When it comes to dogs, pregnancy lasts anywhere between 61 and 65 days. It is typically measured from the day they start ovulating until the day they give birth. Their pregnancy goes on for three trimesters, with each trimester being around 21 days long.
Dog owners may not notice the early physical changes in their pooch’s body and figure it out only when she is well into the last trimester. Unfortunately, discovering a dog’s pregnancy is not as easy as peeing on an at-home pregnancy test. Most of the time, it is only when they visit the vet that they learn about it.
You can also watch out for the following common signs of pregnancy in your dog:
1. Lowered Appetite and Morning Sickness
One of the earliest signs that your dog could be pregnant is the lack of appetite. Just like humans, not all dogs experience this symptom, but some do start eating less than they usually would, especially during the first two weeks of gestation. You need not worry though as they will make up for it in the later stages.
If your furry friend resists eating during this period and vomits occasionally, do not force feed her. You can try making her meals more appealing by adding some ground beef and rice with her kibble. Let her eat as much as she wants to without worrying about her going hungry. More often than not, a healthy pregnant dog will not go for more than a couple of days without eating. If she continues to avoid food, however, take her to a good vet for a proper examination.
2. Reduction in Physical Activity
While it is perfectly normal for dogs to stay low key every once in a while, those with high energy levels will rarely stay down for long. If your dog has been showing a sudden decrease in physical activity, consider whether or not she’s happy. However, if everything is as it was, but her happiness quotient seems to be low, it could be due to pregnancy.
The lull in your dog’s energy level will not appear at a particular point in time though but will be scattered throughout the pregnancy. Remember, your dog will need to conserve more energy to deal with the changes inside her body and the impending birth. It is, therefore, normal for her to be less physically active and sleep more during this phase.
3. Development of Breasts and Changes in Teats
The development of breasts is a reliable sign that your dog’s body is readying itself for motherhood. Usually, the teats of a non-pregnant dog are tiny and the skin under them is flat. However, they enlarge during pregnancy as the milk production and preparation for nursing begin. You may be able to feel the development in two to three weeks of the pregnancy.
Apart from this, the color of the nipples, particularly the last four to five before her hind legs, may start turning pink-ish. This happens because of the increased flow of blood to that part. This change is visible as soon as the breast development begins.
Because new life (or lives) is growing inside your dog, her abdomen will reflect this by enlarging. You may start to notice the enlargement during the second trimester and it will become larger in the third one. You can also keep a check on your dog’s weight gain as a pregnant dog’s weight will have increased by 25% to 50% around day 40 of the gestation period.
If the breast development isn’t showing, the nipples aren’t enlarging or there isn’t much weight gain, you can check for pregnancy by feeling the dog’s abdomen. After some time, you may even be able to feel the puppies moving.
Pregnant dogs may not like being touched on their tummies. Also, the teats may be sore, which is why you should avoid touching that part as far as possible. If your dog is uncomfortable with any of your movements on her body, stop immediately.
5. Behavioral Changes
Almost all pregnant dogs show some extent of behavioral change. Some become clingy and affectionate towards their owner to be able to stay close to them as they feel uncertain about the changes they experience. Others stay aloof most of the time and become slightly grouchy. These changes become apparent within a few days of the pregnancy. Some other behavioral changes to watch out for are:
After becoming pregnant, the dog will begin nesting. More often than not, the “nest” is the same place where the dog sleeps at night, especially if the said place is spacious and secure. So, dog owners may not be able to notice this sign clearly. However, if they find their dog spending more time than usual at the same place, it could mean she’s nesting.
As the dog gets closer to giving birth, she will spend an increasing amount of time in one particular area of the home. This is a surefire sign that puppies are coming soon and it’s time to start preparing for their arrival.
When a pregnant dog is nesting, she often lies down on her side rather than sleep in her usual positions. This is so because she’s protecting her puppies.
b. Not As Playful
A pregnant dog isn’t as playful as she would typically be. In fact, she may not want to play at all. If your dog was the playful type who would look forward to going out with you but doesn’t seem like that anymore, it could be because she’s pregnant.
Dogs may become less playful when they’re tired, but they will still make the effort to approach you and cuddle with you or lie next to you. Pregnant dogs rarely exhibit such behavior. As time passes and the delivery date approaches, your dog will be less inclined to play with you in any way. You can speak to the vet to verify this.
c. Not to be Seen Around
If your dog no longer wants to spend time with you as she usually would have, it could be because she has already given birth and you don’t know about it. She may be actually nesting and hence, spending less time with you. Because the gestation period lasts just 2 months, you may not even notice this change.
If the dog is frequently retreating to the same place, such as the backyard or over the fence, over and over again, you may want to follow her there to see what’s going on with her. This is particularly applicable if you see her taking food with her. She may be doing so to feed her brood, which may have been born unbeknownst to you.
A safe way of spending more time with your pregnant dog is by taking care of her. According to a renowned Brandon dog grooming service, “Routine grooming will keep your pet looking good and feeling good!” Dog owners can take their expectant pooches to the local grooming parlor for some careful pampering. They typically customize the grooming session according to the dog’s needs so you should inform them of her pregnancy.
When to See a Vet
When a dog is pregnant, she may experience vaginal discharge after about four weeks of gestation or later. Hence, it cannot be considered an early sign of pregnancy. In fact, it is advisable to consult a vet if you see any kind of discharge. Some red flags, in particular, to watch out for are:
- Heavy bleeding
- Mucus with spots of blood
- Mucus that isn’t clear
- Foul odor in mucus
The above signs may indicate that your dog might have caught an infection during her heat cycle or during/after mating.
Deciphering whether or not your dog is pregnant in the early stages warrants a trained eye. As the stages advance, the signs become increasingly apparent too. Understanding what’s happening inside your pooch’s body is crucial to be able to look after her. It is best that dog owners educate themselves about other related symptoms and canine gestation in order to provide their beloved mutt with the best care during this emotional phase.
About the Author = Mattie Elsner