Dog Pregnancy 101

Your Propably Here To Learn How To Take Care Of Your Pregnant Or To Be Pregnant Dog. Firstly I Want To Say Congratulations You Will Be So Happy To Play And Learn With The Little Bundles Of Joy Coming Your Way. I Guess You Are Ready Now Scroll Down To Learn More About The Health And Care Of Your Pregnant Dog.

Basic Facts

Here are some basic facts to start this post off

  • A dogs gestation period is 68 days
  • Dogs usually reach sexual maturity between six and twelve months old.

  • Dogs should eat as much as they want during pregnancy to support their babies.

  • Pregnant dogs still need exercise to keep them fit.

  • If a female dog roamed around when she was in heat, she could end up with puppies from multiple fathers.

  • A dog’s temperature can tell you she’s about to give birth.

  • Dogs usually cut their puppies umbilical cord by chewing it off.

  • Your dog may experience morning sickness.

  • Dogs usually have half the number of puppies as they have nipples.

  • Some dogs have been bred so that they can’t give birth naturally.

  •  Puppies are born in a fluid-filled sac.

  • The mum dog starts feeding her first pupy before the others have been born.

  •  Dog labor may take between two and 20 hours.

Basics Of Dog Pregnancy

  • Lets start off with the basics of dog pregnancy

  • Dogs are only fertile during their heat cycle
  • Dogs come into heat anually or sometimes every 6 months.

Before Breeding

There is a few things that you need to do before breeding your female

  • Make sure your female dog’s vaccinations are current.
  • Have your female dog checked and, if necessary, treated for worms before the gestation. If this doesn’t happen before the breeding, wait until the puppies are born.
  • Check the male and female for canine brucellosis; this is a sexually transmitted disease that causes spontaneous late-term abortion, in both genders
  • Progression Of Dog Pregnancy
  • You should watch for any signs that your dog is pregnant after mating. A dogs pregnancy can be diagnosed by palpating (feeling) the uterus, by ultrasound and also a blood test.

Progression Of Dog Pregnancy

  • You may want to acquaint yourself with what to expect week – by week throughout the pregnancy
  • A dog pregnancy lasts approximately 59 – 63 days on average, from the date your dog got bred.
  • A canine pregnancy calendar can help you determine your dog’s approximate due date

What To Get For Your Dogs Pregnancy

Having everything ready for your dogs and her puppies is essential, and it will also make it much less stressful. You should have the following items on hand.

Diet And Nutrition

A balanced diet is crucial for your pregnant dog and her puppies to have the right nutrition to keep her in good health for her nine-week pregnancy and her further six weeks of feeding the puppies

It is highly recommended that you feed your pregnant dog good quality food that has high levels of protein, carbohydrates, fat and an increased level of nutrients, including calcium. Premium Puppy or growth diets are the best foods you can feed your dog; brands such as Hills Puppy and Royal Canin.
Homemade diets arent recommended as it is challenging to get the correct balance of minerals and vitamins, also the diets are not concentrated, and large volumes need to be eaten to provide the high-calorie requirements. During the last three weeks of pregnancy, and when your pooch is feeding the puppies, your dog will consume up to 3 times her usual ratio of food. During this time, your dog must continue to be active. Obesity and lousy exercise tolerance can cause your pregnant dog to have birthing difficulties as she will have poor muscle tone and may tire quickly during birth

Vaccination And Parasite Control

Maintaining Your dog’s vaccination and parasite control is essential during pregnancy. Changes in hormone levels during gestation can cause immature roundworms that are sitting in the body tissues to become active and may even enter the milk supply, these can infect the puppies when they nurse. Hookworms can also be transferred through the milk. Your pregnant dog needs to be wormed 10 days before delivering and every 3 weeks while she is feeding her puppies. The pups should be wormed from 2 weeks of age and wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age. If your dog hasn’t had vaccinations within the last 10 – 12 months you should vaccinate your dog with a parvovirus booster before she has been bred. If this is an unexpected pregnancy, you should vaccinate no later than 6 – 7 weeks into the gestation. Parvovirus is one of the most common causes of puppy deaths, vaccinating your dog prior to giving birth provides functional Parvovirus Antibody which she will transfer to her pups. A check-up by the Vet during gestation provides an opportunity to check on your dog’s diet, worming and vaccination status. An ultrasound can be arranged to determine the size of the litter and to confirm that it isn’t a false pregnancy. The best time for an examination as 4 – 4 1/2 weeks into the pregnancy. It is essential to never stop any of your dog’s healthcare and preventative treatments such as intestinal worming, flea control or heartworm prevention while your dog is pregnant. If you aren’t sure if any of the products you are using will harm your pregnant dog check your local veterinary

Giving Birth

Parturition or Whelping are the terms used for “giving birth”. Whelping commonly occurs 59 – 63 days after the last successful mating. The Whelping process is split into 3 parts.

Stage One  (Primary labour)

This stage can last anywhere between 12 – 36 hours, this is the time before the first puppy is born. A pregnant dog giving birth for the first-ever time will often spend longer at this stage than a dog who has whelped before. Your dog will start “nesting”; this means that they seek a suitable place to have her puppies after finding somewhere to have the puppies your dog will begin to make it comfortable by arranging bedding or tearing up newspaper to place down in her nest etc. Your dog will become anxious, sitting down and getting up frequently. She might refuse food of sometimes even vomit. Some dogs prefer to make their nest somewhere quiet and away from people, while others may seek out their owner’s company.

A hormone called Oxytocin is released at this stage, and it causes and increasing pressure in the uterus by steadily increasing the muscle tone in the womb as well. Under this influence, a pup begins to press on the still closed cervix. Her temperature may drop a degree or while she is in this stage.

Stage 2 (Secondary Labour)

This stage is when the wombs pressure and a relaxing cervix allows the first puppy to be pushed into the birth canal. Your dog’s abdomen will bulge and shorten as if your dog is straining to pass a motion. The contractions gradually increase in strength and amount for a variable period, until the first puppy is born. Together they occupy a period of up 3 – 4 hours. However, the active straining component should not occupy more than 15 – 20 mins of concentrated effort and a puppy should pop out within this time, more than this abnormal and might indicate that your dog is having problems. At this time, you should contact your veterinarian for further advice. The birth of a puppy is commonly seen by the appearance of the amniotic sac or water bag at the vulva. This is a shiny thin membrane filled with dark fluid, which contains the newborn puppy. The sack is broken when the mother licks at it to reveal the puppy. The mother then will chew through the umbilical cord; she may eat the bag and its contents as well. This is entirely normal, and shouldn’t be a cause of alarm. The mother should then proceed to lick and roll her newborn pup; this helps stimulate the puppies breathing. If the mother does not attend to the puppy within a few minutes of giving birth, you as the pet owner should ensure that all the sack and the membranes are removed from the pup’s nose and mouth. Briskly but gently rub the puppy with a dry towel. make sure the puppies head is lowered to allow fluid to drain from the nose and mouth
Only 1 – 2 people that the dog trusts should be present at the birthing process and intervene only if necessary. Your dog will get very tired while in labour. The effects of labour can quickly tire older, less fit or more obese dogs may cause them to tire and stop straining veterinary attention is needed if this occurs. Low calcium or/and low Oxytocin levels can also cause labour to cease. Most deliveries take six hours or less, but the birth of a large litter may take up to twenty- four hours.
If the puppies are kept away from their mother for any amount of time, they need to be held in an environment that is a constant 29 – 32 degrees C.

Stage 3 (Final Stage)

The last stage involves the contraction of the uterus to get rid of the final membranes and fluids. For the first 48 hours, the post-whelping discharge is usually a greenish-blackish colour, becoming a bloody discharge for up to a few weeks afterwards. Some female dogs will have prolonged post-whelping discharge, sometimes lasting well into lactation, providing this is a clear blood strained discharge without an odour or big amounts. This is usually completely normal.

A post whelping check is recommended with your vet 24 hours after the last puppy has been delivered. This lets your veterinarian to examine your dog thoroughly and to check if your dog has an adequate milk production, retained fetuses and also assess her body condition. At the time of the examination, your vet will also examine the newborn puppies for their body condition.

Ok so now that we have gone through the gestation stages. How do you tell your dog is done delivering the puppies?


Caring For A Whelping Dog

After the puppies are born, your dog may have a variable appetite for the first few days; she may also have greenish-blackish diarrhoea mainly if she has eaten the foetal membranes at whelping.

Provide your dog with clean bedding, also avoid any loud noise or disturbing her while she is nursing her pups. While nursing her litter, she may become excitable, anxious or sometimes even aggressive.

Feed her adlib, have non-perishable food out for her throughout the day, any moist or canned food should be offered & if it is not eaten, you should take it away after 15 minutes. Have fresh water available which is easily accessible to her.

Problems That May Occur

The first indication that there is something is wrong is indicated by a litter of puppies are restless If your mother dog won’t nurse her puppies adequately or keeping them warm enough, the little puppies may become restless, wander from the mother, cry a lot and feel cold.


This is an infection which occurs in the mammary glands; the glands become hot, hard and painful to feel. The milk secretion is thicker than usual and may have white or tinged clots in it. Your dog might have an increased body temperature, she may lose her appetite, and her milk production may cease or decline. Please don’t allow the puppies to feed off an infected gland, because they can become sick from ingesting the contaminated milk.


Is the inflammation of the womb, this can cause depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and foul discharge from the vulva.


This refers to inadequate milk production. It causes the puppies to cry often and have hollow flanks instead of the more usual distended belly. Poor condition or the cessation of the mum’s milk supply may indicate she is unwell.

Milk Fever

This can occur within 14 – 21 days of lactation. This is often seen in small breeds of dogs nursing a large litter, but any size or breed of dog can be at risk developing this condition. Milk Fever is characterised by a sudden onset of excitation, anxious-looking or hyperactive behaviour, panting, trembling and sometimes even convulsions. This condition requires emergency treatment by your local vet. This condition is related to low calcium level in the body. Treating this condition will require your dog to have a calcium supplement.

Poor Mothering

Not all dogs have a natural maternal instinct. Some dog may neglect their puppies, often leaving them for long periods without nursing them properly. Unfortunate owners end up doing most of the puppy rearing; this can be for up to 5 weeks before the pups are weaned from milk. Dogs with poor maternal instincts are best to be spayed since they don’t tend to develop the necessary skills as they grow up.

Management Of Newborn Puppies

Stages Of Development

  • Day 2 – 3 The umbilical cord drops off.
  • Day 10 Puppies should be double their birth weight.
  • Day 10 – 14 Puppies eyes will start to open.
  • Day 13 – 17 Puppies ears will begin to open.
  • Day 16 – 18 Begin to stand and walk.
  • Day 18 Able to poo and wee without their mother’s assistance.
  • Day 20 Canine teeth start to show.
  • Day 21 Nervous system will now be developed enough to learn new skills.

Once the puppy is clean and stimulated by its mother, the newborn puppy will instinctively crawl to its mother’s belly, and it will soon regain lost body temperature and start to nurse.

Puppies cannot control their body heat for the first three days of their life. Their ability to control their body heat will slowly improve over the next few weeks of their life. The puppies should be kept away from draughts, and cold and the temperature in the environment should be as follows.

  • 1st Week 29 – 32 Degrees C
  • 2nd Week 26 – 29 Degrees C
  • 3rd Week 23 – 26 Degrees C
  • 4th Week 23 Degrees C

Puppies should be suckling within the first two hours after birth and should up to 15 minutes every few hours after that. The milk produced by the mum for the first one-two days after whelping is called ” Colostrum”. Colostrum is packed with vitamins and is low in lactose, but even more importantly, it contains maternal antibodies which protect the puppies from a variety of diseases. If the puppies aren’t provided with these antibodies seriously jeopardises the puppies survival. Puppies can only absorb these antibodies during the first forty-eight hours of life. If the mum has a large litter or has poor maternal skills, artificial feeding may be required. The only milk replacement supplements that will sustain the puppy and allow for it to grow normally are

Animalac, Divetalac, and Wombaroo Dog Milk. Human baby milk or cows milk replacement lack the nutrients to support the young puppies. and often contain lactose, which can cause diarrhoea and death in young puppies

After feeding of hand-reared puppies, it is necessary to stimulate the puppy to poo and wee you can do this with cotton wool of tissues and rub the genital area

Newborn puppies depend on this stimulation for getting rid of their waster for the first 18 – 21 days of their life

Basic Guidelines

You should weigh puppies daily since birth. A healthy puppy should not lose more than 10% of their birth in the first 24 hours of their life. Puppies that lose 10% of their birth weight in the first 24 hours of their lives are subject to chilling, undeveloped muscle tone and oxygen deprivation, puppies like these need careful handling and human interference to see that they eat well and that they are kept warm if they are to survive.
Healthy puppies should have doubled their birth weight by the tenth day of their life.

 Puppies can be born with worms or become infected shortly after birth. Roundworms are capable of causing death in young pups; these worms can cause pneumonia, diarrhoea, bowel obstructions and debilitation. Hookworms rupture small blood vessels in the wall of the small intestine; this can lead to blood loss and anaemia, resulting in death if it is severe enough. You should worm the newborn puppies using a product like Drontal Puppy Suspension; you can worm the puppies from 2 weeks of age and should worm them every two weeks until 12 weeks of age.

Controlling fleas is essential, these parasites feed on the puppies blood and can cause anaemia, even low numbers of insects can cause anaemia which can be severe enough to cause death. There are flea treatments that are safe to use from 3 days of age. 

Fading Puppy Syndrome is when puppies fail to thrive, they lose body condition and may die unexpectantly. There are several factors involved: temperature stress, congenital disabilities, poor nutrition, parasites and infections. 

Weaning occurs typically between 5 1/2 – 6 weeks of age. It would be best if you talked to your local vet about the most suitable food to wean puppies with. With weaning, it is a matter of trying the puppies from 5 weeks of age with the new foods each day, some pups will be quicker than others to accept any solid foods, but the whole litter should be weaned by 6 – 7 weeks of age.


Further Information

When Is The Delivery Finished

When your dog delivers each puppy, she will tense her abdominal muscles. It will usually take about 10 minutes of straining to produce each pup. Delivery schedules vary by breed, while some dogs deliver their puppies in a steady succession, others may deliver one or two puppies, take a break for an hour or so and then deliver a couple more. This depends on the shape and size of your dog. Dogs that have a narrower head are easier to deliver than dogs like pugs who have rounder heads. If your dog goes several or more hours without straining, call your vet within twenty-four hours. This is to verify that your dog is done delivering and is in good health and that she didn’t retain any other placentas.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant

If your dog is pregnant, you might notice some behavioural changes which can help you make sure there is going to be a litter of puppies 

Behavioural Changes

  • Spending more time with you and seeking out attention. 
  • Spending more time away from the family.
  • Not playing as much and lacking energy.
  • Near the end of her gestation, your precious pooch will probably start making a nest have her puppies in


Physichal Changes

  • Your dog’s appetite may change
  • Her abdomen will grow, and she may suddenly gain weight
  • Your pooches nipples will grow and become dark coloured and hardened.
  • Her nipples may occasionally leak milk.



I hope this helped and that you and your dog will be stress free throughout the delivery of then new pups

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