What to Expect When Your Dog Is Expecting

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If you have a female dog in your home, you might be wondering whether she is pregnant. This question may be particularly salient if she was in heat recently and has been around male dogs in an off-leash area like Norwood Estate Dog Park or Onion Creek Greenbelt. Knowing what to expect when your furry friend is expecting can help you provide the best care for her during pregnancy and birth. Here’s what you need to know if you suspect your dog may have puppies on the way.

How to Know if Your Dog Is Pregnant

The most obvious sign your dog is pregnant is enlarged or swollen nipples. This sign is one of the earliest symptoms that she has puppies in her belly, and it will appear about a month into the pregnancy. Her tummy will also start to expand, continuing as the pregnancy progresses.

Other early signs include lethargy, appetite changes, and nesting behavior. Some dogs may exhibit morning sickness and vomiting as early as three weeks into pregnancy. Later on, your dog may start looking for cozy spaces in your home to prepare for birth. Pay attention to these clues in the early stages of pregnancy.

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

The normal gestation period for dogs is approximately 58 to 68 days. The average is around 63 days, or about nine weeks. The dog’s size can influence how long she will remain pregnant. Larger breeds, for example, may carry puppies for a week longer. Unlike humans, detecting pregnancy in dogs during the first two to three weeks is not usually possible. It takes time before physical changes become noticeable.

Can a Dog Get Pregnant When Not in Heat?

Dogs can only get pregnant while in heat. Their heat cycles happen about twice per year and last around two to three weeks.

Here’s what to know about your dog’s cycles:

How Long Are Dogs in Heat?

On average, a dog’s heat cycle lasts 18-21 days. However, it can range from as short as ten days to as long as four weeks or more.

How Often Do Dogs Go Into Heat?

Most dogs go into heat twice per year or about every six months. However, keep in mind that cycles can be irregular when dogs are young. Small breeds may go into heat more frequently, while giant breeds may only cycle once a year.

How to Tell If a Dog Is in Heat

Signs your dog is in heat include:

  • Swollen genitals
  • Blood-tinged discharge
  • Excessive licking
  • Clingy behavior
  • Aggression toward male dogs
  • “Flagging,” or holding her tail off to one side
  • Other behavioral changes

These signs mean your dog can get pregnant during this time, so you can start to look for pregnancy symptoms in the following few weeks.

pregnant dog

Tips for Caring for Pregnant Dogs

If you think your pooch is expecting, here are some tips for giving her the best care during her pregnancy:

  • Feed her high-quality puppy food for extra nutrition.
  • Create a whelping box with blankets and toys for comfort.
  • Limit exercise to short leash walks and avoid jumping or rough play.
  • Explain to any young children in your home that they must be extra careful when playing with the dog while she is pregnant.
  • Regularly groom your dog and carefully trim the fur around the nipples for cleanliness.
  • Take your dog to the vet for checkups to ensure the pregnancy is progressing smoothly.
  • Prepare an emergency kit for the birth, including towels, gloves, scissors, and dental floss (to tie off the umbilical cords).

Taking these steps will optimize your chances of keeping your pregnant dog happy and healthy throughout the pregnancy and whelping process.

Contact Walk! ATX for Help with Your Pregnant Pooch

Having a pregnant dog can be an exciting time, and bringing new puppies into the world will bring joy to everyone who meets them. However, don’t be surprised if you are also feeling stressed. After all, you want to make sure that your furry friend is getting all the care and tenderness she needs at this important time. Fortunately, you don’t have to face this challenge alone.

If you need an extra set of hands with your expecting fur baby, the pet care pros at Walk! ATX can help. We offer dog walking, pet sitting, puppy playtime, and more for the Austin area. Our team has experience with pregnant and nursing mama dogs. Call (512) 655-9557 to learn more about our pregnancy and puppy care services.