We’ve had many request on what to expect when your dog is expecting from inexperienced folks using our stud services. So here we go and hope I am not overwhelming y’all. I've been asked to add a section on raising the pups until they go to their new homes. I will add that soon to the bottom of this pregnancy page. please do ask if you need more info on this or our FAQ page and I will address it. Pregnancy can be a stressful time for dogs and owners, but it doesn’t have to be. The more you know about dog pregnancy ahead of time, the better prepared you will be to care for your dog. Prior to breeding Your dog should be in good weight / fitness to improve conception rate and whelping outcome. A good commercial diet is appropriate (I.E. not cost cutters grease balls for dogs.) We see common advice (older thinking? Not proven by current medical standard) to skip cycles between breeding. this is not optimal husbandry because the inevitable exposure to progesterone during each estrous cycle which promotes cystic endometrial hyperplasia and may result in pyometra. While rare is something to be aware of. Pre breeding Visits to the Vet Before you breed your dog, take her to the vet for a prenatal checkup. She should be up-to-date on vaccinations. Your vet will probably recommend either a fecal exam to check for intestinal parasites or just have your dog de-wormed with an appropriate medication suited for your dog prior to mating.
How to Tell if Your Dog Is Pregnant
gestation average 63 days. 59 to 69 days is possible. You may notice an increase in appetite, weight, vulvar size and nipple size. Note, a dog with a false pregnancy may also show these signs. Be aware the first date of mating may not always match the date of conception. The length of pregnancy can also vary with breed and litter size
Signs of Pregnancy Note that some dogs may vomit and have a decrease in appetite for a few days in the first trimester due to changes in hormones. There are signs of dog pregnancy you can watch for, including:
Increase in appetite
Increase in nipple size
Tires more easily
[yes, the last two are opposites, basically any temperament changes]
Diagnostic testing Palpation If you know the date your dog was bred, palpation starting at approximately the 28-30-day mark. At this stage in the pregnancy, the puppies feel like little golf balls or grapes depending on the size of the dog. These “balls” are fluid-filled sacks surrounding the fetus. Abdominal palpation should not be attempted without the assistance of a veterinarian, as it could damage the pups. The sacks lose their distinct shape after one month, so the timing of this test is important. Ultrasound. Ultrasonography is also useful in pregnancy determination and permits evaluation of fetal viability. Ultrasonography is best performed at 25–35 days gestation. Before 21 days, “false-negative” results are seen. Doppler-type instruments allow one to “hear” the fetal heart, which beats 2–3 times faster than that of the dam. Placental sounds may also be heard. Hormone test At about 25-to-30 days of gestation, your veterinarian can perform a blood test to measure the dog’s hormone levels to see if she is producing the hormone relaxin. Relaxin is only produced during pregnancy, making the test relatively accurate. This test is available online should you wish to do this yourself. I hate to pass this off to you-tube although you may wish to see what is required. We have this test but also have a wider range of ‘equipment’ than most. X-ray X-rays are one of the most effective ways to determine if a bitch is pregnant. However, this is best done at 55 days or more, as the puppies’ skeletal systems don’t show up on an x-ray until then. An x-ray at this time allows you to get an accurate count of the number of puppies, which will prepare you to know when your dog is finished delivering. Caring for a Pregnant Dog Once you have determined that your dog is pregnant, there are some steps you should take to make sure she stays healthy throughout her pregnancy.
Proper Nutrition One of the most important things you can do for your pregnant bitch is make sure she receives proper nutrition. If your dog is already on a good quality feed and is at a healthy weight, you won’t have to make any changes to her diet. increasing the amount of food prior to the third trimester stage can actually be harmful. Due to excess weight gain and extra strain on mom thus pups. As her weight increases in the last weeks of her pregnancy, increase her food intake gradually and feed her small, frequent meals, as large meals can cause discomfort until she consumes 35-to-50 percent more than usual. Limit strenuous exercise during the first two weeks of gestation will enhance the implantation of the embryos. After that, normal exercise is fine until her last trimester and then don’t overdo it. De-worming with an appropriate de-wormer (Fenbendazole) starting on her third trimester (about day 40 of gestation) and again about 14 days post whelping significantly decreases the amount of roundworm and hookworms in newborn puppies, allowing them to grow and thrive to their utmost.
Preparing for Puppies
By the end of the first month a fetal heartbeat can be detected. development speeds up in the second month as the embryos develop into recognizable puppies. At the end of the second month and the start of the third, the puppies are ready to be born. A drop in rectal temperature to a mean of 98.8°F (range 98.1°–100.0°F) (37.1°C [range 36.7°-37.8°C]) is seen in most dogs 8–24 hours before whelping. As the end of your dog’s pregnancy approaches, you’ll notice a significant enlargement of her breasts and nipples, and might even detect some milky fluid as the milk glands develop and enlarge. Her abdomen will increase in size and may sway a little as she walks. At the very end of the pregnancy, you might even be able to see or feel the puppies moving around inside the mother. By this time, you want to prepare yourself and your dog for whelping, or puppy birthing. The best way to do this is to set up a whelping box. Whelping boxes offer a safe, warm, draft-free, easily cleaned location for your dog to have her puppies. There are whelping boxes made that can be purchased or you can even use a small children’s plastic swimming pool. The whelping box should be easy for the mother, but not the puppies, to get in and out of. Your dog may prefer to have it in a quiet area of the house but in an area that you can have easy access. Once you have your whelping box, take some time to get your dog accustomed to it. If you don’t introduce her to the whelping box beforehand, she might decide to deliver someplace else—like your closet. Or the middle of your bed – a definite wake up call.
She should deliver in a familiar area where she will not be disturbed. Unfamiliar surroundings or strangers may impede delivery, interfere with milk letdown, or adversely affect maternal instincts. This is more common in 1st time moms. Her apprehension or nervousness may subside in a few hours, but in the meantime the neonates must receive colostrum and be kept warm; nursing should be closely supervised.
A nervous mom may ignore the neonates or give them excess attention. She may lick and bite at the umbilical stump, causing hemorrhage or damage to the abdominal wall that may lead to evisceration. Excess grooming of the neonate may prevent it from nursing. If the dam’s maternal instincts fail, she may lie on her stomach and chest area not allow nursing, or leave the neonates unattended. It is not unusual for the dam to pick up the pups and to rearrange them in the box, especially after delivery of each pup; however, she should then assume the normal nursing position.
Stage I labor in dogs lasts 12–24 hours, during which time the myometrial (outer layer of the uterus) contractions of the uterus increase in frequency and strength and the cervix dilates. No abdominal efforts (visible contractions) are evident during stage I labor. Your dog may exhibit changes in disposition and behavior during stage I labor, becoming reclusive, restless, and nesting intermittently, often refusing to eat and sometimes vomiting. Panting and trembling may be seen. Normal vaginal discharge is clear and watery. Normal stage II labor is marked by visible abdominal efforts, which are accompanied by myometrial contractions that culminate in the delivery of a neonate. Typically, these efforts should not last >1–2 hours between puppies although great variation exists. The entire delivery can take 1 to >24 hours; however, normal labor is associated with shorter total delivery time and intervals (30–60 minutes) between neonates. Vaginal discharge can be clear, serous to hemorrhagic, or green (uteroverdin). Typically, female dogs continue to nest between deliveries and may nurse and groom neonates intermittently. panting, and trembling are common. Stage III labor is defined as the delivery of the placenta typically vacillating between stages II and III of labor until the delivery is complete. During normal labor, all fetuses and placentae are delivered although they may not be delivered together in every instance. It is important that all placentae are delivered. A retained placenta could be a source of infection. Yes, you dog will eat them and should eat them for the hormones contained within. contractions, or progressive fetal distress without response to medical management are indications for a cesarean section. If stage I labor is >24 hours without progression to stage II, if stage II labor does not produce a vaginal delivery within 1–2 hours, if fetal or maternal stress is excessive, if moribund or stillborn neonates are seen, or if stage II labor does not result in the completion of deliveries in a timely manner (within 4–12 hours). Dystocia (difficult birth) results from maternal factors (uterine inertia, pelvic canal anomalies), fetal factors (oversize, malposition, malposture, anomalies), or a combination. Clinically, uterine inertia developing after the delivery of one or more neonates (secondary inertia) is the most common cause of dystocia.
Whelping Supply Checklist:
Lots of newspaper to line the whelping box during delivery for easy cleanup and garbage bags
Non-skid bath mats for bedding after whelping is done
Dry, clean towels to clean the puppies
Paper towels to help with clean up
Thermometer to check your dog’s temperature before whelping
Clean, sterilized scissors to cut the umbilical cords
Unwaxed dental floss to tie off the umbilical cords
Iodine to clean the puppies’ abdomens after the cord is cut and dab on the end of the cut umbilical cord
Heat lamp set high above the box on one corner only to allow the puppies to crawl to a cooler spot in a box or hot water bottle to keep the puppies warm (be careful it isn’t too hot).
Bulb syringe to clean puppies’ nose and mouth
A baby scale in ounces
Honey or light corn syrup
Veterinarian’s phone number and the number of a nearby emergency clinic
Whelping When your pregnant dog’s time approaches, watch out for the warning signs of labor. Pregnant mothers may stop eating a few days before whelping and may also start trying to build a “nest” — hopefully in the whelping box. The ‘bulge’ moves back Many pregnant dogs close to delivery start to pant heavily. A drop in rectal thermometer temperature usually precedes delivery by about 8-to-24 hours from a normal temperature (100-to-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit) to 99 degrees or even lower. Many bitches ready to whelp may not eat or eat very little. Abdominal contractions may begin slowly and gain strength and frequency – sometimes they’re strongest for the first delivery accompanied by straining and moaning. You may see the water sac come out when there’s a puppy in the birth canal, and within one hour the first puppy should be delivered. Each puppy is born enclosed in its placental membrane and in each case, the mother licks the puppy vigorously and tears this membrane off, sometimes eating it. If she does not remove it, you will have to do it, as puppies cannot survive for more than a few minutes before their supply of oxygen runs out. You may need to rub the puppy with a clean towel until you hear him cry. The bitch should also sever the umbilical cord as she cleans her pups. If she does not, it is up to you to snip the cord and tie it off about one inch from the belly with some unwaxed dental floss. You should wipe the abdomen of all of the puppies with iodine to prevent infection.
Some dogs deliver their puppies one right after another, but others may deliver a few puppies, and then rest before delivering more. If there’s a break of more than two hours and if she seems exhausted you may want to call your veterinarian. We’ve seen 4 hours with no problem and many times get what we call the bonus pup perhaps 12 hours after we thought she was done. Typical textbook delivery and what actually happens can vary. Use your best judgement without panicking. Just have a plan ahead of time. You must also keep track of the number of placentas. A retained placenta can cause problems for the mother. Generally, the entire duration in hours of a normal whelping is about equal to the number of puppies in utero. So, a litter of 6 should normally take about 6 hours total. Don’t forget to offer the mother water to drink and to take her outside to relieve herself if she is in the middle of having a large litter. She’ll often need to urinate. Bring along extra towels and don’t leave her unsupervised as sometimes they can pass a puppy while they are outside! During this time, the puppies should be kept warm in their whelping box with a light towel over them to prevent them from becoming chilled. All of the puppies should be placed along the mother’s belly, and you should watch to be sure she lets them all nurse within a few hours. Keep an eye on the pups to make sure they are all breathing normally and nursing. Help any smaller pups into a better position in the ‘lineup’. Possible Dog Labor Complications Sometimes during delivery, things go wrong. If you experience any of these signs, call your veterinarian:
Your dog’s rectal temperature dropped more than 24 hours ago and labor isn’t starting. Typical although we’ve seen temperature drop three days ahead then approach normal again for a bit. although this is a very good indicator
The mother is exhibiting symptoms of severe discomfort, or if she doesn’t deliver the first puppy 2 hours after contractions begin especially if she has passed green discharge.
More than 2 hours pass in between the delivery of puppies, or your dog experiences strong contractions for an hour without a birth or if the mother seems exhausted.
Trembling, collapsing, or shivering are warning signs of serious complications that could put both the bitch and the puppies at risk.
It’s normal for dogs to deliver a dark green or bloody fluid after the first puppy, but if this happens before the first puppy, call the vet.
All of the placentas aren’t delivered.
Puppies aren’t nursing.
Other Potential problems
Inflammatory diseases in the postpartum period include and . Retention of a placenta or its remnants could lead to metritis. Signs include continued straining as if in labor, the presence of a associated with the uterus (best identified by ultrasonographic evaluation), abnormal vulvar discharge, fever, and lethargy as the infection develops. If given within 24 hours of labor, oxytocin may cause passage of the placenta
The bacteria associated with mastitis tend to be coliforms or Staphylococcus spp. Galactostasis can predispose female dogs to mastitis, as can excessive human manipulation of the mammary glands. Mammary glands should be observed to ensure that all are being nursed. Mastitis and metritis can coexist. Salmon mackerel for milk production