Owning an extra-large female dog who can tip the scales at 140 pounds may cause you to wonder if she can get any bigger when she's expecting. Indeed, the signs of a pregnant Great Dane will include extra weight, an increased appetite, signs of fatigue, and a swollen belly. Unless you're a seasoned breeder, you may not be able to spot all of these symptoms, which means scheduling an appointment with the vet is the best first step.
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Pregnant Great Dane signs
One of the first signs of a pregnant Great Dane is a change in her physical appearance, which means a larger abdomen that's firm to the touch. If you spy swelling on your pet, which for a pregnant Great Dane will occur by the fourth week of pregnancy, the veterinarian will palpate or press the area. At this point, he's searching for small, fluid-filled sacs. Diagnostic tests may also be run to confirm your dog's gestation, including an X-ray, ultrasound, or blood draw, which will check the level of a hormone called relaxin.
A change in appetite
How much and how often a dog eats is usually a good indicator of her health, and a pregnant Great Dane is no different. If your extra-large dog is expecting, you may notice a shift in her appetite. During the early days and weeks of pregnancy, some dogs may vomit and opt to eat less kibble. The reason is that a change in your dog's hormones can lead to decreased appetite during pregnancy. Still, be sure to focus on proper nutrition, as it's important during a dog's pregnancy that she receives the vitamins and minerals necessary to bear puppies.
As the last few weeks of her gestation arrive, your pregnant Great Dane will pack on some extra weight since her desire to chow down will shoot up. Ask the vet about how much food your dog should receive at this point, but as a general guideline, her intake should increase to about 35 to 50 percent of her usual serving.
Fatigue and exercise
An expectant dog may tire easily (it's a lot of work growing those puppies), so expect some fatigue or even lethargy in your pregnant Great Dane. Even a pooped pup needs her daily exercise, however. After the first couple of weeks of pregnancy, your dog can enjoy her normal exercise routine, including walks in the park or a bit of fetch with her favorite ball. During the last portion of her pregnancy, dial down the intensity of her outings and instead opt for shorter and more frequent sessions.
Great Dane labor stages
Is your pregnant Great Dane ready to give birth? After a typical gestation period of about 63 days, your dog will go into labor. The first stage lasts from 12 to 24 hours and consists of your dog enduring contractions. You may not realize they're happening at first, but you might note panting, restlessness, standoffish behavior, and possible vomiting. The second stage is when the action happens. The puppies are born one at a time, often one per hour, and the process is complete after about 24 hours.
The puppies' placentas are delivered during stage three. Be in touch with your dog's vet if it takes longer than a day for her to deliver her puppies or if more than two hours elapse between each puppy's arrival. You'll also want to keep track of the number of placentas that are delivered (one per pup), as a retained placenta inside the mother is a complication.