The dog gestation period is one of the most crucial phases in the life of a female dog which has not been spayed. There are a lot of aspects in which humans and dogs are alike. Both of them share mutual love and care, are enthusiastic about being social and seldom leave their companion alone. However, pregnancy is a process in which they differ.
While a female human being stays pregnant for around nine months, a female dog’s span of pregnancy is much shorter. Besides, the canines always give birth to more than one baby at the time of delivery, unlike humans. The dog gestation period is indeed very exciting but is also a challenging one at the same time for the owners. However, there are not many sights better than seeing a bunch of puppies coming to life and a bit of increased workload is definitely worth it.
How long are dogs pregnant?
Dog gestation period starts when a female dog becomes pregnant and continues until she delivers her puppies. It goes on for about 63 days (which is nine weeks), although it can range from 58 to 68 days, depending upon the breed of your dog. To ensure a healthy delivery, it is advisable to take her to a veterinarian regularly during her pregnancy. The entire process can be summed as under:
- After the sexual intercourse, the sperm of a male dog reaches the uterine horns of a female dog and around the 16th day, it fixes firmly and deeply in the uterine lining.
- Within a week after that, the foetuses start developing. Although they begin to take shape, not many physical changes can be seen at this point.
- By around the 28th to 35th day, veterinarians will be able to confirm that puppies are on their way. They perform abdominal palpitations and it must be done by someone experienced in this sector. Any wrong touch could potentially harm the babies or even cause miscarriage.
- The puppies attain their fur, skeletons and claws by the time pregnancy reaches its 45th to 50th day. The belly of your pregnant dog will increase in size considerably and you may even see movements in her belly a few days later.
- In the penultimate stage, it is common to see a female dog walking around with great anxiety as she tries to find a proper place for delivery. The puppies develop almost fully by the 58th day and start to move into their birthing position.
- Finally, the female dog goes into labour on the 63rd day (in most of the cases) and it might take few hours to almost an entire day to finish giving birth to puppies. Puppies will be delivered one by one after a gap of approximately 30 minutes.
What is the heat cycle?
For a female dog to be pregnant, she must first be in heat. They go into heat when they are as young as 4 months old, although the large breeds might go into heat after being 18-20 months old. It refers to the period during which they become receptive to male dogs in order to mate and is a pre-pregnancy stage. Generally, female dogs that are not spayed go into heat twice in a year and each cycle lasts for around 18 to 21 days. It keeps happening throughout their lives and it is very important to keep a note of their occurrences.
Read more about Dogs in Heat.
What are the symptoms of a dog’s pregnancy?
Pregnancy test kits are not available to check if a dog is pregnant or not, which implies that the diagnostic tests could be resorted to as it gives fairly accurate result. Apart from that, there are other signs which may be checked to determine a dog’s pregnancy. One of the first signs includes the swelling of nipples and the introduction of red colour in it during the initial weeks of pregnancy. You might even see some milky fluids and enlargement of breasts.
During the third or fourth week, you might notice her being lazy and lethargic. Vomiting is also known to be a common phenomenon due to hormonal changes, coupled with an increase in her weight. She loses her appetite, loses her interest in exercises and her abdomen starts to swell. If your dog throws up, offer her small meals at regular intervals to keep her in the right shape.
By the time pregnancy reaches its second month, the dog’s appetite and urination start increasing. Vaginal discharges transpire and she gets inclined to withdraw her from others. Her belly starts to expand and you can comprehend the puppies moving inside it during the concluding stage of pregnancy. In the final days, however, her appetite decreases and she will seemingly appear to be restless during her movements.
Can dog pregnancy be avoided?
Yes, pregnancy of your female dog can be avoided if you are not interested to let her have puppies. Spaying her will ensure she doesn’t reproduce and you will not be bothered by her pregnancy. As soon as she attains sexual maturity, spaying should be done after taking advice from her veterinarian to restrain her from going into heat. Spaying helps in preventing uterine infections and breast tumours and impliedly, it will increase the life of your pet.
If you are reluctant to spay your dog, you have to take all necessary steps to keep her away from male dogs such as not letting her go out alone and taking care of her heat cycles as her scent at that time will attract males. Let her mate only if you are thoroughly sure of having puppies as homelessness of dogs is on the rise. With not enough homes available, dogs are euthanized to clear the streets, which is a terrible view.
What do you need to do during your dog’s gestation period?
Immediately after you notice symptoms of pregnancy in your dog, it is recommended that you start working closely with your veterinarian throughout the gestation period. Pregnancy diabetes and orthopaedic diseases are common at this stage. Also, it is very important to keep a track of her fitness and exercises and it is advisable not to force her into intensive training. Your dog’s nutrition is to be assessed too and you can give her small meals frequently to comfort her.
How to prepare for her delivery?
- Prepare a quiet area inside your house or somewhere in your backyard wherein she can rest and deliver with peace of mind. You can use a box, which should be large enough for her and her newborn babies, stuffed with newspapers so that the blood coming out can be kept at bay and to avoid any mess.
- Further, keep new towels to clean her up after delivery. You should also be ready with blankets and a hot water bag to keep her and her babies warm.
- There might be times when a puppy gets stuck. Using lubricants to ensure a smooth movement could be useful. However, it is advisable to be done at the discretion of your veterinarian. Intervene only when the situation appears to be inconvenient.
- A female dog’s body temperature drops at the time of delivery. Keep a thermometer close so that her body’s temperature can be checked. If the temperature keeps dropping without her going into labour in 24 hours, contact your veterinarian.
- Always use clean scissors to cut her umbilical cord. After that, use iodine to clean the abdomen of the newborn puppies and check their weight.
- In case of any emergency, take her to the nearest clinic or veterinarian.
Almost the entire process of delivery is done by the female dog herself but you, as her owner, need to keep an eye on her. One must intervene only in case of an emergency and not otherwise as your intrusion might cause uneasiness for your dog. Do not panic if you are compelled to get into the scheme of things as your nervousness could lead to unwanted scenarios. Delivery generally gets over in a matter of a few hours and it is only a matter of time before you get to see cute little puppies running around you alongside their mother.