Thinking about mating your dog? It can be a daunting task so we’re here to help taking you through what to expect when she’s expecting! First off, pregnancy in dogs lasts around 60 days or 9 weeks in which time your future litter of puppies will develop from tiny little cells.
Ovulation, mating and fertilisation. Your bitch may need to mate more than once for successful fertilisation. Stick to your normal feeding and exercise regime, but consider adding nutritional supplements (consult with your vet) to support the pregnancy and your bitch’s changing needs. Do not use any flea treatments or wormers during the pregnancy without first consulting your vet.
The tiny cells that will become puppies begin to grow and separate. The new embryos travel into the uterus for the period of gestation. Continue to feed and exercise your dog normally in week 2 of pregnancy.
The embryos will begin to embed in the uterus where they will get the essential nutrients and life support from the bitch’s body. The foetuses are now under 1cm long at this stage. You should continue to feed and exercise your dog normally, but begin to keep an eye on your bitch for increased appetite and provide for this need accordingly.
In week 4, the foetuses grow to around 1.5cm long. The face, eyes and spine begin to develop and take shape. Week four is often considered to be one of the most formative stages when the puppies are most vulnerable. Your vet may be able to detect the presence of the developing puppies by gently palpating the abdomen. The teats may start to swell and your bitch may have a thin, clear discharge from the vagina. At this stage you should start to reduce rough play and extensive exercise. Your vet will be able to advise if you need to feed any nutritional supplements.
In week 5 you will notice your bitch’s weigh increase and you should increase her food if you have not done so already. Feed little and often and start to introduce your chosen puppy food into her meals. If you want to have an ultrasound to determine the number of puppies your bitch is carrying, this is normally done in week 5. The amniotic fluid in the uterus increases to protect the puppies and the puppies are now at much less susceptible to developmental issues.
In week 6 your dog will have a much larger tummy that will continue to grow on a daily basis. Her nipples will darken and the puppies will begin to develop their unique markings. You will need to increase your bitch’s food as well as increase the ratio of puppy food in her diet. Your vet may have suggested feeding a multivitamin too at this stage. In week 6 you should also prepare the bed or box that your bitch will use for whelping. You will need to make this very well padded and comfortable for your bitch. Find a suitable location for the box and encourage your dog to start sleeping there.
In week 7 you should stop feeding the puppy food and revert back to your bitch’s normal food but still allow her to eat as much as she likes. She will also start to shed the hair on her belly in preparation for the birth.
From week 8 onwards, the puppies can be born at any time but rough play or stimulation should be avoided to reduce the chance of early labour. Your bitch will start to produce colostrum and the nutrient rich milk. Continue to feed her as much as she will eat.
The birth can come at any time now so be prepared! Your dog will become quiet and should be well established in her whelping box preparing for the birth. Carry on feeding her as much as she will eat, it’s normal for her appetite to diminish. You will need to take your bitch’s temperature several times per day and if the pregnancy exceeds the 60th day, take her temperature every few hours, day and night in order to identify the onset of labour.
Enjoy your new litter of beautiful puppies!