You've been anxiously awaiting Josie's delivery date, wondering how many bundles of joy to expect. Though you've been keeping a close eye on her, it's hard to guess how many puppies she's carrying. The vet has a few ways to get a puppy head count to help you get ready.
X-rays can distinguish between pregnancy, false pregnancy and thickening of the uterus in dogs, and are the most accurate estimate of litter size. Josie shouldn't have X-rays before her 45th day of pregnancy, as the radiation could harm her pups. The vet can give you an estimate of her litter size earlier, around the 28th day of pregnancy, by palpating her abdomen. At that point her pups are small, vulnerable embryos, so palpation should only be done by the vet, who will know where and how to feel for puppies without damaging their fetal-placental units. If you really can't wait, at 21 days an abdominal ultrasound can estimate litter size. Ultrasonography is safe and doesn't use radiation, however, it's not as accurate as X-rays for counting pups.
By Betty Lewis
About the Author
Betty Lewis has been writing professionally since 2000, specializing in animal care and issues, business analysis and homeland security. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from West Virginia University as well as master's degrees from Old Dominion University and Tulane University.