Yorkie pregnancies progress much the same as typical dog pregnancies, lasting an average of 62 to 64 days. However, a pregnant Yorkie needs gentle care during this time because she is such a small dog. It's important to determine that she is pregnant as early as possible so she can be seen by her vet, and her owners can learn what to do for her to ensure a safe, healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Determining if she is pregnant
It can be difficult to tell when a dog is pregnant in the early stage because the more obvious signs, like nipple enlargement, occur later in the pregnancy. Many owners notice that their Yorkie seems unusually tired and sluggish, has an increased appetite, and is gaining weight. On the other hand, she might vomit early on and not want to eat. Her abdomen may be slightly firm, and she may have behavioral changes, like being more affectionate than usual or more irritable.
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Beginning around day 25 of gestation, a vet can perform a blood test looking for the hormone relaxin, which is only present during pregnancy. Also around this time, an ultrasound may be able to pick up fetal heartbeats because they are two to three times faster than the mother's heartbeat. From day 28 on, the vet may be able to feel the puppies by palpation. Don't attempt this yourself, however, because an untrained person can hurt the puppies.
Sometimes, dogs show many signs of pregnancy but are not actually pregnant, which is called a false pregnancy. This mysterious condition occurs about four to nine weeks after their last estrus, or heat. Along with lethargy and vomiting, mammary glands can swell and may even start milk production, and the dog may seem restless and begin nesting. False pregnancy signs occur because the ovaries produce hormones after every estrus cycle, but instead of stopping when pregnancy does not occur, hormone production continues for reasons that aren't fully understood.
Care for a pregnant Yorkie during the second month
Make a comfy spot with soft cloths and blankets where your pregnant Yorkie can rest, and place it in a quiet corner. Even a Yorkie who normally loves to cuddle with her humans will often want to retreat to her somewhat isolated spot as the pregnancy progresses. This is because her nesting instinct makes her want to prepare a place where she and her puppies can be together.
A high-quality diet is even more important now that she is growing puppies. Make sure she has food available at all times in a bowl that you clean daily, discarding the old food and adding new. Be sure she has a bowl of clean water available at all times too. Do not give your pregnant Yorkie supplements of any kind without the recommendation of her vet.
Watch for signs of problems
If your pregnant Yorkie shows signs of disorientation and restlessness, possibly accompanied by panting, she could have pre-eclampsia, which can be life threatening. Some dogs develop gestational diabetes; their bodies either stop producing insulin or don't use the insulin produced. Signs of gestational diabetes include drinking a lot more water and urinating more frequently, having a huge appetite but losing weight, or extreme lethargy and sleepiness. Unusual signs like these warrant an immediate call to your vet to rule out dangerous conditions.
What to expect during the third trimester
During the last stage of her pregnancy, your pregnant Yorkie will look obviously pregnant, with a large belly and swollen mammary glands. It's harder for her to get around now, so while she still needs exercise, she should not be running or going on long walks. Shorter walks once or twice a day will help her stay fit and ready for delivery.
Many vets recommend feeding her more food at this point by separating it into smaller meals that are given more times a day. An X-ray during this stage can tell you how many puppies your pregnant Yorkie is carrying.
Getting ready for birth
Around day 50 or so, start preparing a whelping (birthing) box large enough for your pregnant Yorkie and her puppies to be comfortable. She should be able to get in and out easily but not the puppies. Line the box with many layers of newspapers and soft cloths that are clean but can get soiled without concern and introduce her to the box. Keep phone numbers of your vet and an emergency clinic nearby.
As birth nears, your Yorkie may become very restless, may stop eating, may vomit, and may cry in pain. Puppies can come quickly or up to two hours apart. If more than two hours pass and you know there are more puppies, contact your vet for advice.