Welcoming a new member in the family is always exciting, whether it involves people or pets!  However unlike human’s, the canine gestation period lasts only for 63 days, and the pups usually are delivered between 58 to 63 days.

Are there pregnancy test sticks available for dogs?  Not really!  But your vet will be able to detect her pregnancy feeling her abdomen, in about 26 to 35 days of breeding; you could confirm it and tell the number of puppies with an exclusive blood/hormone test, x-ray or an ultra sound at a vet clinic.   

The physical and behavioral changes your dog will go through:

  1. 1.  Weight gain
  2. 2.  Abdominal enlargement
  3. 3.  Enlargement of the mammary glands
  4. 4.  Secretion of milk towards the end
  5. 5.  Restlessness and irritability
  6. 6.  Nest building – She might be shredding papers and wrestling with blankets in an attempt to build a nest for herself and her puppies.
  7. 7.  Hiding - Pregnant dogs may like to hide or stay away, wanting to be alone; or from another extreme, could cling on to you wanting some support and reassurance.
  8. 8.  Energy differences - Some dogs may show a lot of excitement, as a way to cope with the anxiety; while other dogs may lie dormant – sleeping all the time.  It is necessary, these dogs are encouraged to get limited exercise before and after the delivery.

Suggestions to help your pregnant dog:

Pregnancy is a unique experience full of anxieties and doubts; it is not different for your dog!  As a pet parent the best way you can offer support is to follow this list.

  1. 1.  Give a lot of love, understanding, and reassurance!  It is important you keep the familiar surroundings, as your pet needs a firm ground (emotionally also) to deliver her babies.
  2. 2.  Her nutritional needs are more now, so make sure you give her a good quality balanced food and nutritional supplements.  During the final stages of delivery and during nursing - some veterinarians suggest feeding a higher calorie food like puppy chow.
  3. 3.  Provide plenty of water to meet with her need for fluids.  After the delivery, Make sure to leave food and water close to her nest, so that she doesn’t have to exert herself to get it.
  4. 4.  Give frequent portions of small meals.
  5. 5.  She needs some exercise, like light play and short walks.
  6. 6.  Create a whelping area, with about 8” card board (to prevent the pups from slipping out) with newspaper bedding; encourage the mother to sleep in it, so she will know to deliver the puppies in it.
  7. 7.  Taking a rectal temperature twice during the last week of pregnancy period (From the 58th day), could give you a better idea of the delivery.  Normally the rectal temperature varies between 100.5 and 102 degree Fahrenheit.  But the rectal temperature drops nearly 2 degrees before the labor begins.
  8. 8.  The final phase of labor and delivery can be divided into 3 stages.
  •  - The first stage lasts for 6 to 24 hours where the mother experiences extreme anxiety and restlessness. She may show this anxiety by refusing food or even her favorite treats and pacing around the floor irritably.  Encourage her to walk mildly, as it will help her to urinate/defecate.
  • -  The second stage involves contractions and the actual delivery of the puppies.  Consult your vet to understand the proper delivery process.  Allow a lot of space and quiet for the birthing to happen.
  • -  This last post-delivery stage lasts for half hour to even two or more hours.  This is a resting stage, allowing the tired mother to rest and recuperate.

New born puppy care:

Puppies should start nursing their mother right away.   New born puppies need to take adequate amount of colostrum, to stay healthy.  Some new mothers may not know much about taking care of the puppies.   If the litter is large, all puppies may not have the same opportunity to nurse the mother; at times the weaker puppies may be pushed out.  As a pet parent, you need to make sure all puppies get a chance to nurse the mother.  However, if you think that is not happening, supplement it with puppy formula.   When in doubt please talk to your veterinarian immediately. 

Reference: Claws & Paws vet. Hospitals.