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Pregnancy Signs In Dogs

Pregnancy Signs in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

Pregnancy in dogs, also known as gestation, is a crucial period that requires special care and attention. Understanding the signs of pregnancy can help you provide the best possible support for your beloved companion. This comprehensive guide will delve into the various physical, behavioral, and hormonal changes that indicate canine pregnancy, providing you with the knowledge to navigate this exciting journey.

Physical Signs

  • Enlarged Abdomen: As the puppies grow, the abdomen will gradually expand, becoming more noticeable around the third or fourth week of pregnancy.
  • Weight Gain: Dogs typically gain weight during pregnancy, especially in the later stages. The weight gain is primarily due to the developing puppies, placenta, and amniotic fluid.
  • Swollen Vulva: The vulva, or external female genitalia, may become slightly swollen and pinker in color during pregnancy.
  • Increased Appetite: Pregnant dogs often experience an increased appetite to support the nutritional demands of their growing litter.
  • Nesting Behavior: As the due date approaches, dogs may start exhibiting nesting behavior, such as gathering blankets or toys to create a comfortable and safe space for their puppies.

Behavioral Signs

  • Lethargy and Fatigue: Pregnant dogs may become more lethargic and tired as their energy is diverted towards supporting the developing puppies.
  • Reduced Activity: Dogs may engage in less physical activity during pregnancy, preferring to rest and conserve their energy.
  • Mood Swings: Some dogs may experience mood swings during pregnancy, becoming more affectionate or irritable at times.
  • Increased Thirst and Urination: As the puppies grow, they press on the bladder, leading to increased urination and thirst in the pregnant dog.
  • Changes in Sleep Patterns: Pregnant dogs may have disrupted sleep patterns, waking up more frequently to adjust their position or relieve discomfort.

Hormonal Changes

  • Relaxin: This hormone relaxes the ligaments and muscles in the pelvic area, preparing the body for birth.
  • Progesterone: This hormone supports the maintenance of the pregnancy and inhibits uterine contractions.
  • Estrogen: This hormone plays a role in the development of the mammary glands and prepares the body for lactation.

Duration of Pregnancy

The average gestation period in dogs is approximately 63 days, or 9 weeks, from the time of conception. However, it can vary slightly depending on the breed and individual dog. Smaller breeds tend to have shorter gestation periods, while larger breeds may have slightly longer ones.

Confirming Pregnancy

While the signs mentioned above can provide an indication of pregnancy, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian for confirmation. They can perform various tests, such as:

  • Physical Examination: Your veterinarian will palpate the abdomen to feel for the presence of puppies and assess the size of the uterus.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound can provide a clear image of the puppies, their heartbeat, and the placenta.
  • Blood Test: A blood test can detect elevated levels of the hormone relaxin, which is indicative of pregnancy.

Care During Pregnancy

Pregnant dogs require special care and attention to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and her puppies. Here are some key considerations:

  • Nutrition: Provide a high-quality diet that is rich in protein and calories to support the increased nutritional demands of pregnancy.
  • Exercise: Encourage moderate exercise, such as short walks, to maintain the dog’s fitness without overexerting her.
  • Supplements: Your veterinarian may recommend supplements, such as calcium and iron, to support the dog’s health during pregnancy.
  • Veterinary Checkups: Regular veterinary checkups are crucial to monitor the dog’s health, assess the puppies’ development, and prepare for birth.
  • Comfortable Environment: Provide a comfortable and safe space for the pregnant dog to rest and nest.

Preparing for Birth

As the due date approaches, it is essential to prepare for the birth of the puppies. Here are some steps to take:

  • Create a Whelping Box: Set up a whelping box, or a designated area, where the dog can give birth safely and comfortably.
  • Gather Supplies: Stock up on essential supplies, such as clean towels, blankets, a heating pad, and a suction bulb for clearing the puppies’ airways.
  • Contact Your Veterinarian: Inform your veterinarian about the expected due date and make arrangements for assistance if needed.


Pregnancy in dogs is a beautiful and rewarding experience. By understanding the signs of pregnancy and providing proper care, you can ensure the health and well-being of your beloved companion and her precious litter. Remember to consult with your veterinarian regularly for guidance and support throughout this special journey.

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