The Stages of Pregnancy in Pitbulls

You are the proud owner of a pit bull, but you aren't sure what a pit bull pregnancy looks like. Is it the same as a normal dog pregnancy, or are there differences because of the breed? You love your dog, and as she is on her way to becoming a mother, you want to make sure she's as comfortable as possible.

American pit bull dog
It's important to know the different stages of pregnancy for a pitbull so that they can be healthy as possible.
credit: chaivit/iStock/GettyImages

Learning about the different stages of a pit bull pregnancy as well as about pit bull labor and delivery will help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible, and mama and her pups are healthy and happy.

First stage: pit bulls in heat

Pit bull pregnancy is the same as any female dog's pregnancy. The first stage of a pit bull pregnancy involves your pit bull being in heat. Your dog will get her first period around six months of age. Dogs are usually in heat for two to three weeks, and during this time, they will be bleeding, and their vulva may swell.

It is also when they will attract male dogs, so it's important to keep them out of the dog park and protected inside the yard so they don't accidentally get pregnant. If you want a pregnant pit bull, this is when you would have the male dog breed with her. Ovulation happens early on or later on during the heat cycle. The male dog should be at least six months of age before you have him breed with your female dog.

Second stage: pit bull pregnancy

Like humans, it takes one month after conception to confirm that your pit bull is pregnant. If you suspect that you have a dog pregnancy on your hands, you can take your dog to the veterinarian to confirm it.

Some of the signs of dog pregnancy include decreased activity and changes in appetite. If your dog is sluggish, or she is not eating as much as she used to eat, then she may be in the early stages of pregnancy. This is because she's experiencing what is like morning sickness in humans. She may even vomit like a pregnant woman would. Later on in the pregnancy, your pit bull is going to be hungrier than usual.

Your pregnant pit bull's behavior may change as well. Perhaps she is cuddling up to you more often, or she wants you to stay away. Anything out of the ordinary could be a sign of dog pregnancy. Your dog's nipples may also turn a darker shade of red, become larger and start to leak milk.

Third stage: growing the puppies

While growing the puppies inside of her, your pit bull may start to nest. When she does this, she'll start shredding bedding to create a nest for herself and her pups to live in for the first few weeks.

The dog gestation period is around 63 days. In the first month on about day 22, the fetuses will begin to form, and you can hear the fetal heartbeats around day 28 to 30. In the second month, the fetuses grow eyelids, toes and claws. By the end of month two, your pregnant pit bull will start the nesting process.

In month three, the puppies will take their whelping position in your pregnant pit bull's birth canal. Your dog's body temperature is going to decrease 12 hours to 24 hours before she gives birth, and she may appear restless. She may also start digging, panting, pacing around, and shivering even if it is not cold.

Fourth stage: labor

During pit bull labor and delivery, your dog may start to have contractions. Along with being restless and panting, she may have a decrease in appetite, start vomiting, become reclusive, and discharge a clear fluid from her vagina.

The second stage of pit bull labor and delivery involves your dog delivering her puppies. She will deliver one puppy at a time, and it will take one to 24 hours until she delivers all of them. Usually, deliveries happen every 30 to 60 minutes. Knowing how many puppies are inside of your pregnant pit bull prior to labor and delivery is very important. Otherwise, you won't be able to determine when she is finished.

Caring for your pit bull

During pit bull pregnancy, you will have to take extra care of your dog to ensure she and her puppies are healthy. You may need to switch to a higher-quality dog food and then start feeding her puppy dog food later on in the pregnancy to guarantee that she will be able to produce enough milk for her offspring.

Throughout the pregnancy, you will have to make sure your dog is exercising every single day. Even if she is very heavy toward the end of her pregnancy, get in a walk for at least a few minutes on a daily basis.

You should call your veterinarian if your dog is exhibiting any off-color behavior or is experiencing vaginal discharge. Setting up appointments throughout the pregnancy and getting as much information as possible about caring for your pregnant pit bull are very important.

Caring for the puppies

Before your dog gives birth, you will want to set up the whelping box where she can do the delivery. This is also where she should stay for the first few weeks with her puppies. You will need to keep this area warm by placing it in a warm spot or using a heat lamp. It should be 85 degrees or warmer for the first few days after birth and then 72 degrees or warmer after that since puppies do not have the ability to regulate their body temperature.

You will want to keep any other dogs in the house away from the mother and her puppies during the first few weeks since she may become protective and aggressive. You will need to monitor the puppies for any signs of infection and help the little ones latch on to their mother's nipples if they are having trouble doing so. If the trouble keeps up, you may need to bottle feed the puppies.