As a pet owner, it is essential to be attuned to the health of your animals. One of the fun yet challenging aspects of pet care is breeding. Like humans, animals go through reproductive cycles, and if you are a pet parent to a female dog, you may be wondering if ‘Molly’ is expecting. While it is always best to seek out professional veterinary advice, there are a few signs and symptoms that your furry friend is expecting. Here is what you need to know to gauge if Molly is indeed pregnant.
Before ‘Molly’ begins nursing her litter, several physical changes occur in her body, and these are some of the most apparent signs that your dog is pregnant. Here are some observable changes that can give you an indication that your canine companion is expecting:
A sudden and noticeable weight gain is among the most common physical signs that your dog may be pregnant. This is, however, not as simple as weighing or measuring your dog. Weight fluctuation signs, including fluctuating appetite and weight loss, vary based on breed, and the only accurate way to determine if there is a genuine pregnancy is with an ultrasound or X-ray performed by a veterinarian.
It is normal for dogs to have a slightly bulging belly. However, if your female dog’s belly appears to be growing at a rapid pace or has a swollen appearance, she may be pregnant. Typically, this change becomes more apparent as the pregnancy progresses, so be sure to keep a close eye on your dog’s shape to catch any sudden changes. It is essential to note that bloating and abdominal enlargement could also be a sign of other medical complications, so consulting your vet is essential.
Changes in Nipple Appearance
One reason you need to monitor your dog’s physical changes is that pregnancy leads to swollen and engorged nipples. As a result, they appear pinker than usual, while the nipples of other non-pregnant dogs are usually more white. The mammary glands also enlarge, preparing for the milk production process. One thing to note is that your dog’s nipples may appear swollen for other reasons, so make sure to seek veterinary advice.
Dogs tend to change their behavior during different stages of life. And pregnancy can alter how your furry friend behaves significantly. Dogs pregnant for the first time will need extra care and attention, as they may be hesitant, restless or clingy. Below are some changes you can observe in a pregnant dog:
Pregnant female dogs can suddenly become very affectionate as they seek out additional comfort and support during pregnancy. They may also want to cuddle or lay on your lap, especially as their pregnancy progresses. This change in behavior is common in most canines, and it can be delightful for owners who adore these furry creatures.
An Increase in Sleep
A pregnant female dog is likely to sleep more than usual during the first and last weeks of pregnancy. This change is likely due to the hormonal and physical changes in her body that can be exhausting. You can help your dog rest by preparing a comfortable resting place, such as a soft bed or crate.
An Uneasy Stomach
During a dog’s pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to nausea or fluctuations in appetite. Although it is unusual for canines to experience morning sickness, a lack of appetite could be a sign that your pregnant dog is unwell. If this happens, reach out to your veterinarian immediately.
Veterinary Care During Pregnancy
While you can monitor and identify some of the signs that your dog may be pregnant, it is important to provide veterinary care throughout pregnancy. Below are the ways you can help your dog during this period:
Regular Visits to the Vet
Regular veterinary care should be provided throughout pregnancy to ensure that both the mother and pups are healthy. The veterinarian will keep track of the pregnancy’s progress and recommend changes in diet, exercise, and other pregnancy-related care instructions. A vet can also detect any complications and recommend an appropriate course of action.
Just like with human pregnancy, providing a balanced diet is essential when it comes to pregnant dogs. Diet changes should be gradual and veterinarian-recommended, avoiding fatty foods or other foods that could lead to complications during pregnancy. In addition, provide more than the usual water intake to ensure that the expectant mother remains hydrated.
Preparing a Whelping Space
Preparing for the arrival of the puppies is just as important as making sure the expectant mother gets the right care. As a pet owner, you need to create a whelping space with clean and comfortable bedding. Consult your veterinarian regarding the ideal place to set up this space.
It can be exciting to welcome a new batch of pups into the world. However, it is important to keep an eye out for any physical and behavioral changes that indicate pregnancy to ensure that you can provide the necessary care. Make sure to track your dog’s behavior, take her to the veterinarian regularly, and provide a healthy and comfortable environment for her and her newborn puppies.
Most Common Questions Regarding Dog Pregnancy
Here is a list of some of the most common questions pet owners ask concerning dog pregnancy.
- How long are dogs pregnant? Dog pregnancy typically lasts between 63 and 67 days or around nine weeks.
- How can you tell the number of puppies a dog is carrying? To know the size of your dog’s litter, your veterinarian can use an x-ray, ultrasound, or abdominal palpation to estimate the number of puppies your dog is carrying.
- How can you stop a dog from getting pregnant? The best way to prevent pregnancy is to spay dogs or neuter male dogs. However, other birth control methods, such as birth control pills, are available, and you can consult your vet for advice on the best options.
- How long should I wait before breeding my dog again after giving birth? It is advisable to wait for at least six months before breeding your dog again.
- How can I best care for my nursing dog and puppies? Nursing dogs and their pups require a great deal of care, including a nutritious diet, vaccinations, deworming, and daily hygiene care to avoid infections. You can consult your veterinarian for advice on how to care for the nursing dog and her puppies.
1. ASPCA, (2021). Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Symptoms, and How to Tell, [online], Available at: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-pregnancy-signs-symptoms-and-how-tell [Accessed 1 Jun. 2021].
2. PetMD, (2021). How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant, [online], Available at: https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/how-tell-if-your-dog-pregnant [Accessed 1 Jun. 2021].
3. AKC, (2021). How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant, [online], Available at: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-to-tell-if-your-dog-is-pregnant/ [Accessed 1 Jun. 2021]