This is the Complete Guide to Dog Pregnancy and Birth.

What is the Standard Menu for Pregnant Dogs?

Please contact your vet if you plan to breed your dog to learn about the important measures to be taken to promote safe and healthy breeding. Female dogs should not be immunized while pregnant. Please confirm that your dog has received all of her heartworm/flea preventatives, and vaccinations before you breed. There are many veterinarians in the United States who specialize or take a special interest in canine reproductive issues. Contacting a reproduction veterinarian is essential before breeding your pet to ensure that she and her pups are as healthy as they can be. The Society for Theriogenology maintains a list of reproductive vets who perform the various procedures.

Like pregnant humans, dogs need veterinary attention before, during and after pregnancy.

This guide will explain how to care for your pregnant dog, how to set up a birthing area, how to take care of the pups, and what you can expect from the process.

Dog Pregnancy Signs

You may not see any change in the behavior of your dog during its first weeks. You may notice that some pregnant dogs seem to be more fatigued, others may vomit and still others may have a reduced appetite. Your dog may gain weight, and you might notice her mammary glands becoming larger. Many dogs exhibit nesting behaviors late in pregnancy. They may drag blankets and pillows to a safer place or rearrange them.

Normal hormonal changes may also cause mammary changes and changes in color to occur during this period.

What Are the Signs My Dog is Pregnant?

The following methods can be used to confirm pregnancy:

  • An ultrasound for dogs during pregnancy should be performed between day 25 and 28 of pregnancy.
  • Abdominal radiographs can be performed on the 45th day.
  • tests for pregnancy are also available. However, these are not accurate and are therefore ineffective.
  • Some veterinarians are able to feel the abdomen of a dog to detect pregnancy. However, this is also unreliable, and it can even be dangerous for growing fetuses.

Ask your vet for advice on the best method for your dog.

The hormones released by a dog after a heat cycle can be remarkably similar, regardless of whether she is pregnant or not. false pregnancies or pseudopregnancy can cause non-pregnant animals to exhibit symptoms like lactation, maternal behavior and other signs. The changes that occur are usually hormone-related, and they disappear on their own without any medical treatment.

How Long Does Dog Pregnancy Last?

Nutritional supplements for pregnant dogs

The gestational period (or pregnancy duration) of a dog is approximately 63 days after ovulation. This is just under two months. The hormones LH and progesterone are used to determine ovulation. This test is commonly performed by reproduction veterinarians.

A veterinarian can pinpoint the exact due date by determining the day that ovulation occurs. This is accurate to within a 3-day period. The ovulation day of a dog is unknown if ovulation is not measured. Due dates can range between 58 and 68 days after breeding.

The gestational period (or length of pregnancy) for a dog is approximately 63 days after ovulation. This is just under two months.

Before breeding, a veterinarian will examine the dog to assess its physical fitness and health. A veterinarian should examine the pregnant mother again in mid-and late pregnancy to diagnose pregnancy, perform health tests and plan for whelping.

Dogs that are pregnant should be given special considerations.


Your veterinarian should check a stool sample during pregnancy. Intestinal parasites are capable of spreading to puppies in the womb and while nursing.

Some dewormers are dangerous for pregnant and nursing dogs. If her stool test shows that she has parasitic infections, then your vet can prescribe appropriate medication.


Female dogs who are pregnant should avoid vaccinations. Make sure that your dog has all of her vaccinations, tick, flea, and Heartworm protection before becoming pregnant.

There are only certain circumstances where a pregnant female dog needs to be immunized. The immune system of newborn puppies is not present at birth. The first milk of the mother, or colostrum, is what they rely on to get protective antibodies during their first 24-hours. For the best protection of puppies, it is important that mothers have high levels of antibodies to transmit. If she is not up to date on one of the core vaccines–the combination of distemper and parvovirus veterinarians may elect to vaccinate a dog during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

During your pre-breeding examination, ask your veterinarian about your vaccination status.

Preparing for Dog Birth

Most dogs are able to give birth on their own. Some breeds such as English Bulldogs and French Bulldogs cannot give birth naturally. In these situations, the planned caesarian section is often needed. Working closely with your vet will be essential.

If your dog is whelping in a natural way, you will need to create a nesting space for her near the end. The area must be comfortable and warm, with your dog able to enter and exit as desired.

To prevent infection, it’s important that the mother be separated from all other dogs for three weeks prior to labor and after birth. The virus is rarely fatal to adult dogs, but it can kill puppies.

Within 24 hours after labor, a pregnant dog will have a temperature well below 100 F. Take her temperature several days prior to her due date. The most accurate temperature is taken from the rectal area.

The majority of dogs are able to give birth on their own. Some breeds are unable to whelp normally. In these situations, planned caesarian section is often necessary.

When does a dog give birth?

Dog labor is divided into three phases. The first phase of labor can take up to twelve hours. In general, puppies are born between 30-60 minutes. However, the mother may need to take a rest for up to 2 hours. What happens at each stage?

The first stage of dog labor: Contractions

First, the cervix relaxes and intermittent contractions begin. You are unlikely to witness contractions during the birthing process.

During this phase, your dog may act restless, move in and out the nesting boxes, dig and pant and even vomit. It is likely that she will refuse to eat. The stage may last up to 12 hours.

The Second Stage: More contractions and birth

Second-stage labor starts with more intense and frequent contractions of the uterus, which eventually leads to the birthing of a pup. Puppies usually are born 30-60 minutes apart, after 10-15 minutes of intense straining. It is normal for some dogs to give birth tail first.

The mother will normally take a rest during the process of whelping, but you should be aware when there are signs to call your veterinarian. The following are signs of concern:

  • Your dog may have been straining hard for longer than 30 minutes
  • She can take a longer break than four hours
  • There are no puppies within 30 minutes if there is a fetus membrane in the canal of birth
  • All puppies are not born in 24 hours
  • When the mother appears to be suffering extreme pain

The Third Stage: Postpartum

Third-stage labor involves passing the placenta or fetal membranes. Membranes, or afterbirth as they are also called, should be greenish black and not smell foul. The membranes should be gone within 15 minutes after each pup. will therefore alternate between stage 2 and 3, with each pup produced.

What is the maximum number of puppies a dog can have?

The size of the average litter varies greatly depending on the breed.

The litter size of larger dog breeds is usually greater. Some large-breed dogs are known to have many litters. The smaller breeds can have between one and five pups.

Some dogs that have only one or two pups may need a planned C-section. If you have a singleton pregnancy or if your dog does not give birth to puppies naturally, it may be necessary for you to schedule a C-section. You should consult with your vet in advance.

Six to eight puppies are the average in a litter.

Your vet can perform an X-ray during the final week of your dog’s pregnancy in order to determine how many pups it is carrying. It is important to know how many puppies your dog will be having.

What should you do after a puppy is born?

The mother removes the protective membrane shortly after giving birth. You must remove the sac manually if she doesn’t remove it.

Open the mouth, with the puppy facing downward, and remove any fluids. Then, encourage the pup to breathe by gently stroking it with a towel.

You may have to do this if the cord was not severed by the mother or during the birth. Be careful to not pull the cord as it may damage the organs of the puppy. Break it gently, about 1 to 2 inches away from the body of your puppy, using only two fingers and your thumb. To help with the delivery, you may want to buy medical tools such as scissors and clamps before birth. Contact your veterinarian if you have questions or concerns about the process.

What to watch out for after your dog gives birth

What to Expect and Watch for After the Birth of Puppies

Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge can last up to 8 weeks in small quantities after puppies have been born. It will usually appear reddish black because the main component is old blood.

The discharge may slow down, but become worse suddenly. This could be an indication to take her in for an examination.


After whelping it is important to continue taking the temperature of your puppy. Infections are very common after birth. Contact your vet if her temperature exceeds 102.5 F, or she appears sick.

Metritis (Inflamed Uterus)

Metritis is an inflammation of the uterus that can happen when there’s trauma during birth or a retained placenta. If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.

  • Fever
  • Insatiable appetite
  • Odorous vaginal discharge
  • The puppies are not interested in you
  • Lactose intolerance

Eclampsia is characterized by a drop in blood calcium levels.

Eclampsia can occur at whelping or in the first few weeks following birth. The inability of a mother’s system to meet the demands of lactation is the cause. It is most common in small breeds. Calcium supplementation before pregnancy can also cause this condition.

Restlessness, muscle spasms, and stiffness, as well as seizures, are all symptoms of this condition. If you notice any of the above behaviors, consult your veterinarian immediately. Eclampsia is a serious condition that can lead to death.

You should not supplement calcium while pregnant, because it can have an adverse effect on lactation. Talk to your vet about the calcium dosages.

Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue.

Mastitis is an inflammation of mammary tissue that occurs when mammaries are inflamed, painful, and hard.

It is likely that the mother will be in pain while breastfeeding, but puppies should continue to suckle to reduce swelling and encourage excretion. Even if the glands are infected, it is not harmful for puppies to nurse. However, the glands must be checked quickly.

If you suspect that your dog has mastitis and need to treat it, contact your vet.

Agalactia (Not Producing Milk)

When the dog does not produce milk, it is called Agalactia. It is important that you seek out veterinary help and give your puppies supplements during this period if they are sucking well, but receiving no milk.

First milk or colostrum provides puppies with nutrients from their mother and the antibodies they need to build natural immunity against infections. They will need additional care and not be able to thrive if they don’t get the essential nutrients during their first 24 hours.

Postpartum Care

You should be aware of the following steps for nutrition and postnatal care.

Do Not Put Your Dog On A High-Calorie Food

As long as your dog is still nursing, she should continue to be on a high-calorie diet (pregnancy/puppy). Make sure that she always has access to food and water.

Make a private space for your dog and puppies

You should keep the mother and puppies together in an area that is clean, quiet, and low traffic. She may get stressed if there’s too much noise around her. Provide a place where she can relax away from the puppies, but still have easy access.

Monitor Nursing

Your dog is likely to be there with your puppy for at least the first two weeks. Newborns should feed every hour or so. Contact your vet if you suspect that your dog is not producing milk, or is not letting your puppies nurse.

If your vet has not approved, you should avoid giving your dog any medications or vaccines while it is nursing.

If your dog seems sick, call the vet immediately.

Call your vet immediately if your dog is ill and tell them that your pet is breastfeeding so they can provide safe medication if necessary. Contact your vet if, for example, your dog suddenly stops eating or vomits or appears weak and exhausted.

Consider Neutering and Spaying Your Pet

A litter of puppies is not beneficial to female dogs. The stress on the dog’s body can be extreme, with some pregnancy conditions, birthing and nursing situations being fatal.

When the right time comes, talk to your vet about neutering or spaying your dog. Dogs can only be sterilized by spaying. Unwanted pregnancy costs can be high. The cost of veterinary treatment for a litter can quickly add up, while emergency cesareans can be thousands of dollars.

Spaying small-breed dog is possible as young as six months of age. Spays for large and giant breeds of dogs can be postponed. Recent research suggests that waiting for some giant breed dogs to reach skeletal maturity before neutering or spaying them may help reduce their risk of developing joint issues later on in life. This can be between 9-18 months for large or giant breeds.

There is no universal rule for when to neuter or spay your dog.

A litter of puppies is not beneficial to female dogs. The stress on the dog’s body can be extreme, with some pregnancy conditions, birthing and nursing situations being fatal.

Also, it is important to take into account the possibility of Pyometra in dogs that are not spayed. This condition can be life-threatening. This serious medical condition can be prevented by having your dog spayed.

Spaying your dog before its first heat cycle, which can happen as early as six months old, can reduce the likelihood of mammary carcinoma.