Canine Gestation: What to Expect When Your Dog is Expecting

If your dog is pregnant, or soon to be pregnant, you’re probably wondering what you should do when your dog is expecting. It’s important for you to understand what to do when your dog is pregnant and learn the week by week period of canine gestation. Find out what’s going on in your dog’s body and how it will change along the way.

Canine Gestation Calendar and Week-By-Week

Canine gestation, also known as the period of pregnancy in dogs, typically lasts for approximately 63 days, or around two months. However, it’s important to note that the length can vary slightly depending on the breed and size of the dog. The gestation period is divided into three trimesters, each lasting about 21 days, during which the puppies develop within the mother’s womb.

canine gestation infographic from dogbehaviorblog

Week Zero to Two Of Canine Gestation

Breeding takes place on Day 1. Within a few days, the sperm reaches the eggs, and fertilization occurs. From days 8 to 14, the fertilized eggs make their way to the uterus for implantation.

You may notice behavioral changes in your dog that represent the first signs of pregnancy by the end of week two. She may be more affectionate or more on the grumpy side.

Week Three of Canine Gestation

From days 15 to 21, your dog may not only experience changes in her behavior, but also changes in appetite and breast development as the embryos develop.

Week Four of Canine Gestation

From days 22 to 28, your veterinarian will be able to see the fetuses. The spinal cords are developing in each pup, and they’re beginning to develop their facial features.

Your pregnant dog’s uterus will shortly fill with fluids to protect the fetuses, similar to how humans have fluid around a human baby. After this period, you may not feel the puppies for a few weeks.

As your dog’s morning sickness begins to wear off, her appetite may also increase. And, you can feed her more food to help the puppies growing in her body.

Week Five of Canine Gestation

From days 29 to 35, the fetuses will develop sex organs and start looking like puppies rather than embryos. The puppies’ leg buds get longer and you may see little toes on the ultrasound. The mother dog’s belly will start looking more obvious as her puppies are getting larger.

Since the puppies are taking up more room in her belly, she will also need more frequent meals. She will only be able to eat a little at a time before she’s full.

Week Six of Canine Gestation

From days 36 to 42, the puppies will continue to grow. Puppies will develop eyelids and your mother dog may become uncomfortable as her belly swells larger. You may notice her adjusting her position as she’s sleeping more frequently.

Mother dogs may also vomit occasionally since the puppies are now pushing against her stomach. You may also notice clear fluid coming from her vulva, which is normal as long as there aren’t large amounts.

Week Seven of Canine Gestation

From days 43 to 49, the puppies have become well-developed and will start increasing significantly in size in preparation for the world outside their mother’s belly. At this point, you can feel the puppies moving yourself.

The mother dog’s breasts are now more pronounced and contain the colostrum she will feed her puppies once they’re born. You should have a whelping box set up around this time.

Week Eight of Canine Gestation

From days 50 to 56, the puppies now have fur and will begin annoyingly crowding one another inside the mom’s belly. The mom will begin “nesting” during week 8 of gestation.

Week Nine of Canine Gestation

Now, you have reached week 9 of the canine gestation period. From days 56 to 63, the puppies are ready to see the world. They could be born any day now and be perfectly fine. When your dog is ready to give birth, she will stop eating. You will notice this about 24 hours before birth begins in most cases.

Care Tips for Your Pregnant Dog

Caring for a pregnant dog involves a good understanding of her needs during this vital time. Here are some tips to help ensure your dog’s pregnancy is as smooth as possible:

  • Nutrition: Once the pregnancy is confirmed, gradually change her diet to a high-quality, balanced dog food that’s designed for pregnant or nursing dogs. This should be rich in nutrients, proteins, and fats to support the growth and development of the puppies.
  • Exercise: While regular exercise is important, the intensity should be reduced as the pregnancy progresses. Gentle walks are ideal, but avoid strenuous activity that could potentially harm the puppies.
  • Vet Checkups: Regular veterinary checkups are crucial throughout the pregnancy to ensure both mother and puppies are healthy. Ultrasounds and x-rays can monitor the puppies’ development.
  • Comfortable Environment: Ensure your dog has a comfortable and quiet place to rest as she may become tired more easily. As delivery approaches, prepare a warm, quiet and comfortable area where she can give birth and care for her puppies.
  • Limit Stress: Minimize stress as much as possible. Maintaining a calm environment and sticking to regular routines can help.
  • Parasite Control: Keep up with regular deworming and flea/tick treatments. Certain parasites can be transferred to the puppies, so consult with your vet about the safest options during pregnancy.
  • Vaccinations: Ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date as immunity can be passed to the puppies. Some vaccinations are not safe during pregnancy, so it’s important to consult with your vet.

Remember, every pregnancy is unique, so ongoing veterinary care is essential to address the specific needs of your dog.

Following the Canine Gestation Calendar

Following the canine gestation calendar is a valuable tool for dog owners expecting a litter. This calendar maps out the 63-day gestation period of a dog, breaking it down week-by-week to highlight key development stages of the puppies and changes in the mother. Understanding this timeline can help owners provide appropriate care at each stage, such as altering the mother’s diet or exercise routine, preparing a whelping box for the impending birth, and knowing when to expect the first signs of labor. Regular veterinary checkups should coincide with this calendar to ensure the health of the mother and puppies throughout the pregnancy.

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