The thought of a pile of sleeping puppies puts a grin a on your face. You can hardly wait to welcome those little yelping balls of fur to the world. But just when can you expect your dog to give birth to her litter of puppies that you've been anticipating for so long?
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There are numerous signs of pregnancy in dogs that you and your vet can look for to estimate when your dog will give birth, including morning sickness and increasing size.
Tests at the vet
On average, a dog is pregnant for 63 days before her puppies are born, assures the American Kennel Club. Neither you nor your dog will be able to tell that she's pregnant at first. But around the four-week mark your vet may be able to palpate (fancy word for using hands to feel) her abdomen to try to feel for pups, who at that point can range from the size of a grape to a golf ball, depending on the breed.
Thirty days after your dog conceives, your vet can test for the hormone relaxin, which is released only during pregnancy. Hills Pet says an ultrasound can be performed between 25 and 35 days into the pregnancy and can help confirm the number of heartbeats found. An X-ray can be done shortly before birth, around the 55th day of pregnancy, to see how the puppies are doing and how many pups are waiting to meet their mom -- and you. The X-ray helps you know what to expect on the day your dog gives birth.
Dog pregnancy calendar
But there are signs of pregnancy you can look for without the help of a vet. Look for these dog pregnancy symptoms week by week. During the first two weeks after mating, your dog won't be showing any symptoms of pregnancy. At the two week mark, her nipples will start to enlarge, and the embryos will implant on the wall of the uterus, explains the Continental Kennel Club.
As the third week concludes, your dog will start to lose some fur on her chest, which helps clear the way for her puppies to have an easier time finding her nipples for nursing. As her uterus expands through the fourth week, it presses on her stomach and internal organs, making her uncomfortable and leading to morning sickness with vomiting. She may start eating less, but her growing brood need all the nutrition they can get, so feed smaller, more frequent meals.
About halfway into the pregnancy, your dog may start engaging in nesting behaviors such as digging, wandering, and extra grooming. This is a good time to prepare her a nesting space in a quiet corner of the house. In the sixth week, you'll be able to see puppies moving in belly. How much longer will the pregnancy last?
Veterinarians says there are still three weeks to go. You'll be able to feel the puppies as your dog's abdomen continues to expand. She may start to eat even less, but keep encouraging her with her favorite foods. However, by the last couple weeks of pregnancy, some dogs regain their appetites and will extra hungry.
Preparing for birth
In the days before birth, milk will leak from her nipples if they are gently squeezed. Between 12 and 24 hours before labor begins, your dog's temperature will drop from the usual 101 to 102.5 degrees to 98 degrees. Once that happens, you'll know it's almost time for the pups to be born.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.