Dachshunds are popular for their long bodies, short legs and loyal dispositions. A pregnant dachshund requires extra care during her 63 to 65 day gestation period to provide the optimum growing environment necessary to produce healthy puppies. With the proper attention and veterinarian care, most dachshunds sail through pregnancy with few complications.
Signs of Pregnancy
Within a few days of mating, dachshunds may begin to show signs of pregnancy. The first externally noticeable sign is enlarged nipples. The pregnant female may also start eating more, but there will rarely be weight gain early in the pregnancy. Even with these early signs, breeders and dachshund owners should take their dog to the veterinarian to officially diagnose pregnancy. Dachshunds occasionally experience a false pregnancy in which the dog will exhibit swollen mammary glands, weight gain and sometimes even have morning sickness. Veterinarians can definitively diagnose pregnancy through a blood test.
By about a month after breeding a dachshund will have a clear vaginal discharge that only occurs in pregnancy. After about 6 weeks, the dachshund's nutritional requirements will increase. Owners should feed pregnant dachshunds about 50 percent more than before conceiving. Pregnant dachshunds need quality food that is high in protein. During the middle of the pregnancy the dog's abdomen may grow but there will likely be very little weight gain. Only dachshunds carrying a large litter will experience early weight gain.
The Final Days of Pregnancy
During the last week of pregnancy most dachshunds begin to gain weight rapidly. Their swollen bellies may make the dogs less active. Dachshunds carrying larger litters may deliver their puppies earlier than the normal length of gestation. The veterinarian may schedule an X-ray at 60 days to determine the number of fetuses the dachshund is carrying. Owners must vigilantly watch their dachshunds during the last week of pregnancy to look for impending signs of labor. Dachshunds will show diminished interest in food about 24 hours prior to whelping. The lack of appetite signals the owner to prepare for labor.
Some breeders and owners check their dachshund's temperature to monitor the start of labor. Many, but not all, dachshunds will experience a temperature decrease of about 1 degree from the normal temperature of 101 to 102.5 just a few hours before labor begins. The dachshund will experience some contractions and may repeated lick at her vulva in the hours before delivery. Owners may also observe the gray water sac the puppies are in as it presents through the vulva. The dog may bite at the water sac to break her water. Once the water breaks, delivery usually occurs within an hour. The first puppy is the most challenging to deliver and may cause the dog to moan and strain to deliver her puppy. Owners should call their veterinarian every 15 minutes to give updates on the mother's and puppies' progress.