How Can I Tell If My Labrador Is Pregnant?

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Are you wondering if you have a one-month pregnant Labrador on your hands? Indeed, a dog's pregnancy cycle is so much shorter than a human's (just 63 days) that oftentimes, a pet can be pregnant, but the owner won't realize it until mere days before the due date. Cluing in to your mama dog's gestation is critical so you can give her and her puppies on board the right medical care.

Dogs are pregnant for just 63 days.
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Pregnant Lab signs

Early in canine gestation, a pregnant Lab may suddenly become uninterested in her favorite kibble. Like humans, Labs can experience morning sickness when they are carrying puppies. At about the halfway mark of the Labrador pregnancy cycle, your dog's nipples will become enlarged, which means her body's teats are getting ready to nurse a litter of puppies. A swollen belly, of course, is the next most obvious sign of a dog's pregnancy (look for it to feel full and firm at the midway point of gestation).

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Lethargy, sluggishness, and sleeping more than usual are other signs of a pregnant Lab. Less excitement at walk time and little energy to play fetch over and over are also to be expected when a dog is expecting. When your Labrador is pregnant, you may spy her making a nest for the puppies. Dogs are known to drag blankets or towels to an area and try to set them up for her puppies as well as scratch at their own beds in an attempt to make it larger for her family.

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Labrador pregnancy diagnostic tests

Examine your Labrador's teats.
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Since you can't exactly use a human pregnancy test to detect a Labrador pregnancy, you'll have to head to the vet's office for one or more accurate diagnostic tests. To start, your dog's doc will probably feel the abdomen, a process called palpation, to figure out whether individual fetal sacs are present (they feel like golf balls).

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The vet may also order an ultrasound to listen for tiny puppy heartbeats or an X-ray to count the number of dogs in the upcoming litter. Your pet's vet may take a blood sample to see if your dog is making the hormone relaxin. When it's present, it's a sure sign of a Labrador pregnancy.

Pregnant Lab care at home

A one-month pregnant Labrador requires good nutrition, the right amount of exercise, and regular vet visits to ensure her puppies are born hale and hearty. To that end, don't load up on kibble servings or extra wet cans the minute you find you have a pregnant Lab at home. It's better, in fact, to keep your pregnant Lab's diet the same for the first two-thirds of her gestation and then up the amount you give her in the last weeks until she's consuming 35 to 50 percent of her usual portion.

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Your regular outings to the park and dog run are fine until your dog's belly is on the large side. At this point, ease off on any strenuous activity and let her set the pace. Your best bet is to offer shorter and more frequent walks as she nears her p-day (yup, we said it — puppy day). Up-to-date inoculations are important for an expectant dog, as are regular checkups to note her health and that of her puppies.

Getting ready for puppies

Your dog may prepare a nest.
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Of course, a Labrador pregnancy ends with the birth of super-sweet puppies, and a pet owner is smart to lay in supplies for this big event. A kiddie swimming pool that's lined with old towels and bath mats makes a good whelping box, and you'll need paper towels to clean off the pups once they emerge. Lastly, keep your vet's number handy in case the birth process slows down or if you notice there's one fewer placenta than puppies in the end (there should be one per puppy).

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