Unless you're intentionally breeding her, discovering your pooch is pregnant can offer a bit of a shock. In fact, by the time you realize her pudgy belly isn't from overeating, she may be getting close to delivering. Before long, the pitter-patter of puppy paws will fill your home.
Pregnancy moves quickly in the animal world. Dog pregnancies last about two months, with puppies entering the world between day 56 and 70 of gestation. Litter size typically ranges between a single pup or up to a dozen and differs depending on numerous factors. The size of the breed offers the biggest determination of litter size, as a great Dane can carry a larger litter than a Chihuahua can.
The conventional stereotypical symptoms of pregnancy don't apply to dogs, as your little mama-to-be won't crave pickles and ice cream or offer wild mood changes. You may not even suspect she's pregnant until about halfway through her pregnancy. Then you may notice her nipples looking larger, and she may act more mellow or calm. She may experience the doggy equivalent of morning sickness, lose her appetite or vomit. In spite of being less active or less hungry, her belly will grow bigger.
Those last few days before birth are an anxious time, and your pooch may begin nesting as her due date nears. When she senses the imminent arrival of her brood, your dog likely will begin looking for a good spot to raise a family. She may scratch at her bed to create a comfy little nest and act restless as the clock ticks down to delivery. She even may begin lactating a day or two before birth.
In Case of Emergency
Generally speaking, your dog's body knows what it's doing and most deliveries go without a hitch. Each puppy birth can take up to an hour, after up to 30 minutes of pushing. Mama typically stays calm throughout the ordeal, licking and cleaning each puppy after it's born and resting a bit before the next one arrives. If she seems to be straining unusually hard with no pup in sight, or she seems in pain or unusually agitated, she may need additional help. Have your vet's phone number on hand as your dog nears the end of her pregnancy and call for help if needed.
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