How Do You Know If Your Maltese Dog Is Pregnant?

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The prospect of adorable puppies in the house is exciting whether you have a Maltese pregnancy in the offing or you own another cute toy breed. There are some telltale dog pregnancy signs, including a swollen abdomen, increased appetite, and larger nipples, but determining whether a dog is actually expecting isn't easy for most pet owners, which means you may need to schedule a vet visit to be certain that your Maltese pregnancy is in fact real.

Small dogs may show pregnancy sooner than big dogs.
Image Credit: Raquel Artero/Moment/GettyImages

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Maltese pregnancy signs

Maltese pregnancy signs are similar to those seen in other breeds and may include a growing belly to accommodate multiple pups, a swollen vulva, larger and darker nipples that she'll use to feed them, and an increased appetite. Some expectant dogs also exhibit changes in their demeanor, such as more irritability or the opposite — a greater need for affection.

Canine diagnostic pregnancy tests

Are you not sure you can spot a Maltese pregnancy on your own? An appointment with your pet's vet can tell you for sure using four different methods, including palpation, which is when the doctor will palpate, or feel your dog's belly, to discern whether puppies are indeed growing inside (the vet can tell at the three to four week mark of pregnancy). A hormone test is another reliable diagnostic, but the Maltese pregnancy must be 30 days along for it to be considered accurate.

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Some pregnant dogs show a greater need for affection.
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A third method is an ultrasound, which can be performed between 25 and 35 days. This scan can determine whether you have a Maltese pregnancy at your house and if fetal heartbeats are present. By days 42 to 45 during your dog's gestation, an X-ray can also be ordered to see how many pups are on board. By day 55, your vet can count the exact number of puppies that will be born so you know how many to expect. In general, a dog's pregnancy lasts about 63 days from start to finish.

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Caring for your expectant Maltese

A healthy mama should deliver viable puppies, and you can help ensure a successful Maltese pregnancy with good care at home. You'll want to begin with your dog's nutrition, making sure she receives a quality diet. You can slowly increase the amount of food you give your pet during the last weeks of her pregnancy until she's eating 35 to 50 percent more (you can always ask the vet about the proper portions). Stick to your dog's normal exercise routine while she's expecting but slow the pace during the last trimester and be sure to keep the recommended vet appointments so your pet receives regular prenatal care.

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Getting ready for puppies

An ultrasound can be performed between 25 and 35 days.
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As the big day approaches, check in with your vet to learn whether he thinks your dog can bear her pups herself or if a cesarean should be scheduled ahead of time. If your pet will give birth without assistance, you'll want to prepare a whelping box, which is a special nest where she'll labor and deliver (a child's swimming pool is ideal). Set up the whelping box in a warm spot away from drafts and include the supplies you'll need, such as newspaper to line the pool, bath mats for bedding after the birth is over, and old towels for cleaning pups.

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If your dog doesn't sever the umbilical cords herself, you'll need a pair of small, sterilized scissors to do the job. A bulb syringe is also handy to clean out the puppies' nose and mouth as is iodine to dab on the pups' belly after the cords are cut. Keep your vet's number close by as well in case you run into complications or are concerned about your puppies' health.

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