If you are a dog owner, then there are probably many things you have wondered about their anatomy and health. Pregnancy is something in particular that may have interested you. This might be because pregnancy is something you want to avoid, because you are considering breeding the dog in the future, or simply because you are just interested to know. For those who want to avoid their dog becoming pregnant, advances now mean that you can have a female dog spayed from as early as six to eight weeks of age. The most common question that relates to the pregnancies of dogs is the length of their pregnancy, also known as their gestation period.
What is the Gestation Period of a Dog?
Female dogs who have not been spayed have a menstrual cycle of six to eight months. This means that every six to eight months, they will go into heat. During this time, their bodies are priming themselves for child rearing. An average dog is in heat for approximately three weeks. The last two weeks of this are when the dog is prime for egg fertilization. The reproductive cycle of a dog can become more erratic as they get older. However, they do not have a menopause like humans.
The length of the pregnancy depends on several factors as it can vary according to the size of the dog and the breed type. However, pregnancy is generally around two months or approximately 60 to 65 days from conception to giving birth. On average, a female dog is pregnant for 63 days, or nine weeks.
How to Tell a Dog is Pregnant
In comparison to human pregnancies, the pregnancy of a dog is very quick. Therefore, it is something that can sneak up on a dog owner very quickly, especially if the dog has not been bred deliberately as part of a breeding program led by a professional dog breeder. You need an observant eye to identify the signs of pregnancy in your dog.
It is also tricky as many of the signs of pregnancy are the same as those of a dog in heat. Both pregnant dogs and dogs in heat will have swollen bellies and enlarged nipples. However, the swelling of both the tummy and the nipples will subside if the dog has been in heat while both body parts will remain swollen in a pregnant dog.
On the other hand, the swollen tummy on a larger dog is something that you may not notice until the final few weeks of pregnancy. It is easier to spot a swollen, pregnant tummy on smaller dog breeds.
There are some other signs you should look out for that are good indicators of dog pregnancy. Vomiting, just like human morning sickness, can occur. However, this is relatively uncommon. The dog may become lethargic and lose her appetite. These are two of the best signs to look out for if you are unacquainted with dog pregnancy.
The Dog Gestation Period
During the first two weeks of a dog pregnancy, the most apparent changes are in your dog’s behavior. She may have a different mood and attitude or have lost her appetite. The mood changes can differ from one dog to the next. While some become withdrawn, others become more affectionate. Other factors that can affect the changes that take place during this stage of the pregnancy are the overall health of the dog and her diet.
By day 28, a veterinary can usually confirm the pregnancy. This is done by conducting an ultrasound of the dog’s uterus to identify if it contains any puppies. They can also give you an estimated date of arrival and some idea of how many puppies to expect, although sometimes there is a puppy hiding behind the others that is not picked up on the ultrasound.
From week six to week four of the pregnancy, your dog will begin to put on weight and have a firmer abdomen. It is advisable to give her smaller but more frequent meals during this period. At this time, her teats will also grow larger as she begins to produce milk in preparation for becoming a mother.
In the final two weeks of pregnancy, your dog should appear noticeably larger and you may even be able to feel the puppies through her abdomen. Help her to prepare for birth by giving her a whelping box that is lined with newspaper and old blankets. Just before labor, she will lose her appetite again.
Spaying and Neutering
If you do not want your dog to have puppies, then it is essential that you get female dogs spayed and male dogs neutered. This is much better than having an unwanted litter of puppies. This is a simple process that veterinary surgeons conduct routinely, and the risks are minimal.
Unwanted pregnancies are not the only reason you should consider sterilizing your dog. It can also help them to avoid diseases associated with the reproductive system. It is also important to note that it is vital your dog is up to date with their vaccinations if they are not spayed as it will protect them and also any puppies that unexpectedly arrive.