How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?: Puppies are thrilling. If you are new to mating, or you are keenly waiting for the birth of the private puppy from a litter of breeders, then the wait is eternal. The gestation period in dogs is extremely less than in humans.
To know how long are the dogs pregnant, first, you need to understand the reproductive cycle of the dog. Approximately female dogs experience heat every six months. This can also vary from dogs and the type of their breed. The answer of How Long Do Dogs Stay In Heat? is from about six months to the rest of her life, a bitch will experience heat or estrus roughly every six months throughout her life.
How Long Are Dogs Pregnant? Reproduction Cycle
The cycle of heat ranges from 18 to 21 days and can be broken in four different stages. Breeder utilizes these stages in order to determine the suitable time for their dogs to breed. The following are the four stages of the reproductive cycle of the female dog:
The first stage of the reproductive cycle is Proestrus, it lasts for approximately 9 days. It happens when females are attracted by their males, however, they completely reject the advances until stage two is started. The signs of the first stage include:
- Swollen Vulva
- Discharging Blood
The second stage, Estrus, ranges from 3 to 4 days or 7 to 11 days. This is the time when the female dog is ready for mating from the male dog. Most breeders get a veterinarian for taking vaginal smears and other tests like blood etc, during the first and second stages.
This is done to make sure that whether the dogs are ready for breeding or not. They confirm the optimal time for their dogs breeding. Estrus signs include:
- The vulva is enlarged and soften
- Discharge color lightens and decreases
The third stage of the reproduction cycle is Diestrus. It happens on the 14th day. During this stage, the discharge of the female dog becomes redder and wears off. The vulva comes back to its normal position and the bitch is no longer ready for mating.
The heat is completed when all the signs of discharge and swelling are gone. The time between one heat cycle and the next is called anestrus. It usually goes long enough for about a good six months.
To understand the heat cycle is very important in order to determine the time duration of the pregnancy. Breeders may calculate the dates of conception by keeping a track of their dogs breeding period and heat cycle.
Gestation Period in Dogs
- 58 Days to 68 Days.
Gestation Period in Cats
- 58 Days to 67 Days.
Gestation Period in Wolfs
- 62 Days to 75 Days.
How To Know If Dogs Are Pregnant?
Human beings have discovered immediate tests for pregnancy that make it very simple to determine if someone is pregnant or not. But it is not very easy for dogs. You will definitely have to visit the veterinarian to get confirmed about your dog’s pregnancy.
Make sure you tell the veterinarian exactly about the breeding of your dog, your perfect time estimate of the heat cycle and different stages. Keep in mind that all the testing methods of your dog’s pregnancy are sensitive to time.
There are four methods that are used by veterinarians to check whether the dog is pregnant:
- Hormone Tests
X-Ray Findings For Dog Pregnancy
An X-ray is the best way for breeders to determine how many babies a female bitch is expecting. It is most efficient later in pregnancy, as the skull and spine of the fetal is not visible on X-ray until day 42 through day 45.
Waiting for about 55 days allows the veterinarians to get the accurate number of the puppies that the female dog is expecting. This also helps in determining the best suitable time for an elective cesarean.
Palpation Method For Pregnancy Diagnoses
It is the easiest and cheapest way to diagnose pregnancy. As the fetus develops, a thin layer grows around them to form sacs that are filled with fluid. These sacs can be sensed between days 21 to 35 of pregnancy.
Then it grows to approximately the small size of a tennis ball in a dog of 45 pounds. After one month, the shape of the sac is lost and a floppy feel on the uterus is developed that can be mixed with the fat or a pyometra.
Hormone Tests (A Common Veterinary Method)
Relaxin Hormone in the female dog is tested by the veterinarian to determine whether it is pregnant or not. Placental tissue releases this relaxin hormone only during the gestation period in dogs.
This makes it an accurately fair diagnostic test to determine the pregnancy in dogs. However, for this test to be done the female dog must be at least one month pregnant for the best results. Test before this time can give negative results.
Ultrasound The Perfect Method
An ultrasound is a perfect way to find out whether the female dog is pregnant or not in the early stages. Veterinarians also prefer ultrasounds but between the days 25 to 35 of the pregnancy. Ultrasounds not only tell about pregnancy but also about the fetus.
Ultrasounds can also tell whether the fetus is breathing or not by their heartbeats. You can also know about the causes of uterine distension by ultrasound like a pyometra and can be helpful in calculating the pregnancy age of the fetus.
Gestation Period: How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
The gestation period in dogs is normally for 63 days from conception, although this can variate by a few days. As this seems like a simple and straight answer, but sometimes it is hard to estimate the conception.
Sperm may live for a few days inside the uterus of the female, eggs may remain fertile for the 48 hours, this means the action of mating itself is not the accurate measurement of the pregnancy. This makes hard to determine the length without the help of the veterinarian.
Hormone calculation gives a more accurate time for pregnancy. Most breeders prefer blood tests and vaginal smears to examine the reproductive hormones during the process of breeding in dogs.
This assists them in determining the perfect time for their dog to breed, along with the time duration of the gestation period and the expected due date of the delivery. Pregnancy length according to the calculations of the hormones:
- 56 to 58 days from the initial day of diestrus.
- 64 to 66 days from the beginning of the rise in progesterone.
- 58 to 72 days from the initial time the female dog allowed breeding.
Pregnancy in dogs is comparatively shorter than humans, about 9 weeks total. Each day of the dog’s pregnancy is important for the breeders and the dogs. It is very important for the health of the pregnant dog to know the length of the pregnancy.
It is used to monitor veterinary care during the gestation period. A female dog must be in heat in order to get pregnant. In dogs who have not got spray surgery, it happens every six months to them. The heat cycle is for 18 to 21 days.
The female dog can be receptive to the male dog starting at around 9 days into the heat cycle. They can get pregnant any time in the next three to eleven days. Breeders can keep a track by running tests etc in order to calculate the time of delivery.
Pregnant Dogs Stages
Dogs may pass through different stages of gestation period very quickly. Puppies develop in just two to three months inside their mother’s womb. Stages of the dog’s pregnancy are explained further below:
During this period, the embryos move to the uterine horns, on day 7, the developed embryos are fixed firmly in the lining of the uterine about day 16. The fetus starts developing the shape on about day 22 and after day 28 you can hear the heartbeat through ultrasound.
Most dogs show zero symptoms during their first month of pregnancy, but you can judge them by the following actions:
- increased appetite
- enlarged nipples
- affectionate behavior
- decreased physical activity
- clear discharge from the vagina
- morning sickness
Development of the fetus moves quickly during the second month. Eyelids are formed by day 32 and toes develop by day 35. Then the claws are formed by day 40, followed by the skeleton and the coat a few days later.
By day 50, an x-ray can reveal the number of puppies expected by the bitch. The bitch will be restless and will desperately need a quiet place to nest at day 58. Signs of pregnancy are more obvious in the second month:
- increased appetite
- gain weight by 20 to 50 percent
- behavioral changes
- increased urination
- enlarged abdomen
- vaginal discharge
- puppy movement in the abdomen
The female dog is ready to give birth at the beginning of the third month. Puppy is developed completely around day 58 which means puppy will now travel in the whelping position in the birth canal.
Symptoms during the last days of pregnancy include:
- the waist will trim as puppies travel to the birth canal
- restless behavior
- drop in body temperature 12 to 24 hours before labor
- pacing, shivering, digging or panting
- loss of appetite
Stages Of Dogs During Labor
Once the gestation period is over, labor begins. Labor includes three stages:
The first stage lasts from 12 to 24 hours and is not noticeable from outwardly. Contractions in the muscular wall of the uterus increase throughout the first stage, both in frequency and strength but no visible contractions are evident.
You may look for the following symptoms in dogs:
- disposition and change in behavior
- reclusive behavior
- refusing to eat
- clear vaginal discharge
Puppies are delivered during the second stage. This stage can take from 1 to 24 hours, and dogs deliver only one puppy at a time. Delivery should not exceed from 1 to 2 hours and occurs at every 30 to 60 minutes.
This is why it can be helpful if you know the total puppy count. In this way, the owners know that the female dog is finished delivering the puppies at stage two and can call their veterinarian if they suspect that dog is having an issue.
The placenta is delivered at the third stage. Stage two and stage three actually happen at the same time and stage three is complete when all the placentas are delivered. This usually occurs right after stage two is completed.
You must contact your veterinarian if the dog’s labor is taking more than a day or if more than 2 hours are passing between the two puppies. This can result in a serious complication, for both the dog and its puppies lives could be in danger.
Next Step For Pregnant Dogs
How long is a dog pregnant? Just enough for a litter of healthy and happy puppies to develop. As far as you teach yourself and follow the proper feeding and caring for your dog and newborn puppy, you will be giving them a healthy start.
Visit Cross River Animal Hospital as it is a full-service veterinary hospital, and boarding facility that also provides doggy daycare.
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