How Long is the Gestation Period for Dogs

As a dog owner one of the most important things we should know about our dogs is their health. It is very important to learn when your female dog begins to go into heat and what you can do to help her through the process. The first thing you need to know is that your dog will go into heat twice a year which will last usually about 3 weeks.

But what happens while she is in her heat cycle and she breeds with a male dog? If you have an idea that your dog could be pregnant the smart thing to do would be to take her to your local veterinarian  to find out. Gestation is the period when the young are developing in the mother’s uterus. In dogs, this period usually lasts about 9 weeks ( 63 days). However, the puppies could be delivered between 58 and 68 days.

I understand that this process may be hard on some dog owners, but here is some information about a dog’s pregnancy and what you should know:

1. Diagnosis

There are no blood or urine tests available to confirm whether your dog is pregnant. The earliest time of diagnosis may be about 26-35 days after breeding. This is when the doctor will be able to detect the pregnancy at an 85% accuracy rate, this is done by feeling the dogs abdomen. After about 45 days and x-ray may be done with about a 95% accuracy rate.

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2. Physical Changes

During about the first 5 weeks of pregnancy there are not that many noticeable changes. After the 5th week though you may begin to notice some weight gain, especially with large litters. If there are only 1 or 2 pups present the mother may gain little weight until right before she gives birth. Enlarged abdominal is usually obvious in the last 3 weeks. The mammary glands may begin to enlarge as early as the 35th day, but usually development is not obvious until 45 days. About 7-9 days before delivery milk may be present, however generally it does not become present until 1-2 days before delivery.

3. Behavioral Changes

The female dog may show a change in behavior during the pregnancy, especially during the last few weeks. As your dogs uterus enlarges she may become restless, seek seclusion or in the last couple of days soil the house. She may shred papers, blankets, or bedding in an attempt at nest building in the last weeks. During about the last 2 weeks she may become irritable and should avoid contact with small children.

4. Nutrition

Eating good nutritional food is essential for healthy mothers and puppies. During about the first 4 weeks, nutritional needs change little, but feeding small amounts of high protein supplements, such as eggs, lean muscle meats or live is a great practice. During the last 5 weeks your dogs nutritional needs nearly double. Feed increased amounts of food in several small meals each day. Fresh water should always be available to her since fluids are greatly increased.

5. Exercise

A moderate amount of exercise is the proper approach for your dog. Never force your dog or make her do any strenuous exercise. Go on short walks or have short periods of play to help keep her active.

If you have any questions or concerns about your dogs pregnancy do not hesitate to talk your local veterinarian.