Just like you need to understand the process of human pregnancy to deliver a healthy baby, so you also need to understand the process of dog pregnancy to produce healthy puppies.
Dogs are only pregnant for about 63 days, so the whole pregnancy cycle of a dog is much faster than it is in humans.
Dog pregnancy symptoms
In the first couple of weeks, there are very few outward symptoms of your dog’s pregnancy. However, she might put on some weight and some dogs do get morning sickness. However, this will probably be only for a few days during the 3rd or 4th week of pregnancy.
If you think that your dog’s pregnant, then you can take her to the vet two or three weeks after mating. Your vet will probably take an ultrasound of your dog which will give him a picture of your dog’s womb. The vet might also take a blood test to determine her hormone levels.
When she’s pregnant, your dog will have elevated levels of the hormone called relaxin. If you wait until a later stage of pregnancy to take her to the vet, the vet can feel the babies through a physical exam.
At the end of the second trimester, your dog’s belly will enlarge. Also, her nipples will become larger and darker. As time goes on, her breasts will enlarge, and a little discharge may exude from them.
Stages of dog pregnancy
The following is a schedule that follows the stages of dog pregnancy week by week. You can use this dog pregnancy calendar to determine how you should be caring for your dog.
Dog pregnancy calendar
Your dog will ovulate and fertilization from the male sperm will occur. The count of the days of pregnancy begins from ovulation.
You can determine if your dog’s ovulating by checking her body temperature every day. During ovulation, her temperature will be higher.
You need to be on the watch for any infections that she may have contracted during mating.
A light pink discharge from the vagina might occur, but this is not a problem.
You might need to add a nutritional supplement to her diet. You should consult with your vet about any changes that need to be made.
In week two of your dog’s pregnancy, the cells that will become the puppies start to grow and separate. The embryos then move into the uterus for the rest of your dog’s gestation.
You need to make sure that she’s fed well and gets the exercise that she needs during this time.
In week three, the embryos start to implant in the uterus. The uterus provides the nutrients and life support that the puppies need to grow and stay alive. At this stage, the puppies are under a centimeter in length.
You should be feeding and exercising your dog as you always do. However, her appetite might increase and if it does, then you need to provide more food for her.
At this stage, you can gently feel for the puppies by touching her abdomen.
The eyes and spine of the fetuses will start to grow and their faces begin to take their shape.
Your dog’s teats may get larger and there may be a clear discharge from her vagina.
The fourth week is an important stage in the development in the puppies. Therefore, you might need to limit your dog’s exercise. Also, rough play should be discouraged.
You need to consult with your vet about any nutritional changes that need attention.
From week five onward, there is less of a chance that any defects will occur in the puppies’ development. The small features like toes and claws develop at this stage and also sexual characteristics.
The weight of your dog will increase at this stage, and you may need to feed her more food to satisfy her needs.
If you want to do an ultrasound to determine any issues with the puppies, it can be done at this stage.
At this stage, the pregnancy will become noticeable by sight. Her belly will become very large.
You need to make sure that you are giving enough food to satisfy her needs. You should ask your vet if it’s necessary to give her any supplements.
You should also begin to familiarize her with the bed that she will use for birth. It’s a good idea to encourage her to sleep there.
You shouldn’t worry about the fact that she’ll start shedding the hair on her belly at this stage. This is part of the preparations for birth.
The puppies are almost completely formed at this stage.
Since the puppies might be born at any time now, you should avoid any stimulation which might lead to an early birth. It’s better that the puppies are delivered at full term.
You should continue also to feed your dog as much food as she needs.
Birth can happen at any time now. Your dog might become more quiet towards the time of labor and it’s possible that there may be a drop in her appetite around this time.
You can take her temperature to see when the delivery will be imminent.
As we’ve seen with this look into dog pregnancy, you need to monitor your dog at all points in her gestation to see if she requires any changes in diet or the addition of supplements.
You will always need to exercise your dog, but at certain points this must be regulated.
It’s also important to have a bed or box ready for her delivery and that she should become comfortable and familiar with it.
With all of this in mind, your dog should have a healthy and successful pregnancy and delivery.
You should also make sure that you read up on what happens and what you need to do during your dog’s labor and delivery.