The first time you have a pregnant dog, you're sure to have a lot of questions. How long are dogs pregnant? How will I know if my dog is pregnant? Should I do anything different for her during this time? These questions are normal, and the answers below will start your preparation for a litter of puppies.
Dog pregnancy lasts around 2 months. A typical pregnancy for dogs will last from 55 to 65 days. (If you have questions about the pre-pregnancy stage, see the post How Long Are Dogs In Heat? for answers.) During the first month she's pregnant, your dog will show significant signs of pregnancy:
• Lower activity level
• Nipples appear larger
• Vomiting (some dogs, not all)
• Weight gain
Your veterinarian will be able to determine if your dog is pregnant about 3 weeks after ovulation. Your vet may manually feel for puppies in your dog’s abdomen or use an ultrasound to visually confirm pregnancy. This ultrasound is safe for both the pregnant dog and her puppies.
During the second month, you’ll see more obvious signs of pregnancy in your dog. Her belly will be much larger and may appear to swing as she moves. In the final weeks, you may even be able to see the puppies move in her abdomen.
Both the mother dog and puppies need exceptional care through pregnancy. Your dog needs to be in good health to get through pregnancy and delivery safely, and this stage is the foundation for the puppies' lifelong health. Good care for a pregnant dog includes:
• Visit the vet for regular checkups to make sure the pregnancy is progressing the way it should.
• Feed her high quality food. If her regular food is good quality, you can continue feeding it throughout her pregnancy with higher amounts in the second month. Your vet may recommend mixing her regular food with a good puppy food in the second month. Ask your vet if you have any questions about your pregnant dog’s diet.
• Exercise her so she maintains her health. Avoid strenuous activity, especially in later stages of pregnancy.
• Prepare yourself for what to expect during delivery, how to help her, and what you will do if any complications arise. Make sure you have the phone number of your regular vet and an emergency vet on hand.
How long are dogs pregnant? Only about 2 months, so the window to take care of your dog and prepare yourself is short. Make sure you do everything you can in this time to take care of your dog and give her puppies a good start in life.
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Photo credit: Katie Brady