No matter how isolated you think you have your dog, if she goes into heat and you for some reason miss it, then the possibility is always there.
That being said, you may very well want to breed her. And if that’s the case, then your dog’s pregancy is, of course, a good thing.
So, if you think your dog is pregnant, here’s what you’ll want to do…
How To Tell If A Dog Is Pregnant
Sometimes, it is difficult to tell just by looking at your dog whether she is pregnant or not. Actually, it can be nearly impossible to know for sure until very late into the pregnancy. Each dog is different.
To determine whether your dog is pregnant or not, it’s best to take your dog to the vet.
Within 3 weeks of getting pregnant, your vet will be able to palpate your dog’s belly and they can usually (but not always) tell if your dog is pregnant that way.
Later, after your dog’s pregnancy is farther along, the vet can take x-rays or an ultrasound in order to accurately validate your dog’s pregnancy and determine how many puppies are inside. This is the best way to know how many puppies your dog is going to have, as their tiny skeletons will be clearly evident. However, it is not required that you go this route to determine your dog’s pregnancy. Usually the palpation method will suffice at some point during the pregnancy.
There is no progesterone blood or urine test to diagnose pregnancy in dogs. There is, however, a blood test that will detect relaxin, a hormone that is produced in pregnant dogs but is not found in non-pregnant dogs. This test may be performed mid gestation, which occurs at around the same time that your veterinarian can palpate the fetuses. — What To Expect When Your Dog Is Expecting
Physical Signs Of Pregnancy
That being said, there are some physical signs that you can look for that may indicate that your dog is pregnant:
1. A bigger belly.
Just like humans, dogs tend to have a larger belly as the pregnancy progresses. However, this is not a tried and true way to know if your dog is pregnant, you’ll need to take it into account with other signs.
2. Sudden changes in your dog’s appetite.
At the beginning of her pregnancy she may not be eating as much or as often, and as the pregnancy progresses her appetite may increase. She may even have morning sickness, just like a human would.
3. An increase in nipple size.
A pregnant dog’s nipples will swell as will the tissue under them, sometimes even in early pregnancy.
4. You feel movement in the dog’s belly.
While this alone is not enough to indicate pregnancy, however, taken into account with the other physical symptoms it may be a good clue. If your dog has all of the other symptoms as well then you can be relatively certain that your dog is pregnant.
5. Bodily discharge.
Your dog will have a clear discharge coming from her vulva if she is pregnant. This will have a consistency similar to mucous.
Dog Is Pregnant, Now What?
Well, now you get to help prepare for the new arrivals.
Normal gestation for dogs can be anywhere from 54 to 72 days depending when the dog was bred, so there may be a bit of a wait before the puppies arrive.
During the first month of pregancy, you should feed your dog her regular diet. It is also very important that you do not give your dog any vitamin supplements during this time. The reason for this is it has been found that pregnant dogs that are given vitamin supplements are not able to extract calcium from their bones in an efficient manner after giving birth. This unfortunately predisposes them to hypocalcemia and that can lead to muscular weakness and seizures which you of course do not want for your dog right after she’s given birth.
Once your dog reaches her second month of pregnancy, switch her regular dog food over to a high quality puppy food. This will ensure that she gets any extra calories needed, and will help her puppies get a good start in life as well.
If you are fortunate enough to know approximately when the puppies will be born, then about a week before your dog is due to give birth you will want to start taking your dog’s temperature daily. A dog’s rectal temperature will drop a few degrees about 24 hours before she is due to give birth to her puppies. This will help you to be sure that you are not out when she’s ready to have those babies.
The final step is that a week or two prior to when your dog will give birth you will want to put together a whelping box or nesting area for your dog to have her babies. The sides of the box will need to be high enough that 4 to 6 week old puppies cannot get out, but not too high that momma’s nipples get damaged every time she gets out of the box to go outside. You should put this box in an area that is both private and familiar to your dog so that she will feel comfortable there.
TIP: The whelping box should have a ledge around the inside, if possible, so your dog doesn’t accidentally smother one of the babies. The ledge gives the babies a safe place to move to if needed.
Must read: Dog Labor & Delivery: What To Expect
Here is an amazing dog birth video: