Using palpation, vets can feel puppies move after five weeks of pregnancy. For owners, they can often feel the puppies at around six weeks onwards, while at seven weeks, you may even see them move under the skin.
At six weeks, the growing pups are 45mm or larger and have sexual organs. Near seven weeks, the puppies are even more enlarged, and their bones are almost fully developed. However, that does not mean the puppies are strong enough to combat frequent palpation.
If you feel for the pups, place your flat palm softly against the dog’s abdomen and wait patiently for the puppies to adjust their position. Do not be tempted to punch or push the mother’s belly with your fingers since this can cause harm to the puppies. Furthermore, avoid stressing the mother too much by feeling her abdomen, and if she refuses to allow you to touch her, don’t force her to obey.
Dog’s Stages of Heat
Females will attract males for around nine days during the initial stage, though it will not allow mating.
In the second stage, which lasts between 3-11 days, females will attract males and allow mating. Once this second stage is over, the female will no longer attract or allow mating.
A female dog can become pregnant at any time during this second phase of heat. Nevertheless, sperm from the male dog can stay in the reproductive region for up to seven days. So, it is difficult to know exactly when your dog becomes pregnant.
There is a significant time window when conception could have occurred, so it is not often easy to determine exactly when your dog is in her gestation. However, observing breeding dates can make it easier to determine how far along your dog is. Or you can speak with your vet when you suspect your dog might be expecting.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant
It can be a little challenging to know whether your dog has become pregnant. The only way to be sure is to consult your vet. A vet will conduct a physical exam, hormone test, ultrasound, or x-ray to confirm your uncertainty.
The soonest your vet can confirm whether your dog is pregnant is around the 20th day of her gestation. Your vet can conduct an ultrasound or a hormone test to determine whether she has pups between the 20th and 21st day of your dog’s pregnancy.
Along with your dog’s pregnancy, your vet may perform a physical exam around the 30th day to tell how many puppies your dog is carrying. The pups love to hide, so you are likely to be surprised when a mother gives birth.
6 Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms
If you have correctly planned your breeding, a few physical signs show that your breeding was successful.
1. A Larger Belly
Like humans, pregnant dogs will have an enlarged belly as the pregnancy progress. But keep in mind that a large abdomen might sometimes be a symptom of a disease.
2. Increased Appetite
Keep an eye on any changes in your dog’s appetite. A pregnant dog may eat more than usual. However, just like humans, a pregnant dog may experience morning sickness that causes it to vomit and loss appetite. But unlike humans, morning sickness in a pregnant dog ends quickly; it often lasts for a few days.
3. Increased Nipple and Breast Size
The breast size of a pregnant dog will increase significantly while its nipples will become swollen. You may even see some discharge of milky fluid from the nipples.
4. Body Discharge
You will detect a continuous mucous discharge from the vulva when your dog is pregnant.
5. Gain in Weight
As she progresses through her pregnancy, the dog’s weight will begin to rise. She is likely to gain 15%-25% of weight, depending on the number of pups she is having.
6. Change in Behavior
Pregnant dogs may have a significant behavior change. Your dog’s personality might feel off if the creature is often friendly. Your dog may become antisocial and hostile.
Your dog may become grumpy as she progresses through her pregnancy. She is possibly restless and ready to remove those pups out of herself. So, always give her space and ensure she has a comfortable room to rest.
Note that your dog could experience phantasm pregnancy where it displays the signs of pregnancy, but it is not pregnant. Your dog may gain weight, have swollen nipples and breasts, show nesting behavior, but it is not carrying any pups. But that is a rare incident that occurs only in dogs.
If your dog is having a phantom pregnancy, consult your veterinarian for a solution.
Caring for a Pregnant Dog
Once you have confirmed that your dog is pregnant, you should take a few actions to ensure that she remains healthy throughout her pregnancy.
One of the most crucial things you can do to your pregnant dog is to make sure she gets proper nutrition. If your dog is currently on a good quality dog diet and is in a healthy condition, you will not have to make changes to her food for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy. The fortunate fact is that increasing the amount of food at this phase can be harmful.
As her weight rises during the last weeks of her pregnancy, it is advisable to increase her food consumption slowly until she consumes 35% to 59% more than usual. Increase her intake gradually and give her small, frequent meals since sizeable meals may cause discomfort.
When breeding your dog, reducing heavy activities during the first two weeks of gestation will enhance the embryo’s implantation. However, after this stage, regular exercise is good until your dog’s belly becomes enlarged. In its last trimester, the ideal activity for your dog should not be cumbersome.
Short and regular walks will benefit your pregnant dog since she requires her energy to carry the puppies and provide them with nutrition.
Ask your vet to give a vaccination to your dog during her pregnancy. If her vaccination is obsolete, it is always advisable to vaccinate your dog before she becomes pregnant.
It is essential to have your pregnant dog undergo various check-ups during the entire pregnancy period. That will assure the health of your dog and its pups.
Signs Your Dog Is In Labor
Prepare the essential kit for your dog when the time to give birth is near. After 64 days or more, the gestation period is over. Observe some of the following signs in your pregnant dog.
Your dog’s pregnancy is a very thrilling moment, and hopefully, it will go without complications. However, it is crucial to have the support of a veterinarian to perform tests, examine the pups, and make sure all is well before birth. Keep in mind that not all pregnant dogs will show puppies moving. So do not be anxious if they are not as visible as you expected.
Featured Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock