Disclaimer: As pet parents, there’s nothing quite as exciting as knowing your dog is having pups of her own! After learning of our pooch’s pregnancy, it’s normal to wonder how long do dogs stay pregnant in anticipation of the litter on the way.
However, just like some humans can be born before or after they’re due, so can dogs’ pregnancy periods lengthen or shorten. This all depends on how the mommy dog’s body handles her pregnancy.
The information in this guide is provided to give you a general understanding of what goes on during a dog’s pregnancy. Because your dog is unique though, some of the details in this guide may not be applicable to her specific case.
To really understand what your dog is going through, read other reliable sources of pet information and get some advice from your vet. This way, you can keep both your mommy dog and her pups in perfect health throughout the pregnancy.
Best Practices for Breeding Dogs
As much as possible, animal experts and activists encourage pet owners to adopt instead of breed pups if they want to add more members to their family. This way, dog population numbers can be properly managed and needy dogs can be taken out of shelters.
However, if you really want to breed your dog, there are a few practices you need to keep in mind. Just as you wouldn’t just jump into a pregnancy, it’s ideal that you prepare your dog and your home to welcome in the new litter!
For the most part, these three tips should start you off on the right foot:
- Prepare Yourself and Your Home. Your dog isn’t the one you should prepare for the new pups – it’s actually YOU. Being the main caregiver and provider for your dog and her future pups, you need to make sure your home is ready to shelter all of the new members. Finances should also be in proper order (hey, puppy care isn’t cheap!)
If you don’t plan to keep all the new pups, be sure you’ve already secured safe, caring, and trustworthy homes and families for them after they’re ready to leave their mom. Screen all potential foster homes and don’t just sell the pups to any willing Tom, Dick, or Harry for a profit!
- Choose Your Dog’s Mate. You’re not just breeding to have puppies. You should be breeding to improve your dog’s bloodline. The health and quality of the mate you choose will determine the health and wellness of the pups – so be sure to pick out nothing short of the finest partner for your pup! This includes health checks and screenings, as well as compatibility tests with your dog.
- Schedule Regular Vet Appointments. Unless you already knew it, humans have to see their doctors once a month during pregnancy to track the baby’s growth, development, and health. This also helps determine when mommy’s due to pop.
In the same way, you should schedule your dog for regular check-ups with her vet to keep track of the pregnancy. Make sure to purchase the necessary supplements to keep your mommy dog healthy all throughout.
Identifying If Your Dog Is Pregnant
Not quite sure if you’re going to be a pet grandparent just yet? You don’t really need to take your dog to the vet to tell if she’s pregnant.
You can perform a safe and definitive assessment at home to find out if your dog is readying to bring a cute new litter into the world.
Using this simple guide, you can easily find out whether or not your pooch is carrying a few little puppies in her tummy.
It’s important to identify pregnancy early on so you can bring your pup to the vet for her routine pregnancy check-up. So, if you’ve deliberately planned your dog’s pregnancy, you should make sure to check for signs of conception every day after the breeding session.
If your dog was accidentally knocked up by the neighbor dog (oh no!), you might not feel the need to check. Nonetheless, you should always keep an open eye for any signs of pregnancy in your pooch.
Now, if you don’t want to be surprised by your canine companion suddenly ejecting puppies from her body, consider having her neutered for safe measure.
The Basics of Caring for Your Dog During Pregnancy
So, your dog is pregnant. Congratulations! Very few pet parents experience the joy of seeing their beloved fur baby give birth to pups of her own. So it’s no surprise that being an expectant pet grandparent is a very exciting experience indeed.
Throughout her whole pregnancy, there are a few adjustments that you need to make to her usual routine to guarantee the wellbeing of her pups. This includes altering her diet, her exercise, and her general schedule.
In terms of the food she eats, there are specific numbers you can use as a guide to help you meet her daily needs while she’s pregnant:
- 29% protein
- 17% fat
- 8% calcium
- 6% phosphorous
These can all be provided by a high quality commercial diet. Be sure it’s palatable for your dog though, as a pregnant momma dog can be picky with the food she eats!
For her physical activity, just give her more rest, avoid letting her engage in too much play, and make sure she gets just enough walking time. More walking will prepare her hips for giving birth to her pups so she doesn’t struggle too much during labor.
How Long Do Dogs Stay Pregnant?
Now, the burning question – how long do dogs stay pregnant? The answer is – IT DEPENDS.
For the most part, dogs will stay pregnant anywhere between 58 and 68 days. Smaller breeds tend to give birth sooner because their bodies can only accommodate the fetuses up to a certain size. If the puppies get too big in the womb, smaller breeds might have to get Caesarean section procedure to birth the pups.
Some complications can lead to your dog giving birth sooner than she’s due. If she goes into labor before her pups are ready to be born, you might be looking at the tedious process of caring for preemie pups.
Be sure to brace yourself because most of the litter will probably cross the rainbow bridge before you’re ready to let them go. However, the ones that survive are likely to grow into normal healthy pups.
How Many Puppies Should I Expect?
Dogs can have litters that are as small as one, and as overwhelming as twelve. It should go without saying that a smaller toy breed will only be able to carry a small number of puppies in her womb. For instance, a typical Chihuahua litter can contain a maximum of just three puppies while a Saint Bernard can carry an average of 10 puppies during a single pregnancy.
Will My Dog Have to Undergo Caesarean Section?
Just like some human women struggle to give birth, some dogs will also have a hard time whelping. These instances include:
- Physically compromised dogs such as those with injuries, missing limbs, and medical conditions.
- Small dogs with narrow birth canals.
- Pregnant dogs with an abnormally large litter.
- Medically compromised puppies that require extra care during whelping.
For these cases, getting a caesarean section for your dog should be the safest alternative. You can schedule the process with your vet and prepare your dog for the procedure a few weeks or days before she’s due.
What to Do When Your Dog Goes into Labor
You’re sitting in your living room, watching your favorite show, and you notice your dog acting restless near her bed. She starts pawing at her blankets and beddings, as if preparing to lie down, but she continues to walk around aimlessly and urgently. At some point, she might start licking her vulva, and she could even vomit a little along the way. Yes, she’s about to give birth!
So what are you supposed to do to help her? Luckily for us pet parents, dogs instinctively know what they should do when they give birth, so they’re going to be doing most of the leg work.
Regardless, it’s important that you stand by in case your dog needs any help or assistance.
Observe your dog as she gives birth so you can act accordingly in case of an emergency. The first thing to look out for is a grayish sac that will fall from her vulva. Once you see this, you’ll know it’s showtime!
An hour after she passes this from her lady parts, she should give birth to the first of her litter. If she doesn’t you can go ahead and call your vet to ask if you should bring her to the clinic. Otherwise, you can just let her give birth where she is.
So, when should you step in to help? Keep an eye out for these instances:
- If mommy doesn’t remove the membrane that encloses each pup, you’ll have to break through it on your own to prevent them from suffocating.
- Mommy will instinctively lick her pups to encourage them to breathe. If she doesn’t, rub them gently with a clean towel.
- The umbilical cords will be licked off by the mom after each pup is born. If she doesn’t cut the cord to about an inch from the pup’s body, and tie dental floss around it at a half inch of the length. Dip the exposed end in some antiseptic to prevent infection.
Some Information on Doggy Miscarriage
While we don’t want to have to deal with the emotional and mental stress that comes with a puppy miscarriage, there’s really no figuring out whether or not it’s going to happen.
Most often, a dog’s body will spontaneously abort her pups if there’s something wrong with the litter, or with the mom herself. Usually, the most common reason for this is hormonal imbalance.
If you want to make sure that each pup has a fighting chance at life, make sure to have your dog tested before you breed her to foresee any potential pregnancy problems she might present once she conceives.
Caring for an expecting dog takes a lot more than just knowing the answer to the question, “How long do dogs stay pregnant?” Preparing everything around your dog will help ensure the health of each member of the litter.
Yes, puppies can be very cute but they’re also a lot of hard work! Always remember that caring for a dog extends beyond the puppy years and will take a lifetime of dedication from your end. However, if you care for them right, provide their needs, and love them with all your might, they will pay you back with more love and loyalty than anyone else.
Other Readings and Resources
Learn more about dog pregnancy and whelping by checking out these vetted sources for reliable information!