Dog Pregnancy Calendar
Your Dog Is Expecting Pups, Now What?
Getting a litter of new puppies can be one of the most exciting things that a dog owner can experience. The good news is that dogs tend to be pretty self-sufficient and have plenty of built-in instincts to handle a pregnancy on their own.
However, to keep your dog as comfortable as possible and ensure the safety and health of the puppies, there are several things steps you should take to make the pregnancy go as smoothly as possible.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a stressful thing if you know how to prepare and how to handle emergencies. To start, let’s breakdown a dog’s pregnancy timeline.
The Canine Pregnancy Timeline
While a human’s pregnancy lasts nine months, a dog’s only goes on for about nine weeks! However, like people, this is only an average, and your new puppies may arrive in as little as 56 days or up to 70 days. Consequently, if your dog goes into labor earlier than 8 weeks or hasn’t given birth by 10 weeks, you’re going to want to contact an emergency veterinarian.
After mating, several eggs will be fertilized high up in the uterus and slowly travel down until implanting on the uterine wall by the end of the first week.
This does produce a series of hormonal changes in your dog, but since this is so early in development, there won’t be any noticeable physical changes. Your dog shouldn’t exhibit any strange behaviors if everything is in order.
At this point, you can continue to feed your dog and play with them regularly.
The developing embryos don’t need too many extra calories to grow, so there is no need to modify your dog’s diet. However, to reduce stress, we recommend carefully grooming your dog.
Be sure to monitor your dog’s weight carefully. From this point until about day 35 or the end of week 5, your dog’s weight should stay the same. If her weight begins to drop, the puppies may be at risk. You should seek out veterinary care as soon as possible.
The puppies at this stage are covered in a protective membrane that supplies them with nutrients. However, there still won’t be any noticeable changes in your dog’s appearance. So, there is still no need to change your dog’s routine or activities. That said, she may start to have a bigger appetite so a little more food won’t hurt.
This is the stage where you should take your dog to the vet, even if she looks completely fine. By the middle of this week, or day 25, a vet can do an ultrasound so you can find out how many puppies to expect. In addition to getting an idea of the health of the pups, the vet can spot any noteworthy developmental abnormalities.
By this point, the puppies have ended embryogenesis, and distinct organs have begun to form. For this reason, the puppy fetuses will begin to gain weight quickly. Consequently, by the end of this stage of the pregnancy, your dog should start to put on considerable weight as well.
To address this, you should feed your dog more, though we suggest consulting your vet to get an exact amount.
At this point in the pregnancy, your dog’s puppies will develop even more distinct organs and tissues – including claws! To provide enough nutrients to your puppies and the mother, you’re going to want to change your dog’s diet. This is particularly important since some dogs actually seem to have a decrease in appetite due to the discomfort caused by the pregnancy.
To prevent your dog and her puppies from suffering a nutrient and calorie deficiency, we recommend feeding her a high-energy, high-nutrition dog food formulated for pregnant dogs. To make the transition easier, you should mix the new formula with the old dog food incrementally over the course of the week.
About 40 to 49 days into the pregnancy, the puppies have developed hair, but the coat has yet to develop fully. Their bones aren’t fully solidified but have begun to take shape. To protect them from parasites, you should make sure that your dog has received worm treatment.
To ensure your dog is comfortable giving birth, you should set up a clean, safe space away from foot traffic and noise. This will be your dog’s nursery to give birth in a few weeks.
By week 8, the puppies’ skeletons have solidified, and in preparation for the litter, your dog’s teats will begin to swell with milk. To keep her comfortable and make the birthing and nursing process easier, you might want to trim the hair around your dog’s vulva and nipples.
You may want to get an x-ray to be sure of how many puppies you should expect.
Preparing for Delivery and the Unexpected
By week nine, the puppies can arrive any day. You should triple check to make sure the birthing area is ready and that the location is fairly warm. The room’s temperature should be around 86 degrees Fahrenheit during the first 24 hours after birth to prevent the newly born puppies from getting too cold.
After that, reduce the temperate to 77° F to make your dog comfortable but still keep the puppies warm.
In the days before she goes into labor and while she’s in the middle of giving birth, keep your dog as comfortable and stress-free as possible. As we brought up earlier, her natural instincts have prepared her for the pregnancy and labor. Labor times vary and can be as quick as a few minutes or last for several hours.
When the first puppy is delivered, the mother will likely tear open the fetal sack, though you can if she doesn’t. However, you shouldn’t try to pull the puppies free during delivery as this can cause harm to the puppies and the mom.
Litter sizes vary, but most dogs carry and give birth to 5 to 6 puppies, Smaller breeds may only give birth to 3 to 4 puppies. Larger breeds, like Labradors, often give birth to 7 to 8 puppies.
Once the puppies have been delivered, your dog may eat the placenta, but if she doesn’t, you can discard it like you would any other form of organic waste. And to make her recovery easier, you can help by gently rubbing the puppies dry with a clean, dry towel and place them near a nipple.
Of course, if you have any questions or experience any issues, be sure to consult your vet immediately.