The Stages of Pregnancy in a Bulldog

The privilege of caring for a mother dog as she gets ready to birth her litter can be one of the most rewarding things to witness as a pet owner. Whether you've bred your dog on purpose, or you've just found yourself the caretaker of an expectant mother, certain measures should be taken in order to give your dog and her puppies the best birth experience. If you are caring for a pregnant English bulldog, you'll want to be in close touch with your veterinarian throughout the process, as special measures may need to be taken at the time of delivery.

Man and dog in the park
The Stages of Pregnancy in a Bulldog
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Dog pregnancy stages

Regardless of the breed, dogs are pregnant for about two months, or 63 days, according to the American Kennel Club. Dogs have three trimesters, each of which lasts about 21 days.

The English bulldog gestation period begins as soon as the fertilized eggs travel to embed themselves in the lining of the uterine horn. A puppy's heartbeat can be detected within the first month of pregnancy, and by month two, recognizable puppies have begun to form. At the end of that month and often carrying over into the beginning of the third, those puppies will be ready to be delivered, at which point preparations should be made to ensure a safe and successful birth.

Pregnancy symptoms

Most dogs will display the same or similar dog pregnancy symptoms week by week.

During the first few weeks, you likely won't notice anything different about your dog other than possible weight gain, as most dogs rarely display pregnancy symptoms so early on, says WebMD. By week three or four, hormonal changes may make some dogs experience morning sickness.

If your dog is sick and vomiting in the mornings, it is suggested that your offer her more frequent smaller meals throughout the day rather than all at once. It's around this time that a veterinarian can locate the puppies, either through an ultrasound or by feeling her belly, the latter of which must be done with care because mishandling can lead to birth defects or miscarriage.

As your dog enters her third trimester, her belly will become noticeably larger, and her nipples will take on a darker color and begin to protrude. Her breasts will become bigger as her due date approaches and may leak a small amount of milk from time to time.

Between weeks six and eight, you may be able to see your dog's puppies moving inside of her as they prepare to be birthed. A veterinarian will then assess whether her birth canal is large enough to pass the litter. If it isn't, a C-section procedure should be scheduled to assist with the birth.

Pregnant English bulldog care

Caring for a pregnant dog is a big responsibility and one that should be taken on with insight, planning, and preparation. The first thing you'll want to do is consult with your veterinarian to discuss the proper diet for your specific dog, which will ensure a healthy mother and puppies throughout the pregnancy.

Adequate exercise is another important measure to take, which may help prepare her physically for the trauma that's about to come.

Like other dogs, a pregnant English bulldog will sometimes become restless and scratch at her surroundings, which Hill's Pet Nutrition assures is just her preparing a nest for her babies. To help her along, you may want to provide blankets or towels on which she can rest.

When it's time for your dog to give birth, create a den-like space for her to whelp her puppies. Common items include kiddie pools lined with sheets or towels or a large cardboard box lined and padded with washable blankets.