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The bitch pregnancy It is a very special process that some owners can go through. Although it is a unique and wonderful experience when pregnancy is desired and carried out responsibly, it can also be a real headache when conception has been accidental and there are not enough homes to accommodate all the little ones..
If you suspect that your dog may be pregnant, in this AnimalWised article you will find everything you need to know, we will explain how the pregnancy of the bitch is day by day, what are the care of a pregnant dog or the most obvious pregnancy symptoms among others.
In any case, remember that it will be highly recommended visit the vet to perform an ultrasound and know how many puppies are to come, as well as to know some special recommendations that our veterinarian may prescribe after observing the specific case. Find out below the bitch's pregnancy week by week, a complete informative guide that every owner should know.You may also be interested in: Pregnancy of a cat Index
- Symptoms of a pregnant bitch
- How can we confirm the pregnancy of a bitch?
- How long is the pregnancy of a bitch?
- When are the puppies noticeable?
- The bitch's pregnancy week by week
- Behavior of a pregnant dog
- Caring for a pregnant dog
- Childbirth of a bitch
- Labor problems
- Postpartum of the bitch
Symptoms of a pregnant bitch
You may have doubts about a possible pregnancy, since fertilization does not take place whenever there is intercourse, for this reason, it will be important to learn to recognize the symptoms of pregnancy in a female dog. But, ¿how to know if a dog is pregnant? The truth is that during the pregnancy of a dog some obvious symptoms are observed that will indicate that the gestation process has begun.
It is important to note that the pregnancy symptoms of a Maltese Bichon or the pregnancy symptoms of a Yorkshire terrier dog will be the same, however, the symptoms of a one-month pregnant dog or the symptoms of a pregnant dog about to give birth will they will be different.
The symptoms of a pregnant bitch are:
- Cycle: Generally bitches tend to experience heat twice a year, which usually varies between 4 and 13 months, however, this is not a reliable indicator, since hormonal changes can greatly alter it. It will be highly recommended to pay attention to other symptoms.
- Bulging belly: around 30 days of gestation, our veterinarian, by means of a physical examination, will be able to palpate the uterus that will be able to confirm the state of pregnancy.
- State of the nipples: This is probably the most obvious symptom of pregnancy, since during pregnancy the bitch's nipples increase in size and turn a more intense color.
- Vaginal dischargeChanges in the vaginal discharge of the pregnant dog are also frequent. We will be able to observe white or transparent vaginal discharges, never with blood, black or green.
- Behaviour: the behavior is an unreliable indicator to confirm the pregnancy of the bitch, but it is an aspect that we cannot ignore. It may happen that she is abnormally active or, on the contrary, much more apathetic. It is common for him to reject contact with other dogs, especially males, and for his attitude towards us to become more affectionate or more surly. There is also the search for the "nest ", it is then when the dog looks for shady and comfortable places to take refuge and have her litter there.
- Vomiting: around 35 days of gestation, when the uterus twists and turns, the bitch may experience certain annoyances that include vomiting.
- Feeding: Food is a fundamental aspect in the pregnancy of the bitch, but although most increase their appetite, some completely reject their usual diet. In the care section we will pay close attention to this important aspect.
If your dog shows some or more of these symptoms, it is probably because she is indeed pregnant and the arrival of the puppies is only a matter of time. Nevertheless, ¿How can we know if a dog is pregnant accurately? We explain it to you below.
How can we confirm the pregnancy of a bitch?
Currently there is no "pregnancy test in bitches " that can confirm pregnancy with a urine sample, therefore, to confirm the pregnancy of the bitch it will be highly advisable go to our vet trustworthy, who will tell us if she is indeed pregnant or if on the contrary it is a psychological pregnancy.
Performing veterinary tests is not only important to confirm pregnancy, it is also essential to ensure puppies are alive or that the mother is in good health. Below we explain different pregnancy tests in the bitch that you can perform in a veterinary clinic or hospital:
- Palpation- This test requires some skill and is probably the most economical method. It is important to note that it is not 100% reliable and that it will not reveal any health problems in the mother or in the puppies. It can be done 30 days after mounting.
- Blood test: the presence of a hormone called "relaxin " can confirm the bitch's pregnancy after 30 or 35 days of gestation. This test does not reveal the number of puppies, but it can give us information about the health status of the mother..
- Bone scan: X-ray tests can be carried out from 45 days of gestation, however, it is recommended to carry it out during the last third of pregnancy, when the risk that it entails for the puppies is minimal. Through an X-ray we can know the number of puppies and possible malformations that they experience.
- Ultrasound: it is the most common and recommended test during the bitch's pregnancy, since it indicates the number of puppies and also confirms that they are alive. It can be done after 25 or 35 days, but if it is not done exhaustively, some of the puppies can be overlooked.
¿How to know how many weeks pregnant my dog is?
¿Your dog is pregnant but you don't know how many weeks it is? Don't worry, after performing the tests mentioned above the vet will be able to determine more or less approximately which week of the bitch's pregnancy she is in. This will help us to provide you with the necessary care at this very sensitive stage..
Psychological pregnancy in dogs
Although we have observed all the symptoms mentioned above, it may happen that our veterinarian surprises us with an unexpected diagnosis: a psychological pregnancy.
Psychological pregnancy in bitches is a fairly common problem in unspayed bitches and can occur after a failed mating or for no reason. It is mainly due to a hormonal imbalance and it can represent a health problem for our dog, who will experience changes in behavior and milk production, which can lead to a breast infection if not treated properly. In some cases, psychological pregnancy may also require drug prescription and, in the case of being persistent, the veterinarian may recommend the castration of the bitch.
How long is the pregnancy of a bitch?
The dog's pregnancy has a approximate duration of 65 days, Although it can be variable according to size, the experience of the mother or other factors, so accurately predicting the moment of delivery is quite a difficult task, even for the most experienced veterinarians.
In some cases bitches can finish the gestation period between 58 or 63 days, but in other cases it can be delayed until 68 and even 70 days. There are some factors that influence gestation time, such as litter size. Generally, bitches that expect few puppies tend to give birth earlier, while those that expect a higher number of puppies tend to give birth longer..
When are the puppies noticeable?
Around the third week of pregnancy, by palpation, our vet will be able to confirm the pregnancy and the presence of embryos in the uterus. Already in the eighth week, we ourselves can perform gentle palpations on the abdomen of our dog, since fetal movements they will be very obvious. Then we can notice the little ones and even feel that they move.
It is important act calm and perform this procedure only from time to time, to avoid that the dog may feel anxiety when being handled constantly. It is important to know some of the 10 signs of stress in the dog to warn if we are being too insistent.
Remember that anxiety and stress have a direct impact on the mother and the puppies, negatively affecting their health and development. In addition, suffering from very severe conditions during this stage can cause the puppies to be born with a predisposition to chronic stress and to suffer from behavioral problems..
The bitch's pregnancy week by week
Once the pregnancy of the bitch has been confirmed, her state of health and some curiosities have been resolved, it is time to talk about the pregnancy of the bitch week by week. ¿What can we observe in a one month pregnant dog? ¿What are the most frequent symptoms in each week? ¿How a 50-day pregnant dog is going to behave?
Here we show you how it is the development of pregnancy in a dog week by week, but do not forget that the confirmation of all the mentioned symptoms does not exempt you from going to the vet to ensure that everything is going well and that, indeed, the pregnancy is developing as it should.
Stages of a bitch's pregnancy
Below we will detail in more depth what the stages of a dog's pregnancy are like, week by week:
- Fertilization: the copulation between two dogs takes place before ovulation and lasts approximately between 15 and 25 minutes maximum. During riding, the male ejaculates up to two times. Afterwards, the dogs stay glued until the male makes a third ejaculation of sperm into the female's vagina. Finally, the large bulb decompresses and they separate. After copulation, the dog's semen travels, waiting for the bitch to ovulate so that the ovules are fertilized..
- First week (0-7 days): once the eggs have been fertilized, they begin to divide in a process called "meiosis ". During the first week of pregnancy we will not observe any obvious symptoms of pregnancy, since the cells are dividing and gestation has begun in the uterus.
- Second week (8-14 days): in this stage the female sex cells continue to divide and, as in the previous week, we will not be able to notice any noticeable changes, apart from some inconspicuous behavioral changes.
- Third week (15-21 days): in the third week, the fertilized and divided ovules implant in the uterus of the bitch, causing bulges of between 0.8 and 1 cm. These "lumps " will turn into puppies and, in fact, small figures could already be observed. At this time we can go to our veterinarian to perform a blood test and ensure the good health of the mother.
- Fourth week (22-28 days): the embryos are already developing, very slowly, inside the bitch. In this week they already measure between 2 and 3 centimeters, being possible to perform abdominal palpation, and some of the symptoms mentioned above are also observed, such as breast enlargement or vaginal discharges. Puppies already have backbones.
- Fifth week (29-35 days): by the fifth week the embryos have increased in size, which is around 5 centimeters, and they begin to develop much faster. It is time to start paying close attention to feeding and other care of the mother, therefore, we recommend going to the veterinarian to receive some advice and perform the first ultrasound.
- Sixth week (36-42 days): around the sixth week is when the qualification of the bones begins, allowing an X-ray to be carried out that indicates the exact number of puppies that are on the way. It is also possible to listen to them by auscultation. The embryos already exceed 6 or 7 centimeters and, due to this, the abdomen of the bitch is becoming larger. It is time to prepare the nest of our mother and to continue paying attention to her care.
- Seventh week (43-49 days): at the seventh week the puppies have already reached the size they will have at the time of delivery and we will observe that the breasts already have milk. It is also possible that the bitch begins to decrease her food intake. It is highly recommended to do the X-ray this week, since we can more easily foresee some possible problems of delivery.
- Eighth week (50-57 days): at this time the conditioning of the nest takes on greater importance, since the female will begin to shelter there in a much more constant way. We must ensure an adequate temperature, as well as leave food and water within reach. Fetal movements are evident to the touch and the milk will begin to flow naturally. As long as we do not cause unnecessary stress on the dog, we can take a bath to ensure that the moment of delivery is as hygienic as possible. However, if we notice nervousness, we will use a dry cleaning shampoo.
- Ninth week (58-65 days): the time of delivery is approaching and the puppies are fully formed and ready to be born. It is very important to leave space for the bitch, since at this point she will begin to hide in the nest and appear slightly upset. You may experience contractions, involuntary urination, vaginal discharge, tremors, and vomiting. It is time to have the telephone number of a 24-hour emergency veterinarian at hand who can move to your home if necessary, since some delivery problems can be very serious and put the lives of the bitch and the little ones at risk..
Below we will explain in a general way what the care is in the pregnancies of a bitch, but we will also show you what delivery is like, what are the most frequent postpartum problems and many other curiosities that you cannot miss if your dog is pregnant.
Behavior of a pregnant dog
It is essential to pay attention to the behaviors of a pregnant dog, because we must know that stress or anxiety can cause serious developmental effects of puppies, being able to also condition the character of the dogs in their adult stage. Therefore, knowing how a pregnant dog will behave is key when it comes to providing the necessary care and preventing behavior problems..
We must know that at this stage there is a progressive social isolation, in which the bitch will spend more time being alone in her farrowing pen, especially in the days before giving birth. The ideal is to try to maintain a normal routine of walks, affection and games, always adapted to your state.
If we observe abundant signs of calm when we interact with her or that she rejects contact with us, we will allow it, supervising the dog without actually intervening. In no case will we generate more stress or anxiety than necessary.
It may also happen that the bitch shows aggressiveness towards other animals and even towards us, through grunting or marking. Although it is an unwanted behavior, we must also know that it is something frequent. In no case will we scold or punish her, but we will try to avoid all those behaviors that can cause a bad reaction. In the most serious cases, it is advisable to consult a ethologist or dog educator specialized in behavior modification, but in no case should we apply guidelines without prior knowledge.
Caring for a pregnant dog
Pregnant bitches need constant care and attention by their tutors, mainly related to food and comfort. It is always advisable go to the vet to guide us during this process, since each pregnancy is unique and each parent may need certain particular care to ensure good health and proper development of the fetuses.
Feeding a pregnant bitch
The feeding of a pregnant bitch is a fundamental aspect that guarantees the good health of the mother and an optimal development of the fetuses. Do not forget that they feed through the placenta, therefore, follow the advice that we show you below to ensure that your pregnant dog enjoys the best quality of life and the necessary care:
Until the fifth or sixth week of pregnancy the bitch will not begin to gain noticeable weight. At this stage we must feed her as we did before pregnancy, to avoid being overweight, which can affect pregnancy in a very negative way, causing possible problems in childbirth. The dog will continue to enjoy her walks and games like every day. Pregnancy symptoms won't be long in coming.
From the 36 or 42 days of gestation It is when we must modify the diet of the bitch, always under veterinary prescription, to a I think for puppies or "puppy ". From then on, we must increase the feed dose by 5% each week that passes. Remember that you must also feed the puppies inside.
Especially if you observe abnormalities in the dog's stool or a certain reluctance when it comes to eating, you can offer her cans of wet food, gastrointestinal feed and even bet on homemade diets, as long as you continue to offer her puppy feed. Stimulating your appetite is essential, as well as hydration, so you should never miss a bowl of fresh, clean water.
In the final phase of pregnancy, the bitch has less and less space in her body to house food. It may be interesting to offer a lesser amount of food but to increase the number of feedings, constantly replenishing it so that it continues to feed, however, it is very common for the pregnant dog to stop eating in the days leading up to delivery.
Once the puppies have been born, we will continue feeding the bitch with puppy food, but depending on her milk production, our veterinarian may or may not recommend a special formula..
Here are 6 basic tips for feeding a pregnant dog:
- During the first phase of pregnancy the bitch should eat as she did before gestation.
- In the event of nausea, divide your shots into several servings.
- Consult with your veterinarian about the option of offering nutritional supplements in the first phase..
- Avoid overweight and obesity in pregnant dogs.
- Do not administer any type of medication to a pregnant dog, consult your veterinarian.
- Call your vet whenever you notice any unusual symptoms.
Activities, exercise and other care
During the first weeks of pregnancy the bitch will continue to maintain a exercise routine and walks totally normal. ¿Can a pregnant dog exercise? The answer is yes, but always taking certain precautions. Around the fifth or sixth week we will begin to reduce physical exercise and we will bet on other calmer activities within the home, while, we will continue to take walks on a regular basis.
The bathroom is also an important factor to consider. ¿Can you bathe a pregnant dog? As we have told you before, it is advisable to do it towards the end of the pregnancy, to ensure that the farrowing pen is as hygienic as possible during labor..
¿And what about the vaccination and deworming routines of a pregnant dog? Not all the products that we find on the market are suitable during the gestation period, however, it is an essential process, since we must ensure that the puppies cannot suffer an infestation as soon as they are born. The most advisable thing is to go to the vet to detail when is the ideal time and what products we should use.
Affection and emotional care are also essential. Do not forget to spend time with your dog, whenever she allows it, to ensure that her emotional state is positive and stable, which will ensure a good development of the pregnancy the absence of behavioral problems.
Nest or farrowing pen for dogs
In the market you will find square-shaped structures called "farrowing " whose price can vary between 50 and up to 300 euros. They stand out mainly for having cylinders or plates that prevent the puppies from being crushed and are usually well isolated from the outside.
The farrowing should be located in an isolated room, away from the movement of people or other dogs, but it should also be accommodated with a mattress or cushion and some blankets. To avoid dirt, we can place a rubber or any other plastic surface on top, especially useful after birth. The farrowing pen should have natural light and a comfortable temperature, as well as be away from drafts or direct sunlight. The bitch will begin to want to be in the farrowing or "nest " days before delivery.
Childbirth of a bitch
Delivery is the most awaited moment of the bitch's pregnancy and probably the one that generates the most doubts. If your veterinarian has ruled out any risk and does not need a cesarean section, your dog can give birth at home, otherwise, when you observe the first symptoms of childbirth in the bitch, you should go to your veterinary clinic urgently.
Labor is a difficult time for the dog and you must let her manage her nervousness and anxiety, avoiding manipulating her or forcing her to do anything she doesn't want to do. Gently escort her to the farrowing room if she hasn't already been there. Even if you are not going to intervene, it is important that you keep a safe distance to ensure that everything is going smoothly. Remember to have the vet emergency number in case any complications arise.
Material needed for delivery
Here are some things that you should have prepared at the time of delivery, to ensure that hygiene levels are adequate and that you can manage any problem without nervousness:
- Newspapers to cover the floor of the farrowing pen
- Dry and clean towels to clean the puppies
- Kitchen paper to clean the floor if necessary
- Thermometer to take the temperature of the parent
- Dental floss to tie the umbilical cords
- Sterile scissors for cutting umbilical cords
- Hot water bag to ensure the temperature of the puppies
- Iodine to clean the umbilical cord cut
- A scale to weigh all the little ones
- A notebook to record the weight and other details of the puppies
Signs that your bitch is about to give birth
¿How exactly will we know when the time has come? ¿What should we expect from the moment of delivery? There are some signs that make it clear that the moment of the birth of the puppies is approaching, for that reason, you should know them all.
The labor symptoms in the bitch more obvious:
- Experienced bitches usually start to produce a lot of milk 48 to 24 hours before calving, while first-time bitches about 7 to 10 days before calving.
- A bitch about to give birth constantly tries to hide in her farrowing pen, let's give her space.
- Tremors, vomiting, and urine may appear.
- We will observe abdominal and uterine contractions, every 5 or 15 minutes.
- The bitch will expel a mucous-bloody discharge, for that reason, if your dog is pregnant and sheds mucus with blood or something similar to "brown discharge ", do not panic, it is that the delivery is approaching.
- The behavior of the bitch at this time will be very altered.
- Drop in body temperature between 1 and 2ºWhat can we know by taking the temperature of the bitch
¿How is the delivery of a bitch?
Especially if you are giving birth to a new dog, you need some advice to know if everything is going well. You should know that the delivery of the bitch can last up to 4 hours and that the rest time between fetus and fetus can be extended from 30 minutes to 2 hours, although it is not the most common. A sign that something is wrong is that the dog is having contractions and that she does not expel any puppies for a long time.
exist three phases of labor in the bitch:
- Relaxation or dilation of the uterus: from 4 to 24 hours long. The female prepares to expel the cubs. It is a time of restlessness and nervousness. The vulva becomes enlarged and may even secrete some fluids.
- Expulsion of the young: when the contractions begin to become intense and last for at least 60 seconds, we must be very relaxed and be attentive because the moment of birth is about to fall. We will observe how the genital area is licked. The contractions will be stronger and stronger until the first puppy is expelled from the body (still attached by the umbilical cord to the placenta). The rest of the puppies will follow him according to small intervals of time. In general, the delivery usually lasts about 2 hours, although it can be considerably lengthened if it is a very large litter. The female will lick the cubs to stimulate them while she cuts the umbilical cord. There are very few cases in which it does not do it, if you notice that it does not have the strength or does not carry out this task, do it yourself. Remember that you must count the puppies to know that they are all out according to the results of the X-ray.
- Expulsion of the placenta: during childbirth, each puppy is born wrapped in a placenta, on each of these occasions the bitch breaks it to let the puppy breathe and later eats it, since the nutritional value is very high. If you notice that it does not rupture the placenta, do it yourself, otherwise the puppies could die. In addition, we advise you that if the expelled placenta is too large, do not let your dog eat it, it can lead to digestive problems.
Labor and delivery in dogs is divided into 3 stages. Stage I lasts 12 to 24 hours. During this stage uterine contractions begin, but are not externally visible. The cervix also begins to dilate. During Stage II, abdominal contractions can be seen and the puppies are delivered. Puppies are generally delivered at 1-2 hour intervals, but that can vary considerably. Stage II can last up to 24 hours. Stage III is defined as delivery of the placenta. Dogs generally alternate between stages II and III until delivery is complete.
We can affirm that in most cases there are usually no risks in childbirth, even so and for this reason precisely, we have recommended throughout the article that you visit the veterinarian periodically during pregnancy, since the professional by performing different tests will tell you if your pregnant dog can give birth at home without any problem or will require specialized care.
If you observe any of the problems in the delivery of the bitch that we show you below call the emergency vet without delay:
- Absence of uterine contractions
- Uterine contractions without birth
- Fetus jam
- Retention of the placenta
- Fetal death
Some tips for the 3 most common problems:
- Jam from a puppy: If we observe a small puppy stuck in the birth canal, we will never pull it, we must rotate it clockwise to promote the opening of the vagina.
- The bitch cannot cut the umbilical cord: We will cut it with scissors ourselves, then we will tie a knot.
- A puppy does not breathe: We will open your mouth and we will give you artificial respiration, we will also massage your thorax region energetically and provide heat without hurting you. Shake it a bit while gently supporting its head. We must be very careful and know in detail the resuscitation of newborn puppies before delivery.
Postpartum of the bitch
If your bitch has given birth to your dogs by Caesarean section, You should pay special attention to the care of a dog after a cesarean section, to prevent the stitches from opening and to ensure that the wounds heal properly. Precisely when the bitch undergoes a cesarean section, it may happen that she rejects the puppies.
Remember that puppies are totally dependent on their parent, both to receive food and to regulate body temperature. Their milk is very important because it immunizes them from various diseases that may exist in the environment by means of a substance called "colostrum ". As we have mentioned before, if you notice that he does not lick or feed them you will have to do it yourself following the advice of AnimalWised on how to feed a newborn puppy.
Wrap them in cotton towels and we'll put them all in one small, warm environment. If your dog does not offer to suckle, you will provide her with the milk that you have purchased at the pet store, always in small doses and being very careful. Call your trusted vet and ask for advice.