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:
In the first few weeks, there are very few outward signs, so you may not notice a change. Your dog will seem like their normal self, although they 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 they may eat less than usual. Some dogs throw up a little. If yours does, offer them small meals over the course of the day.
See Your Vet
If you think your dog is pregnant, take them to your vet. It's a good idea to take them for a prenatal checkup 2 or 3 weeks after they have 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 they have parasites, your vet will treat them.
During your visit, your vet can use ultrasound to see the growing puppies, typically around 4 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 their 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 their 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. 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.
By the end of your dog's second trimester, their belly will get bigger. Around this time (by day 40), their nipples will begin to get darker and larger, too. As your pet's due date gets closer, their 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 they want 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 them as they walk.
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 and make sure they are not too big to pass through the birth canal. If they have gotten too big, the vet will schedule a c-section.
You'll learn what to expect when your dog is giving birth to their puppies (called whelping) and who to call if there is an emergency. You'll also find out how to care for newborn puppies.