If your dog has not been sterilized, there is a chance she could meet other dogs and end up expecting little ones. It's not always easy to spot the signs of a pregnant dog as they are often quite discreet.
Source: Inside dog worlds
A canine pregnancy is not without its complications and it's important to be able to recognize these and know what to do, especially if this is your dogs first pregnancy.
We have put together a few ways to help you recognize if your dog is pregnant and make sure that this period is as smooth as possible for them and for you.
1. How do you recognize a pregnant dog ?
A dog's pregnancy usually lasts around 60 days, maximum 68. It's a relatively short period and during the early days, even months, the signs are not the easiest to recognize.
Your dog is probably pregnant if she displays the following signs:
- Her nipples swell because the blood supply to the mammary gland increases.
- You may notice a vaginal discharge. This sign appears approximately one month after mating.
- Some dogs lose their appetite and refuse to eat the food they normally eat.
- Your dog may also seem a bit sad and spend more time sleeping.
- Their belly swells. This sign only appears 45 to 50 days into the pregnancy.
- Just before giving birth, she may begin to scratch the ground or their bed to prepare their "nest".
2. What do the vets do if your dog is pregnant ?
If your dog shows one or several of these signs, a veterinarian will be able to confirm if your dog is pregnant and then assist you with the pregnancy itself.
There are two tests to confirm a dog's pregnancy. Firstly, a sonogram, which will be able to detect the pregnancy from 28 days onwards. Secondly, an ultrasound, which is also very reliable.
Source: American Kennel Club
None of these methods will be able to tell you the exact number of expected puppies at the beginning of the pregnancy. Smaller dog breeds usually have between one and four puppies, while larger dogs can have between eight and 12.
It is only 45 days onwards into pregnancy that an x-ray can distinguish their skeletons and therefore the number of puppies. The x-rays can however pose a risk to the future puppies.
3. Dangers linked to a dog's pregnancy
During the pregnancy period, a dog can be subject to health problems specific to dog pregnancy, some of which can be very dangerous. It's for this reason that it's very important that you're able to recognize the signs.
Here are all the risks linked to a canine pregnancy:
- Extrauterine pregnancy: This is when the embryo develops outside of the uterus which makes the pregnancy non viable. This phenomenon is extremely rare among dogs.
- Uterine rupture: At the end of the pregnancy, the uterus may open causing the foetus to move into the dog's abdomen. They then dry up and mummify. This phenomenon is very difficult to spot as the dog doesn't generally show any worrying symptoms. A uterus rupture can finish with an infection which will need an operation.
- Uterine torsion: One of the uterus tubes twists causing a significant amount of pain for the dog. This must be operated on immediately.
- Uterine hernia: The weight of the full uterus can pull it out the abdomen , through the groin. It then finds itself positioned at the level of the thigh where it can form a lump. The birth can still be carried out but it will have to be done by cesarian.
- Infections: During the pregnancy period, a dog can be particularly susceptible to salmonella and streptococcus infections.
- Medication: Some medication can lead to an abortion or a miscarriage. Corticosteroids, aspirin, tetracyclines ad even Vitamin A in too large a quantity can be dangerous.
A pregnant dog can also "super-gestate". This is when their heat cycle continues even if its already fertilised. This means that she can have puppies from two different dogs within the same litter. This doesn't pose any danger for her health.
To make sure you look after your dog in the best way possible, you can change her food, especially thanks to the new "super-foods" loved by dogs. You can also massage your dog to make sure she stays in good shape.
* * *
At Holidog, we aim to improve the lives of your furry friends. Enjoy your holidays with peace of mind, knowing your pet is in great hands (find a petsitter near you) and spoil them with our monthly subscription box filled with yummy treats and toys (they're going to love it). You can count on us!