How long dogs are pregnant and tell-tale symptoms
August 7, 2021
If you are thinking about breeding your female dog for the first time, or there has been an ‘unexpected incident’, you’ll need to know some facts about dog pregnancy.
STAR Vets’ head vet Caroline Ward, is here to help. Read Caroline’s answers to frequently asked questions on the subject, from pet owners in Derbyshire.
Book a dog pregnancy consultation
How did my dog get pregnant? – Besides the obvious ‘birds & bees’ explanation, it’s helpful to know that female dogs can’t get pregnant all the time. An unneutered female’s ‘heat’ season typically starts between 6 – 36 months of age, lasting 3 weeks at a time, about twice a year.
Female dogs ‘in heat’ can be impregnated by an ‘in-tact’ male dog when you least expect it i.e., out on a walk, visiting someone’s home, doggy day-care, and even in your home or garden. Unneutered male dogs are known to stop at nothing to reach a female.
How long are dogs pregnant for? – A dog pregnancy can vary between 56 – 70 days. Typically, puppies should arrive about 63 days (just over 2 months) after conception.
Are there any tell-tale dog pregnancy symptoms? – Like humans, some dogs can suffer from ‘morning sickness’ and will vomit in the early stages of pregnancy. Other early dog pregnancy symptoms can be subtle including changes to appetite, slightly enlarged nipples, clear vaginal discharge, increased tiredness, and more affectionate behaviour.
During the latter stages, expect weight gain, increased appetite, and behaviour changes. Her teats may become darker, stand out more, and produce a semi-clear discharge. An enlarged abdomen with visible puppy movement is a great sign that puppies are on the way.
Can I buy a dog home pregnancy test?
There is no shop-sold home dog pregnancy test available, like those you can buy for humans. One of our experienced vets may use a hormone test, ultrasound, or a physical examination of the abdomen, to confirm whether your dog is pregnant.
How can I prepare for my dog giving birth?
- Create a nest: Make a quiet, relaxing, and private space for your dog to give birth and nurse puppies in. Line a large cardboard box or whelping box with puppy pads and clean bedding. Add her own clean toys/bedding to get her used to it.
- Prep in advance: Gather clean towels, nail scissors, and small blankets. Microwavable bean bags can provide warmth if you need to move puppies away from mum for any reason.
- Talk to our experienced vets: Know the signs of labour and distress to look out for. You should be as hands off as possible, but always there to support and intervene if needed.
- Be ready for an emergency: Dogs often give birth at night, and sometimes an emergency caesarean is required. Caroline recommends a) popping our emergency contact information in your phone, b) having transport available, and c) packing anything you’ll need to take with you (wallet, keys, blankets, puppy carrier etc.), in advance.
How long is a dog in labour?
Depending on the number of puppies, labour normally lasts between 3 – 12 hours. When you book your dog pregnancy appointment at our Appleby Magna practice, ask us about the three stages of dog labour.
Think your dog could be pregnant? Book a vet consultation so we can run some tests and help you understand what happens next.