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Signs Your Dog Is Pregnant

Could puppies be in your pet’s future? Dogs are pregnant for about 63 days, which is measured from the day that they ovulate (release their eggs) to the day that their puppies are born. Like people, dogs are pregnant for three trimesters, each about 21 days long.

Here are a few ways to tell if your dog is pregnant:

Early Signs

In the first few weeks, there are very few outward signs, so you may not notice a change. Your dog will seem like her normal self, although she may gain some weight.

Morning sickness affects some dogs, but only for a few days during the 3rd or 4th week. (It's caused by hormone changes.) Your pet may seem tired, and she may eat less than usual. Some dogs throw up a little. If yours does, offer her small meals over the course of the day.

See Your Vet

If you think your dog is pregnant, take her to your vet. It's a good idea to take her for a prenatal checkup 2 or 3 weeks after she has mated. Your vet can answer any questions you may have, such as the type of food pregnant dogs should eat and what changes you should expect. If your pet needs any tests, your vet will let you know. If she has parasites, your vet will treat them.

During your visit, your vet can use ultrasound to see the growing puppies as early as 3 weeks in. Ultrasound is safe during pregnancy. It uses sound waves to create an image of your dog's womb.

The vet may give your dog a blood test to check her hormone levels. Dogs have higher levels of a hormone called relaxin when they're pregnant.

If you don't take your dog to the vet until her 4th week of pregnancy, the doctor can feel your dog's belly to confirm puppies are on the way. This method can only be used between the 28th and 35th days of pregnancy, and it should be done by someone who is trained. If you touch too roughly, you can harm the growing puppies or cause a miscarriage. Your vet can show you how to do this safely. The puppies will be the size of walnuts. They will be spaced out evenly along the uterus, which is shaped kind of like the letter V. Each half, called a horn, will have embryos in it.

Later Signs

By the end of your dog's second trimester, her belly will get bigger. Around this time (by day 40), her nipples will begin to get darker and larger, too. As your pet's due date gets closer, her breasts will enlarge, and a little milky fluid may trickle out.

Your vet may ask you to come back at the start of the third trimester (around day 45) if he wants to take X-rays of your dog's belly. This can be used instead of an ultrasound to check on the bone structure of growing puppies. It's one way to figure out how many puppies will be in your dog's litter.

As more time passes, your dog's pregnant belly will become larger, and it may sway gently beneath her as she walks.

During the last 2 weeks of pregnancy, you may see and feel the growing puppies moving inside your dog's belly. Your vet may want to see your pet one final time. Sometimes vets take X-rays during this visit to find out how many puppies are on the way. You'll learn what to expect when your dog is giving birth to her puppies (called whelping) and who to call if there is an emergency. You'll also find out how to care for newborn puppies.

WebMD Veterinary Reference

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on October 07, 2014

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