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Spotting the signs of dog pregnancy

Welcoming the pitter-patter of tiny paws into your home is an exciting time for you and your dog. However, it isn’t always easy to spot when your pet is expecting.

Whether you’re planning your pet’s pregnancy, or your bitch is already expecting, the Purina PetCare team will guide you through the things you can look out for to tell if your dog is pregnant. Being prepared will help to make your pet's pregnancy as simple and stress-free as possible for her – and you.

Dog pregnancy

Dogs are able to get pregnant when they come into season, which happens about once every eight months. This fertile period is also known as “being in heat”, and lasts for up to three weeks. As well as getting pregnant during this time, your dog may get into altercations with males if she doesn’t feel quite ready to mate. Walking her on a lead during her season can help her to avoid any scuffles and, if you don’t want a male to mate with her, their amorous advances.

As pregnancy can be expensive, and emotional for both you and your dog, breeding is often best left to the experts. If you’d like to avoid your dog getting pregnant, you may want to consider getting her neutered. See our Neutering Dog page for more information.

Dog pregnancy usually lasts between 61 and 65 days, but you may not notice any obvious physical changes in your dog until she is already well into her term. There’s no such thing as an at-home dog pregnancy test, so how do you answer the question “is my dog pregnant”?

There are several signs to look out for that suggest puppies could be on their way.

quot1Expecting puppies is exciting, but can be a strain on your dog. The Purina Pet Care Team make sure you have all the information you need to help keep mum healthy during this time. quot2

How to tell if a dog is pregnant

Border Collie on beach
  • A slight mucus discharge may occur around one month after mating.
  • Her teats may become more prominent in colour and size around 30 days after mating, and you may also see them produce a semi-clear fluid.
  • Similar to our “morning sickness”, your dog may vomit a little in the early stages of pregnancy. If this continues, or you have any concerns, speak to your vet.
  • She will start to gain weight from around day 35 of her pregnancy, which will gradually increase by up to 50% above normal.
  • You should be able to notice her swollen tummy from around day 40, although first-time mums, and bitches carrying a small litter, may not show as much.
  • She may act a little quieter than usual, or her appetite might drop. These signs can also indicate a problem, so speak to your vet if you’re concerned.
  • Your pregnant dog’s appetite will increase in the second half of pregnancy, so be prepared to change her diet accordingly.
  • Your vet can confirm a pregnancy with either a “dog pregnancy test”, which measures her hormone levels, from days 21-25 of her term, or by ultrasound from day 20-22. From around day 30 your vet will be able to carry out a physical examination to count how many puppies your dog is having. This may not always be accurate, so be aware that you could have more puppies on the way than you thought!

Although your dog should be able to handle pregnancy and labour herself, being on stand-by to offer soothing words can put her at ease, and also allow you to step in should anything unexpected happen. Mum will give you plenty of hints to let you know her labour is beginning and her pups are on their way.

  • You may notice your bitch looking for somewhere quiet to give birth towards the end of her pregnancy. You can help her by creating a ‘nest’ in a secluded, warm area. Read our guide on Tips For A Healthy Pregnancy for more advice on caring for your pregnant bitch.
  • Her teats may become more prominent in colour and size around 30 days after mating, and you may also see them produce a semi-clear fluid.
  • Similar to our “morning sickness”, your dog may vomit a little in the early stages of pregnancy. If this continues, or you have any concerns, speak to your vet.
  • She will start to gain weight from around day 35 of her pregnancy, which will gradually increase by up to 50% above normal.
  • You should be able to notice her swollen tummy from around day 40, although first-time mums, and bitches carrying a small litter, may not show as much.
  • She may act a little quieter than usual, or her appetite might drop. These signs can also indicate a problem, so speak to your vet if you’re concerned.
  • Your pregnant dog’s appetite will increase in the second half of pregnancy, so be prepared to change her diet accordingly.
  • Your vet can confirm a pregnancy with either a “dog pregnancy test”, which measures her hormone levels, from days 21-25 of her term, or by ultrasound from day 20-22. From around day 30 your vet will be able to carry out a physical examination to count how many puppies your dog is having. This may not always be accurate, so be aware that you could have more puppies on the way than you thought!

In most cases, dogs deliver puppies smoothly and you shouldn’t have to interfere. However some signs, such as discoloured discharge or mum straining without producing pups, could suggest complications. If you notice either of these or have any other concerns, contact your vet. See our guide on Dog Labour And Giving Birth.

Brown Labrador resting
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If you’d like more information on spotting the signs of dog pregnancy or have any other queries, contact our PETCARE EXPERT TEAM

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