A term of pregnancy in dogs lasts for about 9 weeks, which is delightful, yet testing time for you as the owner. This post has information on all aspects of how to handle your dog’s pregnancy.
Did You Know?
Regardless of the breed, the gestation period―from the day of ovulation to the day of whelping―lasts for an average of 63 days in dogs.
Now that you’re past the tough job of selecting the right sire for your dam (yes, that’s the politically correct term now), it’s time to look forward to welcoming her gorgeous puppies. But before that, you’d have to go through your pet’s pregnancy and provide her with all the comforts and assistance from your side.
Which makes it imperative for you to learn about the different stages in a dog’s pregnancy―what to expect and what not to, things to watch out for, and so on. These 9-odd weeks amount to a crucial time in your dog’s life, and yours as well; so buck up and educate yourself about it.
PREGNANCY CALENDAR FOR DOGS
|One||0 – 7||Ovulation and fertilization|
|Two||8 – 14||Creation of embryos|
|Three||15 – 21||Embryos implant in uterus|
|Four||22 – 28||Fetuses begin to develop|
|Five||29 – 35||Amniotic fluid increases|
|Six||36 – 42||Puppies develop markings|
|Seven||43 – 49||Shedding of hair on belly|
|Eight||50 – 56||Dam begins nesting|
|Nine||57 – 65||Time for whelping|
The date of ovulation is counted as day 0―the gestation period commences from this day onward. Doing so makes it easy to calculate the due date. Ovulation occurs in the first week, which may be followed by another mating session. The female’s ova are fertilized by the male spermatozoa. It isn’t possible to note the exact date of ovulation unless you take your dog to the vet. However, morning sickness is regarded as an early sign of pregnancy in dogs.
Ensure that you fulfil your dam’s dietary needs after consulting with the vet. Refrain from giving your dog any medication or flea treatments without a go-ahead from the doctor.
In the second week, the cells begin to separate, forming individual embryos. These then descend into the uterus, and are well-protected in the dam’s uterine membrane. If your dam’s heat period has ended, you may begin to groom her as usual.
The third week sees the embryos embed into the uterus lining, from where they begin to sustain. They are then covered in a protective membrane―the placenta―which is expelled when the dam gives birth. You must continue feeding your dam as prescribed, and indulge her in light exercise.
It’s time for an ultrasound check―this is when the vet is able to establish the size of the litter and more importantly, detect abnormalities, if any. The fetuses begin to develop their eyes and spines in this week. This is a crucial week for their development; a time when they may be most susceptible to developing defects. Do consult the vet regarding any dietary changes, and refrain your dog from indulging in any kind of rough play.
The development of the fetuses begins to speed up from this week onward. With roughly a month to go before she gives birth, your dog needs extra attention and care as well. The level of aminiotic fluid increases to protect the ever-growing puppies, and they begin to develop rapidly. You’ll also notice an increase in the dam’s weight. Her dietary requirements expand to include more proteins and minerals. You may also observe a slight dip in her appetite, but you must ensure that she has her prescribed meals. Consult the vet for a specialized diet plan which is breed-specific.
The growth in the dam’s tummy becomes rather obvious by the sixth week. The puppies begin to develop markings on their skin―which basically determine their eventual looks. In this week, you can begin preparing a whelping box for your dam. This box should be well-padded, warm, and comfortable, and kept in a quiet, dark area of the house. Make sure that your dam feels protected to camp in it, and is given ample privacy.
The dam begins to shed hair from the belly region as her body begins to prepare for birth. By this time, the puppies are almost completely formed. Your vet may suggest de-worming your dog, as parasites can be a big threat to newborn puppies and the mother as well. Let your dog make herself comfortable in her whelping box.
With the puppies’ development complete, it is now time to take the dam to the vet for an x-ray. This reveals the exact number of puppies she is carrying―armed with this information, you can be sure that no puppy remains undelivered while whelping. You’ll notice that your dam has begun nesting―carrying her favorite items to her whelping box, and perhaps even storing some food there. Clean the bedding in the box regularly, and ensure that the box and the room is sufficiently warm. With roughly one week to go before she gives birth, milk begins to flow from the dam’s teats.
You’re almost there! You will notice that your dam now prefers to remain in her whelping box most of the time. Prepping for the birth, her vulva will dilate and the pelvic ligaments will relax so that the puppies can comfortably pass through. Most importantly, ensure that you never leave your dog alone at anytime in this week, as she is really close to giving birth. Your vet will recommend that you take her rectal temperature three times a day. Look out for a drop of around one degree as compared to the average of the previous days―this indicates that whelping will occur in the next few hours, extending to about 24-30 hours.
Handling a pet dog’s pregnancy can be overwhelming, certainly. Therefore, it is important to educate oneself about the entire process to be in a better position to help your dog give birth. Never hesitate to consult a vet at the slightest sign of discomfort or abnormality.