A litter of puppies

Pregnancy

So you think your little girl might be about to become a proud parent? How exciting! But before you can brag about being a grandparent, there are a few important things you need to know.

How long is a dog’s pregnancy?

From time of ovulation (which isn’t always the same day as breeding), pregnancy ranges from 56 – 66 days, with an average of 63 days.

What are common signs my dog might be pregnant?

During the first few weeks:

  • slight gain in weight
  • possible morning sickness (usually in 3rd to 4th week)
  • lethargy
  • lack of appetite

Weeks four to six:

  • increased belly size
  • nipples begin to darken and enlarge
  • production of milk
  • vet can often detect pregnancy by abdominal palpation or
  • using an ultrasound

Abdominal palpation

Developing puppies lie inside the horns of their mothers uterus. A vet can tell whether a dog is pregnant by the 28th day after the last breeding. By palpating the abdomen, they can feel swelling embryos about the size of walnuts.

Abdominal palpation requires experience and a gentle hand. This should only be done by your veterinarian or an experienced breeder. If you would like to learn how to palpate for puppies, ask your veterinarian to teach you. After day 35, the foetuses are floating in capsules of fluid and can’t be detected by palpation.

Abdominal x-rays

X-rays are used as an alternative to an ultrasound. They can distinguish between pregnancy, false pregnancy, and pyometra, as well as estimate the size of the litter. Because the radiation could harm the developing embryos, they should be done before 45 days.

When should I organise pre-natal checkups?

Schedule the first check-up two to three weeks after breeding and your vet will advise you about any further necessary check-ups.

Your veterinarian will want to talk to you about:

  • delivery procedures
  • potential problems
  • how to care for the newborn puppies

In case it’s needed, be sure to find out where you can get emergency service after hours.