Before your dog gets pregnant, you should know what signs to look for in a pregnant dog and what signs to watch for when she about ready to give birth. Signs are generally noticeable when your dog is going to have puppies within the next day or two. The gestation period for a dog is between 58 and 68 days with the average being about 63 days. With this in mind, you will have an idea when to watch for sings that the dog is getting ready to give birth.
Female dogs that are close to delivering will eat very little if at all. Some dogs will not want to eat, but you should still have food and water available so that she can eat or drink. Plenty of water should be provided since she is going to need it after the birthing.
The female will start preparing the nest. If you want her to have her puppies in a whelping box, show her where it is so that she can start nesting. Food and water should be moved close the nesting area so that she does not have to walk far to drink or eat. Keep in mind that some dogs will make their nest where they feel comfortable and it make not be in a whelping box. If the dog does start nesting somewhere that you find inappropriate, you can try to talk her into moving, but once she starts nesting, she may not want to leave.
The dog's temperature will drop from the normal temperature of between 100.0 degrees F and 102.5 degrees F to 99 degrees F or lower. Within 24 hours after the temperature drops, the bitch will go into the first stages of labor. At this time, if your dog has a lot of hair around the birthing canal, you should shave her and groom around the nipples so that the puppies can find the nipples if you have not done this already.
First Stage of Labor
After nesting and a change in eating habits and the temperature drop, you may notice that the dog is restless and licking herself as the cervix dilates. The bitch will start panting and straining. In some dogs, vomiting may occur once or twice, but if the dog keeps vomiting, it could be a more serious problem. Birthing will start within the next few hours.