The gestation period for dogs is relatively short (63days plus or minus 5days), so it can be difficult to tell whether a bitch is pregnant until the last few weeks of her nine-week gestation period (A dog may not show any signs of pregnancy in the first 2-3 weeks ) . In order not to miss some of the early signs of pregnancy you need to pay close attention to your dog’s habits. The best way to find out is obviously by taking her to a vet, but being aware of her condition beforehand can be helpful. Here are some of the signs that your pet is preggos.
Change in Behaviour
One of the early signs of pregnancy your dog will exhibit is a change in behaviour. She’s likely to have a decrease in energy level and she’ll play less than usual. Dogs are also usually more affectionate and snuggly than usual during this time.
Change in Appetite
Your pet is likely to have a decrease in appetite at the beginning of pregnancy, as her pregnancy progresses to later stages her appetite will increase. It’s usually a good idea to increase their food intake by about 25% during pregnancy and lactation period.
Change in Nipple Development
There is normally a change is colour and size of the nipples. By the last 3weeks of pregnancy, her nipples will get bigger and possibly start to produce milk (especially the nipples closest to her hind legs).
Enlarged Abdomen and Body Weight Increase
Pregnancy gets more obvious physically from the 3rd week, her belly gets bigger and there’s an increase in weight as her due date approaches. A pregnant dog’s body shape doesn’t change until the second half of pregnancy. Between about 4 – 5 weeks her waist begins to thicken and her tummy fills out.
Dogs with false pregnancy can exhibit any of these symptoms, which is why going to a vet is the best bet. Unlike humans, there is no urine or blood test to determine pregnancy in dogs. However, a hormonal test can be done at about 30days into pregnancy.
By the 3rd week into pregnancy, a vet can feel/tell if she has bred or not through palpation or ultrasound. Ultrasounds are usually a great idea because it allows you see the number of puppies and how large they are.
At the about 6 weeks into pregnancy, an X-ray can be done and you get to see the skeletons developing, if an x-ray is done before the 6th week the puppies won’t be spotted because the bones won’t have calcified before this time.
Finally, ensure you prepare for whelping by providing a warm, dry and clean place with a nesting box or whelping box for the bitch and her puppies.
Photo Credit: breedingbusiness.com/dog-whelping-timeline-from-mating-to-delivery/