While pregnancy in dogs typically lasts about 63 days from conception, it can actually be quite tricky to determine the date of conception. Today our Davidson County vets explain how to tell if your dog is pregnant and when puppies may be due.
The Reproductive Cycle in Dogs
Female dogs that have not been spayed will go into a heat cycle approximately every 6 months depending on the breed. The first 3 stages of a heat cycle typically occur over the course of 10 - 20 days. Knowing which stage of heat a dog is in helps breeders to plan the best time to breed their dog.
Stage 1 - Proestrus
The first heat stage in a dog's reproductive cycle is when the female dog will begin to attract males, but she is still likely to reject their advances. Signs of proestrus include swollen vulva and bloody discharge.
Stage 2 - Estrus
This second stage of your dog's heat cycle can last anywhere from 3 days to 11 days. During the estrus stage, your female dog will be receptive to interested males. Signs of estrus include a soft and enlarged vulva, and a lightening of the discharge.
Stage 3 - Diestrus
During this stage, your female dog's discharge will change to a darker red then begin to slow, her vulva will return to normal, and she will begin to reject males.
Stage 4 - Anestrus
Anestrus is the name for the time period between heats, what you may call 'normal'.
How Long is a Dog Pregnant
While the normal gestation period for a dog is about 63 days, this number varies widely.
Determining the date of conception can be challenging since sperm can remain alive inside of the female for several days, and eggs are able to remain fertile for up to 48 hours. This means that even if you know the date of mating, it may not be the first day of the dog's gestation period.
How to Tell if a Dog is Pregnant
Since pregnancy in dogs is only about 9 weeks, each day matters. Knowing the length of your dog's gestation period is important for the health of your dog and her puppies. The best way to discover whether or not your dog is pregnant is to book an appointment at your vet.
To determine whether your dog is pregnant or not your vet may recommend one of the following tests:
As your dog's pregnancy develops sacs of fluid begin to form around each fetus. Your vet will be able to feel these sacs when your dog is around 21 - 35 days into their gestation. After about 4 weeks of pregnancy, the sacs will begin to lose shape and become floppy.
If your dog is at least 30 days pregnant your vet can test for the pregnancy hormone relaxin. Unfortunately, hormone testing early than 30 days can lead to a false negative.
Digital X-rays give off extremely small amounts of radiation and are considered safe for pregnant dogs. X-rays can also be an effective way to detect pregnancy in dogs once they are at least 42 weeks into their pregnancy. At 55 weeks your vet may be able to determine how many fetuses are present and provide you with an approximate date for when you should expect puppies to be born. This is especially helpful if your dog will be having an elective cesarean.
The very best way to determine whether or not your dog is pregnant is with ultrasound imaging. Most vets recommend an ultrasound scan if they believe your dog is between 25 - 35 days pregnant. A detailed ultrasound scan will allow your vet to clearly see whether your dog is pregnant, determine whether the fetuses are alive (heartbeat can be seen), and calculate the gestational age of each fetus.
If your dog isn't pregnant an ultrasound scan can provide your vet with valuable insight into why your dog may be experiencing uterine distension.
Caring For Pregnant Dogs & Puppies in Davidson County
Our vets at Thomasville Veterinary Hospital can examine your dog for signs of pregnancy, and use our in-house digital X-ray or ultrasound technology to confirm pregnancy and provide you with an approximate birth date.
Once puppies arrive our vets can provide you with the expert advice, guidance and veterinary services you need for your new four-legged family members over the course of their critical first year of life.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
Do you think that your dog may be pregnant? Contact our Davidson County vets today to book an examination for your canine companion.
Looking for a vet in the Thomasville area?
We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.
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