If your sweet pup has not been spayed, there is always a chance of pregnancy. Even a quick playdate with Fido in the neighbor’s yard can lead to the arrival of several little bundles of joy in the months ahead.
If an unexpected rendezvous has you wondering whether or not Daisy is pregnant, there are several signs to look for that can indicate your fur baby is no longer just your fur baby, but also about to be a fur mom. First, we’ll take a look at some of the basics.
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
The gestational period for pups is quite a bit shorter than it is for their human counterparts. Rather than nine months, dogs are pregnant for 62-64 days, or roughly two months, before giving birth.
What Methods are Used to Confirm Pregnancy?
The first signs of pregnancy generally don’t emerge until roughly a month into gestation. Oftentimes, this means by the time you find out Daisy is expecting, she’s already halfway to the finish line.
A fetal heart rate can usually be heard for the first time near the end of the first month – an exciting moment for any fur mama and her human owner.
Veterinarians have several methods of confirming canine pregnancy. Similar to human pregnancies, vets can use ultrasound and blood tests, or even X-rays and palpation.
Palpation – About one month into pregnancy, a veterinarian can palpate your dog’s abdomen to feel for the litter of puppies. As those sweet puppies are in sacs surrounded by fluid, the veterinarian will most likely feel small, circular objects roughly the size of a grapes or golf balls. This should only be performed by a veterinarian as it can cause damage to the litter if done incorrectly.
Ultrasound – Ultrasounds can also be performed roughly one month into pregnancy. This allows the veterinarian to hear the fetal heartbeat and estimate how many puppies are in your sweet furry friend’s tummy.
Blood Work – While human bloodwork checks for the presence of hCG, canine bloodwork tests for relaxin – a hormone that is unique to pregnancy and only present if your fur baby is carrying pups. This also is generally performed around the one-month mark.
X-Rays – While humans are generally advised not to get x-rays or have exposure to radiation during pregnancy, this is actually the most accurate method of determining your dog’s pregnancy status and how many pups she is carrying. This, however, cannot be completed until closer to the end, around day 55.
Signs Your Dog is Pregnant
If your mama instincts are telling you Daisy is pregnant before a veterinarian is able to confirm, you may very well be correct. If she is carrying a litter of pups, you may notice changes to her behavior including some of the following:
- Acting extra affectionate and cuddly
- Appearance of a swollen abdomen
- Increased appetite
- Increased nipple size
- Vomiting or decreased appetite in the days and weeks after conception
- Weight gain
These symptoms can mimic symptoms of other health conditions, so do not hesitate to take your pup to the vet if she starts acting out of the norm.
Caring For Your Pregnant Dog
It may be overwhelming or a complete surprise finding out your sweet babe is pregnant, but try to enjoy the moment and remain calm. Your veterinarian will support you throughout the journey, and there are even things you can do at home to help support the pregnancy and create a positive experience for you, your fur baby and her puppies.
Nutrition – Proper nutrition is important for your dog and those growing babies inside her. Be sure to speak to your vet about your pet’s specific needs, but in most healthy pregnancies, she won’t need extra calories at the beginning, so keep feeding her the same portion sizes at her regular mealtimes.
Towards the end of pregnancy, she will need to increase her food consumption by 35 to 50 percent. Your veterinarian can help assist with a food plan.
Exercise – It’s okay to continue your pup’s regular exercise routine, but near the end as Daisy prepares to give birth, it’s a good idea to cut out any strenuous activities. Feel free to keep taking short, light walks so Daisy can get the fresh air she’s craving while still conserving energy for the big labor and delivery.
Prenatal Care – Just like humans, dogs benefits from prenatal care as well. Make sure to bring Daisy to all prenatal check-ups to ensure both her and her puppies’ well-being, and call between appointments if you have any questions or concerns.
Extra TLC – Your sweet fur baby is undergoing a lot of changes right now, and she could greatly benefit from your extra support and tender loving care. Make sure to give her those extra cuddles and affection as she brings new life into the world – they will be wonderful memories the two of you will share for the rest of time.
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