions will increase. However, they will not be visible or noticeable. This stage lasts 12 to 24 hours.
Some of the most common symptoms of the first stage of labor are:
- Clear vaginal discharge
- Loss of appetite
- Restless behavior
Stage two is actually the stage where puppies are delivered. It can last from 1 to 24 hours. The female delivers puppies one at a time. Usually, it takes between one and two hours to deliver one puppy.
Stage three occurs at about the same time as stage two. And it will finish shortly after stage two ends. During this stage, the placenta is delivered, and the stage finishes with the delivery of all of the placentas.
Note that the dog’s labor should not last more than 24 hours. If this happens, call your vet immediately, as this can be a sign of potential complications.
Potential Dog Labor Complications
As is the case with humans, dogs can also experience labor complications. In case you notice something is wrong, call your vet as soon as possible. Labor complications present a serious risk to the mother and her puppies.
Symptoms of labor complications
- The frequency of delivering puppies is off (more than two hours between deliveries)
- Placentas are not delivered
- The rectal temperature of your dog has dropped more than 24 hours ago, but the labor hasn’t started
- Bloody or dark green fluid during delivery (this is ok for the first puppy only)
How long do dogs stay pregnant? Final Words
So, How long are dogs pregnant? Dogs stay pregnant for around 63 days from conception. However, it’s tricky to determine the exact length of the gestation period. It is very important to do the necessary tests and x-ray scans to determine the exact stage of the pregnancy and the number of puppies in the litter. By doing this, you can calculate how long your dog should be in labor and easily detect potential complications.