Most dog owners are at a loss when it comes to determining whether their dog is pregnant. If you have involved your pet in a breeding program, the news of her pregnancy is something that you must have been expecting. On the other hand, oftentimes owners are not aware of their dog's heat cycles and sometimes the female dog mates with a male dog without the knowledge of her owner. In such conditions, the signs of pregnancy may go unnoticed.
Canine Heat Cycle
Normally, the heat cycle begins when the female is six months old. However, this is not the same for every dog breed, because in some cases, the heat cycle may begin earlier, while for others, it starts only after a full year. Most dogs experience the heat cycle, also known as estrous cycle, at least 2 times in a year. Each lasts for about 21 days. This cycle can be divided into three parts. It begins with the proestrus stage, which is followed by the estrus, and concludes with the diestrus stage. During the first stage, the dog begins bleeding lightly, and you may also observe swelling of the vulva.
Though at this time the female attracts male dogs towards her, she does not actually invite any of them to mount her. The second stage starts 5 - 10 days after the beginning of the first stage. It is during the second stage that ovulation occurs in dogs and hence, the chances of conception are the highest during this time. Moreover, during this period the female will allow any male dog to mount her. The last stage is called diestrus, where the swelling of the vulva starts disappearing and the female stops bleeding. She will no longer be interested in male dogs and if she has mated with a male dog during the heat cycle, she will, most likely, be pregnant.
Is My Dog Pregnant?
To understand if your dog is pregnant, you have to wait at least a few weeks after your dog's heat cycle is over, as she will start showing signs of pregnancy 2 - 3 weeks after conception. Though only a check up by the vet can actually confirm whether your dog is pregnant, there are several signs that you can see when your pet dog is expecting.
- As I said earlier, the swelling of the vulva reduces at the end of the dog's heat cycle. However, if she has mated during the heat period and has become pregnant, it is likely that the swelling of the vulva remains even after the end of the heat cycle.
- Another early sign of pregnancy is a slight enlargement of the teats (nipples). This happens because the blood supply at the base of the nipples increases during this time and they become prominent around 25 - 30 days. You may also observe vaginal discharge within one month of conception.
- Pregnancy may also cause certain behavioral changes in your dog. Your dog may either become very clingy and loving towards you and other family members or she may become aloof, wanting to be left alone, all by herself.
- Change in the dog's appetite is also another sign of a pregnant dog. It has been observed that pregnant dogs are likely to avoid food for the first few weeks. However, this is just a temporary phase and she will regain her normal appetite in a few weeks.
- A pregnant dog may suffer from morning sickness during the initial few weeks of pregnancy where she may vomit clear mucus or food any time of the day. She may seem to be tired as she will spend most of the time resting, instead of playing or running around.
If you observe any of the above symptoms in your dog, taking her to the vet will help you in knowing whether she really is pregnant. The vet will be able to determine the dog's pregnancy 21 days after conception. During this time, the doctor will be able to feel the thickening of the uterus and even the bumps within.
Apart from this, the ultrasound method can also be used to confirm canine pregnancy. However, this is only possible after 28 days of conception. After 49 - 50 days, an X-ray of the dog's womb can determine the number of puppies present in it. However, not all vets use this method, since there is a risk of damage due to radiation. Rather, they simply touch the dog's abdomen to know the number of puppies in the dog's womb.
Signs of Delivery
The average gestation period in dogs is 62 days. However, it can be anywhere between 54 - 72 days. Knowing about the signs that your pet dog will show when she is nearing the time of delivery will help you in making the necessary arrangements. As the dog nears her due date, her body will increase in size and you will observe a pronounced enlargement in the abdominal area. The temperature of the dog normally reduces as she nears her due date.
Hence, taking her rectal temperature time to time will help you in narrowing down the time of her delivery. The dog's normal temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit. It will drop down 24 hours before the delivery. Apart from this, one can also determine that the dog is ready to give birth to the puppies with the help of some behavioral changes. She may become restless and you may observe her pacing and panting during this time. It is also normal to observe a greenish vaginal discharge hours before your dog goes into labor.
I hope by now you are able to resolve your question. If you observe any of the above signs in your dog, take her to your vet immediately. If she is pregnant, the vet will give you some important instructions about prenatal care which you should follow to ensure that she has a smooth and healthy pregnancy.