A female dog's pregnancy term is only around two months, with most dogs remaining pregnant for between 58 and 66 days. This relatively short gestation period can make it easy to miss some of the early signs of pregnancy. Pay attention to your dog's habits and physical characteristics so you can recognize pregnancy and provide appropriate care and feeding for your pregnant pooch.
Dogs commonly lose their appetite midway through a pregnancy. Not all dogs experience this loss of appetite, but when it does happen, it's usually around the three-week mark.
Pregnant dogs often experience increased vaginal discharge around four weeks into their pregnancy. If your pregnant dog experiences significant vaginal bleeding in the early or middle part of pregnancy, seek veterinary help.
It is common for a pregnant dog to become less active during her pregnancy. At any point during the gestation period, you may notice your dog spends more time resting -- she may seem to be depressed.
As puppies grow inside a pregnant dog, her abdomen will become enlarged. In the middle and late stages of pregnancy, an enlarged abdomen is one of the most obvious signs that a dog is expecting puppies. Forty days into a pregnancy, your dog may have 20 to 55 percent more body weight than before she was pregnant.
Your dog's teats, or nipples, become enlarged during pregnancy. Teat enlargement usually starts to show three to four weeks into the pregnancy.
Dog Pregnancy Test
You can buy a home pregnancy test for your dog. This should be purchased from a veterinarian -- human pregnancy tests are not accurate for dogs.
If you suspect your dog is pregnant, make a veterinary appointment. Your veterinarian can tell you whether your dog is pregnant by conducting a physical examination. Beyond about 25 days into the pregnancy, your vet can listen to the puppies' heartbeats through a stethoscope.
Your veterinarian can use an ultrasound scan to detect pregnancy as soon as four weeks after mating. The ultrasound can detect the presence of growing puppies inside your dog.
An X-ray scan uses radiation to create images of your dog's insides. At around 49 days into the pregnancy, the skeletons of puppies will typically be visible on an X-ray image.
Relaxin is a hormone that is present at high levels when a dog is pregnant. Between 21 and 25 days into your dog's pregnancy, a veterinarian can test for elevated relaxin levels and make a pregnancy diagnosis from these results.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jae Allen has been a writer since 1999, with articles published in "The Hub," "Innocent Words" and "Rhythm." She has worked as a medical writer, paralegal, veterinary assistant, stage manager, session musician, ghostwriter and university professor. Allen specializes in travel, health/fitness, animals and other topics.