A dog’s pregnancy typically lasts for a few months, with the average gestation period being about 63 days from conception.1 Since this timeframe is so short, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your dog’s body language and symptoms that can indicate a pregnancy. As soon as you find out your dog is pregnant, make sure to talk to your vet about caring for a pregnant dog.
In order for a dog to get pregnant, that dog must be in heat. A dog has four different stages during their heat cycle: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. If you’re planning on having puppies, it’s essential to know the signs of a dog in heat. You can talk to your vet to learn more about dog pregnancies, what to do if you want to have puppies, and how to take care of your pregnant dog.
So, how long are dogs pregnant? Keep reading to learn more about a dog’s gestation period, including how long dogs are pregnant and how the canine birthing process works.
Dog Gestation Period Timeline
Like humans, dogs go through a gestation period when they get pregnant. However, a dog’s pregnancy typically lasts about 63 to 64 days. During this two-to-three month period, each month will differ from the last as your dog experiences new symptoms and gets closer to whelping.
Below, we’ll go over the dog pregnancy length, highlight what goes on during pregnancy, and discuss what you need to know as a pet parent of a pregnant dog.
By about day 16 of the pregnancy, the embryos become embedded in the uterus. They will begin to take their shape and start to look like fetuses by the 22nd day. Pregnancy symptoms2 you may notice during this time include:
- Increased appetite
- Clear discharge
- Less energy
- Prominent nipples
- Behavioral changes
- Morning sickness
About four weeks after breeding, you can take your dog to the vet to figure out if they’re pregnant. Your vet will use an abdominal ultrasound to see if your dog is pregnant. They may also conduct a hormone test, perform an abdominal palpation, or perform an ultrasound of your dog. According to the American Kennel Club, ultrasound is the most accurate way to determine whether or not your dog is expecting.3
Even though you have a lot of time left in the pregnancy, it’s important to start thinking about how to take care of your future puppies at this stage. From house training a puppy to weaning puppies off milk, you’ve got a lot of work if you plan on raising a few pups. It’s also essential to make sure you’re feeding your pregnant dog the right food and taking good care of them. Doing so can ensure a healthy birth. Purdue University recommends gradually increasing your dog’s caloric intake by 35% to 50%.5
Keeping an eye on your dog during the first month of pregnancy is important because dogs may not show any symptoms for the first three weeks. As soon as you notice your dog showing signs of pregnancy, you need to take them to the vet to figure out if they’re pregnant or not. Pregnant dogs have different needs when it comes to nutrition and medical care, so it’s better to find out early on.
The fetuses will continue to grow during the second month of your dog’s pregnancy. The second month of a dog’s pregnancy is a critical time because a lot of fetal development occurs. This means you need to make sure your dog is getting the proper nutrition through their diet and remaining comfortable at home.
Here are some of the symptoms you might notice in the second month of your dog’s pregnancy6:
- Weight gain
- Frequent urination
- Clear vaginal discharge
- Decreased appetite
- Movement in abdomen
- Visibly larger midsection
Keep in mind that these symptoms can vary from dog to dog, and some dogs may experience more severe symptoms than others during pregnancy. If your canine is pregnant and dealing with other complications such as dog constipation, you should talk to your vet about what you can do to treat it. It’s also a good idea to see your vet for an x-ray around day 55 to confirm the size of the litter.7
In addition to making sure your dog is getting the nutrition they need, make sure that your pregnant dog is as comfortable as possible. This means creating a spot where they can relax away from other dogs and people. Try not to do anything that might stress them out during this time as well. Remember, pregnancy can be a difficult time for dogs, so they need all the help and care they can get.
Days 60 and beyond
The third month of a dog’s pregnancy is the final month, which means it’s time to prepare for the birthing process. Around day 58, the puppies will have finished developing and will start moving into the whelping position in the birth canal.8This can take a few days, so the actual date of birth will vary a bit.
During month three of a dog’s pregnancy, you should talk to your veterinarian about preparing for your dog’s birth. It’s crucial to create a safe space for your dog to give birth in, so your vet may recommend you prepare a whelping box. This is a designated area in your home where your dog can give birth in peace. The whelping box should be in a quiet, comfortable area where there aren’t any drafts. Make sure there aren’t other dogs or children coming in and out of the room where your dog is giving birth. Pregnant dogs need a tranquil environment during this time, so having a whelping box is key.
You should also ask your vet about potential warning signs to watch for when caring for your newborn puppies. Knowing what to do about a puppy not eating or a puppy whose eyes won’t open can save you a lot of stress and help you take better care of your puppies.
Canine Birthing Process
Now that it’s time for the canine birthing process, make sure you’ve got a whelping box set up where your dog can give birth. You can place this whelping box in a quiet, comfortable part of the house. It’s also a good idea to talk to your vet about how to make a whelping box. Here are some of the things you should have on hand when you’re making a whelping box for your dog:
- Non-skid bath mats
- Dry, clean towels
- Unwaxed dental floss
- Clean scissors
- Heating pad
The key to a successful canine birthing process is making sure your dog is comfortable. You don’t want your dog to feel threatened by other dogs or physically uncomfortable while giving birth, so make sure you’ve got a safe space for them ready.
Keep in mind that labor can last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours during the first stage.9 There are three stages in the birthing process, so set aside some time to be there for your dog. You may need to take a day or two off work to make sure there are no complications and your dog has everything she needs. Most births occur without any issues,10 but there’s always the possibility of a problem occurring. Speak to your vet to learn what problems can occur during your dog’s birth, how to minimize their risk, and what to do should an emergency happen.
Dog Gestation Period: Frequently Asked Questions
How long are dogs pregnant for in weeks?
So, how long does a dog pregnancy last? In terms of weeks, a dog is generally pregnant for about 8 to 9 weeks. That being said, it’s important to understand that dog pregnancies aren’t always the same. The duration of a pregnancy can vary by about 10 days. The best thing you can do if you want to keep your dog happy and healthy during their pregnancy is talk with your vet. With ultrasound imaging and regular checkups, your vet can help you monitor your dog throughout their pregnancy.
What are the early signs of pregnancy in dogs?
As a pet parent, it’s important to recognize the early signs of pregnancy in dogs.11 Dogs may display several symptoms that can indicate a pregnancy, including:
- Slight vaginal discharge
- Prominent teats
- Morning sickness
- Weight gain
- Swollen abdomen
- Behavioral changes
- Change in appetite
While these are all normal symptoms for a dog to experience during pregnancy, it’s essential to talk to your vet if your dog begins experiencing new or worsening symptoms. Monitoring your dog throughout their pregnancy helps ensure everything goes smoothly.
When do dogs start showing pregnancy symptoms?
While early detection is important when it comes to dog pregnancies, many dogs won’t show any signs of pregnancy during the first three weeks.12After this initial three-week period, your dog may start showing pregnancy symptoms. Keep in mind that some dogs show signs of pregnancy earlier than others, and only your vet can determine whether your dog is pregnant. If you think you might have a pregnant dog at home, you should take them to the vet for an ultrasound.
There’s nothing more exciting than a new litter of puppies, but taking care of your dog throughout their pregnancy is important. Knowing how long dogs are pregnant for is a crucial first step in taking care of your pregnant dog. A dog pregnancy typically lasts about 8 to 9 weeks, with symptoms beginning at about 3 weeks. When you find out your dog is pregnant, you should talk to your vet about caring for a pregnant dog. If you want to prevent a pregnancy, make sure to spay your dogs.
With Dutch, you can schedule a remote telehealth appointment with a vet from the comfort of your home. So, you don’t have to load your pregnant dog into the car and drive them to the vet if they’re experiencing behavioral issues or allergies. Dutch can even work with pharmacies to get prescription medication delivered right to your door. If you want quality pet care, try Dutch today.