Chihuahuas are known for their small stature and bossy, big-dog personality. Although those little Chihuahua faces are quite expressive, if your little spitfire has recently gone into heat and mated, it can be hard to tell whether your dog is expecting a litter of equally adorable petite pups. Don't fret, though, because there are several signs for which you can look that will indicate whether or not your Chihuahua is pregnant.
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It's important to keep track of your Chihuahua's pregnancy because of this toy breed's extremely small stature. Your Chihuahua may need a cesarean section during delivery, so getting her the proper vet care she needs during her pregnancy and labor can ensure the health of mom and her babies.
Chihuahua pregnancy length
The average Chihuahua is pregnant for around 63 days, just like all other dog breeds. Unlike larger breeds, though, they tend to have much smaller litters. It's not unusual for a first-time Chihuahua mom to give birth to around three puppies, while a second-time mother may give birth to a larger litter of up to six pups. For the health of the mother, it's not recommended that a Chihuahua give birth more than four times in her life, with pregnancies separated by at least a year or two apart.
Early Chihuahua pregnancy stages
After mating, your Chihuahua likely won't start showing any signs of pregnancy until around the fourth week, or 25 to 30 days into the puppies' development. Some signs for which to look include:
- Weight gain
- Swollen nipples
- Swollen abdomen
- Behavioral changes
- Desire to make a nest
- Vaginal discharge
You might also notice that your Chihuahua becomes more affectionate or more irritable too. Fortunately, at around the one-month mark, you can visit the veterinarian, who can determine if your dog is pregnant with a blood test, by physically feeling the abdomen, or by an ultrasound to definitively know if a litter of pups is on the way.
Later Chihuahua pregnancy stages
Just over halfway into her pregnancy, you'll notice that your Chihuahua's appetite increases, and it's best to increase her portions up to twice as much as normal around this point in her pregnancy. By day 50, you may even see movement of the puppies in the abdomen.
Most importantly, you'll need to visit your veterinarian regularly to determine if your Chihuahua is healthy and if she will require a C-section. This is a surgical procedure in which your veterinarian will remove the puppies via an incision in her abdomen rather than through a traditional vaginal birth. C-sections are common in this breed due to their small size, and your vet can schedule this procedure well in advance to ensure the safety of mom and pups.
About a week before she gives birth, your vet will take X-rays that will determine when to schedule the procedure. Monitor your Chihuahua carefully during her last week of pregnancy. You'll know that your Chihuahua is about to give birth within 24 hours when her temperature drops a degree or more. In this case, contact your veterinarian immediately for assistance.
Potential complications for Chihuahua pregnancy
Unlike larger dog breeds, adult Chihuahuas only weigh around 6 pounds at most. This means that their tiny bodies may not be able to give birth to pups naturally. In addition, they are a brachycephalic breed due to their short snouts, meaning that there is a higher risk for complications during labor.
Chihuahuas, a toy breed, are at a much higher risk of eclampsia than other types of dogs during their later stages of pregnancy or right after they give birth. This is a life-threatening calcium deficiency that is caused by pregnancy in small dogs. It requires veterinary monitoring and possible calcium supplementation to prevent it. For all of these reasons, it's best not to allow your Chihuahua to give birth at home without veterinary intervention and assistance.
- National Canine Research Association of America: How Many Puppies Do Chihuahuas Usually Have In A Litter?
- Long Beach Animal Hospital: Caesarian C-Section
- American Kennel Club: How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
- American Kennel Club: Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Care, and Preparing for Puppies
- K9 Magazine: How Many Puppies Can a Chihuahua Have
- Trupanion: Caring for a Pregnant Dog