A dog pregnancy, while quite short in length compared to a human pregnancy, is a time of great anticipation for dog owners and the expectant mother dog. From breeding to puppy birth, dog pregnancy is roughly two months in length, but comprises a number of physical and behavioral changes in the mother dog. It is important for dog owners to provide proper care for each stage of pregnancy and to prepare properly as puppy birth nears.
The average length of a dog pregnancy is 63 days, though anywhere between 55 and 70 days from the date of breeding is considered normal. Typically dogs that are pregnant with larger litters deliver earlier, while dogs with small litters deliver later in the normal range. While determining how many days a dog is pregnant is most accurate when based off of the date of ovulation, most dog owners use the date of breeding as a basis for their calculations since discovering the exact date of ovulation can be difficult.
A veterinarian can normally help determine how far along a dog is into her pregnancy if you are unsure of the date of ovulation or breeding. Ultrasound can identify puppy fetuses 21 to 24 days into your dog's pregnancy, while simple abdominal palpation can detect fetuses around the 35th day. Abdominal X-rays, considered the most accurate way to determine litter size, can be performed 45 days into your dog's pregnancy to confirm the presence of fetuses and detect any abnormalities.
For dog owners anticipating a dog pregnancy, symptoms usually evidence themselves according to a somewhat predictable pattern depending on how many days the dog is pregnant. Physical symptoms of dog pregnancy include nipple enlargement and darkening, a clear vaginal discharge, temporary loss of appetite followed by an increase in appetite and weight gain, and nesting or mothering behavior.
Knowing how many days a dog is pregnant helps dog owners to identify a dog pregnancy soon after breeding and provide proper care for their pregnant dog. Proper veterinarian and home care during a dog pregnancy helps to ensure the health and safety of both the mother dog and her developing puppies. During the gestation period, the mother dog should be fed premium adult dog food in the early weeks, followed by premium puppy food in the later weeks. Pregnant dogs should have constant access to fresh water, moderate exercise, and prenatal check-ups as advised by a veterinarian.
One of the most important benefits of knowing the length of a dog's pregnancy is the projection of whelping, or puppy birth. The rectal temperature of the pregnant dog will drop almost 2 degrees from the normal range of 100.5 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit within 24 hours of the onset of labor. Beginning at 58 days of pregnancy dog owners should begin taking the mother dog's temperature daily to identify the temperature drop and help the mother prepare for the delivery of her puppies.