Using the sense of touch, veterinarians can detect the movement of puppies after five weeks of pregnancy.
For dog owners, the ability to feel the puppies usually begins around six weeks of pregnancy.
By the seventh week, you might even be able to see the puppies moving beneath the skin.
At six weeks of pregnancy, the developing puppies are at least 45mm in size and have developed their sexual organs.
When nearing seven weeks, the puppies are larger, and their bones are almost fully formed.
However, it’s important to note that even though their bones are developing, the puppies might not be strong enough to withstand frequent touching.
To check for the puppies, softly press your flat palm against the dog’s belly and wait as the puppies shift their position.
Avoid the temptation to push or poke the mother’s belly with your fingers, as this can be harmful to the puppies.
Also, be mindful not to stress the mother by touching her abdomen excessively.
If she seems uncomfortable with being touched, don’t insist on touching her.
Phases of a Dog’s Heat Cycle
Female dogs will attract males for about nine days during the first stage of their heat cycle, but they won’t actually allow mating.
In the second stage, which can last from 3 to 11 days, female dogs will attract males and permit mating.
Once this second stage is finished, the female will no longer attract males or allow mating.
A female dog has the potential to become pregnant at any point during this second phase of her heat cycle.
However, male dog sperm can remain in the reproductive area for up to seven days.
This makes it challenging to precisely determine when your dog becomes pregnant.
Date of Getting Pregnant
There’s a considerable period when pregnancy could have happened, so it’s usually not simple to know precisely when your dog got pregnant.
However, keeping track of breeding dates can help figure out how far along your dog is.
Alternatively, you can consult your vet if you think your dog might be pregnant.
How to Determine if Your Dog Is Pregnant
Detecting if your dog is pregnant can be a bit tricky. The only certain way is to consult your veterinarian.
The vet will perform a physical examination, hormone test, ultrasound, or X-ray to confirm any uncertainty.
The earliest your vet can confirm pregnancy is around the 20th day of your dog’s pregnancy.
Between the 20th and 21st day, an ultrasound or hormone test can reveal if she’s expecting pups.
Around the 30th day of pregnancy, your vet might also perform a physical exam to estimate the number of puppies your dog is carrying.
Since the puppies often hide, it can be a surprise when the mother gives birth.
Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy in Dogs
If you have properly planned your breeding, there are a few physical signs that indicate the success of your breeding efforts.
A Larger Belly
Similar to humans, pregnant dogs will develop a bigger belly as their pregnancy advances.
However, it’s important to note that a swollen abdomen could occasionally indicate a medical condition.
Pay attention to any shifts in your dog’s eating habits. A pregnant dog might consume more food than usual.
However, similar to humans, a pregnant dog can go through a period of morning sickness that leads to vomiting and reduced appetite.
Unlike humans, a pregnant dog’s morning sickness is short-lived, often lasting only a few days.
Bigger Nipples and Breasts
During pregnancy, a dog’s breast size will noticeably get larger, and its nipples will become swollen.
You might also notice a discharge of milky fluid from the nipples.
Discharge from the Body
When your dog is pregnant, you may notice a consistent mucus discharge from her vulva.
As her pregnancy advances, the dog’s weight will start to go up.
She might gain around 15-25% of her weight, which can vary depending on how many puppies she’s carrying.
Shift in Behavior
Pregnant dogs might undergo noticeable changes in their behavior.
Even if your dog is typically friendly, her personality could shift. She might become less sociable and more aggressive.
As her pregnancy progresses, your dog could become irritable.
She might seem restless and eager to give birth to her puppies. It’s important to provide her with space and a comfortable resting area.
Keep in mind that your dog could experience a false pregnancy, where she shows signs of being pregnant but isn’t actually carrying any puppies.
She might gain weight, have swollen nipples and breasts, and exhibit nesting behavior.
However, this is uncommon and only occurs in dogs.
If you suspect your dog is experiencing a false pregnancy, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian for guidance.
Tips for Taking Care of a Pregnant Dog
After confirming your dog’s pregnancy, it’s important to take several steps to ensure her well-being during the pregnancy.
One of the most important things you can do for your pregnant dog is to ensure she receives proper nutrition.
If your dog is already on a high-quality dog diet and is in good health, you don’t need to change her food for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy.
The good news is that increasing her food during this phase can actually be harmful.
As her weight increases in the final weeks of pregnancy, it’s recommended to slowly raise her food intake until she’s consuming around 35% to 59% more than usual.
Gradually increase her portions and offer her small, frequent meals, as larger meals might lead to discomfort.
When you’re breeding your dog, it’s important to limit strenuous activities in the first two weeks of pregnancy to help with the embryo’s implantation.
But once this stage is over, regular exercise is beneficial until your dog’s belly gets bigger.
In the final trimester, it’s best to choose activities that aren’t too demanding for your dog.
Taking short and regular walks is great for your pregnant dog, as she needs to conserve her energy to support the puppies and provide them with nutrition.
Consult your vet about vaccinating your dog while she’s pregnant. If her vaccinations are outdated, it’s recommended to update them before she becomes pregnant.
Visiting the Veterinarian
It’s important to take your pregnant dog for regular check-ups throughout her entire pregnancy. This ensures the health of both your dog and her puppies.
When Puppies Begin to Move During Pregnancy
The fourth aspect to understand about pregnant dogs is when the puppies start moving inside their mother’s belly.
If you can’t sense the puppies moving in your dog’s abdomen, they might have recently begun their movements.
Around day 28 of the pregnancy, the puppies will have developed enough muscles and skeletons to wiggle around inside the mother’s womb.
This is when you might start feeling their movements in your dog’s abdomen.
In the initial weeks and earlier stages of a dog’s pregnancy, especially if it’s her first litter, its normal not to feel any movement or only very slight movement.
Most people can’t sense any movements until at least day 28 of the pregnancy.
However, it’s not only about feeling the movements. You should also observe any subtle shifts in your dog’s behavior during her pregnancy.
Signs like being hesitant to move or jump, increased sleeping time, and behaviors like nesting and panting can suggest that your dog is carrying puppies in her belly.
Growth of Puppies
Puppies undergo rapid development inside their mother’s womb. They grow from just four cells to 64.
A head and spine start forming. Head and eyes begin to develop. The puppy’s organs start forming.
If you think your dog might be pregnant, a veterinarian can detect a puppy through ultrasound around this time.
These weeks are significant stages for the puppy’s growth.
It begins to resemble a real puppy more, with distinct features forming and its organs maturing fully.
During this period, the puppy becomes more active and starts growing fur.
The puppy’s skeleton is well-developed.
And by the beginning of week nine, the puppy can be born safely.
Signs That Your Dog Is Going Into Labor
Get ready with the necessary kit as your dog approaches her due date for giving birth. Once 64 days or more have passed, the pregnancy period comes to an end.
Watch out for these signs in your pregnant dog.
- She becomes restless.
- She starts licking her vulva.
- She might stop eating for up to 24 hours before labor.
- There could be a discharge of mucus or vomit.
- She paws at her bedding as she prepares a nest.
Your dog’s pregnancy is an exciting time, and hopefully, it will progress smoothly. Nonetheless, having the guidance of a veterinarian is important.
They can conduct tests, check the puppies’ health, and ensure everything is in order before the birth.
Remember that not all pregnant dogs will display visible signs of puppies moving,
So don’t worry if they’re not as noticeable as you anticipated.