bitch and dog playing together while owner wonders how to tell if your dog is pregnant

Welcoming new life into the world is arguably the best feeling ever, or is it? As exciting as the prospect may be, it comes with its own set of challenges. And some dog owners would rather their dogs never become mothers.

Being a dog-owner for over 9 years, however, I can assure you that knowing how to tell if your dog is pregnant is vital if you want your dog, and her unborn frisky fur-balls, off to the best start.

Related Read: How To Potty Train Your Puppy

You Can Know How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant like a Pro

Since your pet wasn’t spayed, it’s either the breeding was planned or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t, and you suspect she’s about to become a mother, then there’s the need to know how to tell if your dog is pregnant.

If you think that your dog may have been bred accidentally, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. If you are planned breeding, your vet appointments should already be scheduled.

Related Read: How To Crate Train Your Puppy

In either case, it’s often challenging to find out, especially during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Nonetheless, it is possible to know how to tell if your dog is pregnant like a vet would by looking out for certain specific indicators.

Signs to look out for

Pregnancy in dogs lasts for roughly 63 days from the time of conception. However, the duration may vary depending on certain factors. Dogs are usually pregnant for three trimesters, each about 21 days long.

First month

Embryos travel to the uterine horns and set themselves in the uterine lining. Your dog may not give much away at this stage. Regardless, you should be on the lookout for certain signs.

Your dog’s appetite may increase. Additionally, her nipples may become more prominent. She may also become dull, and more affectionate. Also, you may notice a clear vaginal discharge.

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Second month

Fetuses begin to develop quickly. Eyelids, toes, claws, coats, and skeletons all begin to form and become visible.

During this period, the dog gains much weight, urinates frequently, eats more, her vaginal discharge becomes clearer and odorless, her abdomen enlarges, and movement of puppies in the belly may be visible.

During the latter parts of this period, however, your dog’s appetite may decrease.

Third month

Puppy development is more or less complete by the end of this stage. And puppies will begin moving into whelping position in the birth canal.

During this late stage, your dog starts to grow restless, loses appetite, and experiences a drop in body temperature. Again, your dog may begin pacing, panting, or digging more.

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Accurate Ways to Confirm Pregnancy

new puppy in a person's arms

There is a chance that your dog may display some of the signs listed and still not be pregnant. This phenomenon is known as pseudo-pregnancy.

Pseudo-pregnancy may occur regardless of whether your dog mated or not. The dog may vomit occasionally. Her nipples may appear to have enlarged; she may have a decreased appetite; she may become, dull, restless, and may even begin nesting.

The condition may make it harder to know how to tell if your dog is pregnant. There are a few ways to know for sure if your dog is indeed pregnant.

1. Ultrasound scan

An ultrasound scan by your vet can detect the heartbeat of fetuses as early as three weeks after mating.

2. Witness relaxin test

A witness relaxin test can determine the amount of relaxin in the blood of your dog. Relaxin is a vital hormone secreted only during pregnancy. The test kit can detect relaxin only after the fourth week of pregnancy.

3. X-rays

An X-ray detects the skeletal system of the puppies. However, X-rays can only be used after six weeks of gestation. Before the sixth week, the puppies’ skeletal framework isn’t fully developed.

4. Palpation

As early as three weeks, you can begin feeling the belly of your dog for the pups growing in the uterus. Care should, however, be taken to avoid injuring the puppies.

Taking Care of Your Pregnant Dog

pregnant dog smiling at the camera

When it comes to your pregnant dog, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Caring for your dog during this period helps to ease the strain of pregnancy and deliver healthy puppies.

In caring for your dog, you want to feed her with high-quality puppy food rich in protein, fat, and minerals. As the fetuses grow, and your dog’s appetite increases, you’ll need to purchase more food than usual. Your vet should be able to recommend performance foods fit for your pregnant dog.

If exercising your dog is a regular practice, then continue doing so by all means. However, make sure not to stress out the animal. Engage your pet in light exercises and games like walking, or fetch and catch. Don’t forget to keep the sessions brief.

Again, you should take your dog to the vet for regular check-ups to keep certain diseases and parasites that may harm mother and puppies at bay.

Ready for Your New Family?

Yorkshire puppy

When your dog is in heat, it can be hard to always keep a close eye on her. If you aren’t planning for pregnancy, the outcome of your dog’s actions could be unsettling. However, as long as your dog isn’t spayed, it’s a real possibility.

Puppies nonetheless aren’t a bad addition to your family at all. And knowing how to tell if your dog is pregnant puts you in a much better position to receive those cute fur-balls when they are due.

Have you ever been able to tell if a dog was pregnant? Why not tell us all about the signs you came across in the comments section below.