The expectation of a litter of tiny, adorable puppies is exciting for everyone, and the female dog will generally go through their entire pregnancy and inevitable naturally and without your intervention.
However, it’s still important to be aware of the changes that are going to occur in your dog, which will become more and more obvious as the time for whelping draws closer.
The period of gestation, is the period of time between conception and delivery in the dog is much shorter than that of people, averaging between 58 and 68 days, depending on breeding and other factors. You will be able to get a good idea of a due date from your vet.
As your dog’s pregnancy develops, she will go through a whole range of both behavioural and physical changes, and how you care for her on a day to day basis will also need to change accordingly. As the time of delivery comes closer, your dog’s appetite will become huge, and she might eat twice as much as she does usually.
Canine mothers instinctively know what they need and what makes them feel comfortable when they are pregnant, and your bitch’s behaviour will alter accordingly. This differs in every dog as it does with every woman. Some dogs may have a very laid back period of gestation, others may be restless.
Your bitch will also likely seek out quieter areas of the home to relax and be alone throughout her pregnancy, so make sure that she has a safe, calm place to settle away from any hustle and bustle.
As your dog’s pregnancy progresses, she will naturally begin to look for the right spot in which he feels happy to deliver her litter. This is known as nesting behaviour, and is both perfectly normal and something that you should enable as much as possible.
Your dog’s nesting behaviour may also cause her to go around the home gathering up the things that she wants to have for her delivery, such as favourite blankets and nice soft cushions.
Female dogs become fairly defensive when pregnant, and particularly as the pregnancy progresses, so ensure she doesn’t get too agitated by noises and unsettled by loud visitors. If you have children make sure they know that your dog needs to rest and keep any other pets excitement to a minimum.
As well as the whole range of emotional and temperamental behaviours your dog will be going through a wide range of physical symptoms too.
As the pregnancy develops, your dog will of course gain weight; her mammary glands will swell, and towards the time of the birth, begin to produce colostrum, the fore-runner to milk. All of this is totally normal, but if you get the impression something is not quite right or have any questions, always contact your vet for advice.