If you’re wondering whether your dog is pregnant, there are some signs and symptoms to help you figure it out. The first question to ask is if she’s recently been in heat. Dogs reach sexual maturity anywhere from 6 to 16 months, depending on the breed and individual dog. This means they can get pregnant, but it’s advisable to wait until a dog is 18 to 24 months old before breeding her.
Other signs that your dog may be pregnant include weight gain, enlarged nipples, and nesting behavior (preparing a comfortable space for the puppies). If you’re concerned that your dog may be pregnant, the best thing to do is talk to your veterinarian.
The following list contains the progressive signs of dog pregnancy. Please note that not every dog will experience each and every symptom – it is usually the presence of a group of symptoms that will give owners a decent idea of whether their dog is pregnant.
1. Anything that deviates from your dog’s normal behavior might be an early indication of pregnancy. For example, a stand-offish dog may suddenly become clingy, while a normally affectionate dog may seek to be left alone.
2. Many dogs will lose their appetite during the first few weeks of pregnancy, and may not want to eat anything. However, eventually their appetite will come back, and they will need nearly twice as much food to support the pups.
3. Some, but not all, dogs will vomit intermittently during the first few weeks of pregnancy. This can range from clear mucous to actual food. The use of the word “morning” can be a bit misleading since the vomiting can occur at any time of day. If your dog is showing any signs of illness, please consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
4. Many females will experience some level of breast development after their first heat cycle. However, if breasts continue to grow, it’s usually a sign that the female is pregnant.
5. Many pregnant dogs will spend a good deal of their time resting, if not fully sleeping. This is mainly noticed during the early and final stages with the dog rebounding a bit during mid-pregnancy.
6. If you notice green discharge, especially late in your dog’s pregnancy, it’s likely that a pup has defecated in the uterus. This is natural and not cause for alarm unless the discharge has a foul odor or is brownish.
7. The dog’s abdomen will gradually grow in size as the pregnancy progresses and the pups inside her develop and grow bigger. This change in size is usually not noticeable until mid-pregnancy.
8. The breast development noted in early to mid-pregnancy usually leads to milk production during the last stage of gestation, but some females don’t start producing milk until the puppies actually start nursing. So, if you’re a female, and you don’t see any milk yet, don’t worry – it’s completely normal.
9. Once the puppies have grown to a decent size, you can check if they’re active by gently placing your hand on your female dog’s abdomen. You typically won’t feel movement if the pups are asleep, so it’s best to check after your dog has had some mild exercise – like right after a walk, for example.
The most foolproof way to tell if your dog is pregnant is to have her checked by a professional. Vets can feel for fetuses as early as 20-30 days post-conception, and by 25 days post-breeding, they can use ultrasounds to detect them. X-rays taken 45 days after breeding can determine how many pups to expect. On average, a dog’s pregnancy lasts 63 days, though some dogs may give birth as early as 54 days or as late as 74 days.