You should be able to feel puppies move in a pregnant dog by the 40th day of their pregnancy. When trying to feel the movement of puppies, it’s important to apply gentle pressure. When she is lying on her side, you may even be able to see the puppies move!
If your dog is expecting puppies, congratulations! A new litter is always very exciting, and there is a lot to know about what your dog is going through. Being informed about every stage of your dog’s pregnancy, and what to expect about their behavior, will help make the process as smooth as possible.
One sure sign that the puppies are healthy is that they are moving around! To understand when you will feel this happening, it is important to understand the entire pregnancy process for dogs.
Stages of Heat
In the first stage, females will attract males for about nine days, but will not allow mating.
In the second stage, which lasts anywhere from 3 to 11 days, females will continue to attract males and allow them to mate.
When this second stage ends, around day 14, the female will no longer attract or allow mating and enter the time between her heat cycles.
Female dogs can become pregnant at any time during this second stage of heat. However, sperm from the male dog can also live in the reproductive tract for up to a week, so it’s challenging to narrow down exactly when your dog actually became pregnant.
Date of Conception
There is a significant window of time when conception could have happened, so it is not always easy to determine exactly where your dog is in her gestation.
Keeping track of breeding dates may make it easier to know how far along your dog is, as well as speaking with your vet if you suspect your intact female dog may be expecting.
How Can I Tell If My Dog is Pregnant?
It is a bit more challenging to determine if your dog became pregnant. The only way to know for sure is to visit the vet.
The vet will perform a hormone test, physical exam, x-ray, or ultrasound to confirm your suspicions.
The earliest your vet can tell if your dog is pregnant is around the 20th day of her gestation. Your vet can perform a hormone test or an ultrasound around the 20th or 21st day of your dog’s pregnancy to determine if she is having puppies.
Further into your dog’s pregnancy, around the 30th day, the vet can perform a physical exam to see how many puppies your dog is having. The puppies do like to hide, so it is possible you’ll be surprised when mom gives birth!
Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms
If you know your dog was mating while she was in heat, there are a few symptoms you can look for.
She may experience mucous discharge. Her teats or nipples may be larger in color and size and may produce a clear fluid. She may even get morning sickness.
Your dog will likely gain weight and have an increased appetite. As your dog becomes further along in her pregnancy, these symptoms will become increasingly apparent.
Pregnant dogs will also have a major change in behavior. Her personality may seem off–if she is typically affectionate, she may be standoffish, or the other way around.
As she progresses through her pregnancy, she may become grumpy. She is likely uncomfortable and ready to get those puppies out of her, so give her space and make sure she always has a comfortable place to rest.
Stages of Pregnancy
Dog’s gestation period lasts about 63 days, or two months. This is a relatively short amount of time, and many dogs do not show pregnancy symptoms until they are halfway to their due date.
In the first month of your dog’s pregnancy, the puppy embryos are embedded in the uterine lining.
The puppies start to take shape around day 22, and you can detect a heartbeat around day 28-30.
Things start to move very quickly in the second month of your dog’s pregnancy. By day 35, the puppies have developed eyelids and toes. By day 40, they have developed claws. By day 45, the puppies have a fully developed skeleton and a coat.
As the puppies become fully developed, you’ll see more visible symptoms of pregnancy in your dog. She will be much hungrier, urinating more, and will have gained a visible amount of weight. Her abdomen will be enlarged and firm.
Around this time, you will be able to see the puppies moving around! By day 40, you should be able to see the puppies move in their mom’s abdomen.
If you carefully observe your dog while she is lying down, you will see the faint movement of the puppies. If you lay your handle gently on her side and wait patiently, you should be able to feel them as well.
It is crucial to be gentle with your dog as you try to feel for the movement of the puppies. Apply very gentle inward pressure with an open palm to feel the puppies wiggling. You can also use a stethoscope to hear the puppies’ heartbeat.
Do not panic if you cannot detect either of these things every time. The puppies have periods of inactivity, so you may not always be able to see or feel them moving.
As your dog enters the second month of her pregnancy, you will clearly be able to tell she is expecting.
Her appetite will increase, as she is eating for a lot more than just herself! Feed her small, frequent meals throughout the day to keep up her strength.
Keep her exercise light but regular. Take her for a gentle stroll when it’s not too hot or cold outside.
Playtime with other dogs is okay, as long as they take it easy. It is important to find a balance between not letting her be over-exerted, but also not letting her be a couch potato.
What Happens When My Dog Goes Into Labor?
The puppies are finished developing around day 58 and will begin to move into the birth canal for labor.
As your dog gets into the final stage of her pregnancy, you will notice her nesting, or trying to build a safe, comfortable spot for delivery.
You can help her in this process by finding a quiet area for her and encouraging her to nest there.
Her favorite clean toys and some bedding can make her feel comfortable. You may also want to line the area with potty pads or something else that can easily be cleaned up once delivery is finished.
Somewhere around day 60-65, your dog will go into labor! They can go into labor late or early, mostly because it is hard to determine when she actually conceived her puppies.
You’ll notice a definitive shift in your dog’s behavior. As she goes into labor, she will be restless, and you may see her pacing and panting.
You will see clear vaginal discharge and she will spend time near her nest as she gets ready to give birth to her puppies.
Once your dog begins labor, try your best to leave her be. It is a very natural process, and the puppies should be delivered smoothly.
She may like to be talked to in a gentle voice to help her through the process, but should be able to complete it independently.
One puppy will come out at a time, and each puppy usually takes 1-2 hours. Your dog will take a 30-60 minute break between puppies.
Having a general idea of how many puppies she is having can help you know when she is almost finished.
After the process is over, congratulations! You have a new litter of puppies to enjoy and watch grow.
Work with your veterinarian to make sure the puppies and their mom are in excellent health, and have fun watching their first few weeks of life together.
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