New life grows in the belly of a bitch – a fascinating wonder of nature, but also a physical burden for the expectant mother dog. Dog owners are excited about the upcoming birth and hope that everything will go well. Which behavior and which external characteristics are typical in the individual stages of pregnancy? The guide also answers the question of all questions: After how many days are the furry offspring born?
How long are dogs pregnant?
The average gestation duration in dogs is 63 days – although the duration can vary between 58 and 67 days. How long dogs are pregnant depends on when they ovulate and the day they are mated. Sounds complicated at first, but it’s easy to explain:
If the mating takes place before ovulation, the pregnancy can last more than 63 days. If the bitch is mated after ovulation, the gestation period will be shorter. The sperm are able to survive in the uterus for several days (around seven).
Pregnancy in dogs – what can the bitch expect?
There are a number of signs that a dog is pregnant. Since false pregnancies can occur again and again in bitches, it is important to check with the veterinarian whether the bitch is actually pregnant.
The first half of pregnancy
- At the beginning of pregnancy, the behavior of the bitch changes. She is tired and has less appetite. In addition, a pregnant bitch tends to vomit and have nausea in the beginning – similar to us humans.
- Dog owners can request an ultrasound examination from the vet from the 23rd day of pregnancy. The examination can provide clarity as to whether the bitch is de facto pregnant – but not with how many puppies.
- From the 30th day of gestation, the dog owner will notice a slimy, transparent discharge on the vulva.
- Some bitches lose some fur on their teats.
The second half of pregnancy
- In the second phase of pregnancy, the bitch’s appetite increases. In this physically very strenuous phase, there is an increased need for nutrients – no wonder, because the fetuses grow more and more. Here the dog owner is in demand, who provides special nutrient-rich food for pregnant bitches.
- At the beginning of the fifth week, the bitch gains significantly in weight. Now not only the gestation can be recognized by the behavior, but also clearly by the external appearance.
- From the 45th day, the vet can be visited again to get an overview of the number of growing puppies. Using an X-ray, the veterinarian can see how many fetuses the bitch is carrying. These have now developed a skeleton. Based on this, the veterinarian can determine the number.
- Shortly before the birth, the swellings on the teats are clearly visible. Milk production now begins. Even small drops of milk are a clear sign that it won’t take too long.
- If the birth is due in a few days, the bitch shows a “nest-building behavior”. The litter box that the dog owners placed a few weeks earlier is now visited more often. The place is “set up” with items of clothing, towels, and the like that can be found in the home.
The hours before the birth
If it is only a matter of moments until the little puppies are born, the following characteristics can be observed:
- Restless, nervous behavior
- Increased urination
- Licking the vulva
- Go to the whelping box
- Pawing the ground
- Loss of appetite
The signs of an upcoming birth are pretty clear. In order to be sure, from the 50th day onwards, the body temperature can be measured with the help of a thermometer. The temperature drops by around 2 degrees Celsius – 24 hours before the birth.
How long are dogs pregnant: support from the dog owner and veterinarian?
Basically, pregnancy in a bitch is quite problem-free. Nevertheless, it is important to support the expectant mother dog during this time. High-quality food and a warm and quiet litter box help the bitch during the exhausting time. Regular check-ups at the vet serve to ensure that possible complications are recognized in good time.
If the birth does not go smoothly and the bitch is visibly suffering, a veterinarian has to step in. Care should be taken to see a veterinarian in advance who is experienced with births and who makes house calls. Even if Mother Nature takes care of a lot by itself – with this challenge, humans and dogs can become a real dream team.