The purpose of this article is to discuss the different stages of dog pregnancy and the proper steps that a dog owner should take during these phases to ensure a healthy pregnancy for the expectant mother.
It is very important to know when a dog is pregnant. Proper care and attention should be afforded to the pregnant dog as soon as possible, hence, determining the signs of dog pregnancy is an important skill that a dog owner must learn. This is especially true for dogs that are experiencing their first pregnancy, as such is considered the most delicate.
A dog’s pregnancy is composed of 8 weeks. A week by week pregnancy guide is vital for dog owners, as this will tell him what to expect and what to do during the different stages of dog pregnancy.
Below is an outline of the stages of dog pregnancy, specifically the 8 weeks of a dog's pregnancy, along with some tips for dog owners to observe.
1. First trimester pregnancy. On the first week of canine pregnancy, all the changes will occur within your dog’s system. This includes fertilization of the eggs in the mother’s oviducts. The dog will not show any outward signs during this period.
On the second week of canine pregnancy, the eggs will transform into blastocytes and eventually develop into embryos. Again, at this point of the pregnancy, your pet will act as normal and there will be no physical changes that can be observed. At the start of the third week of pregnancy, your dog’s nipples will grow larger and darker.
By the end of this week, the dog’s fur on her belly will grow thinner. Since physical changes are minimal during this stage, dog owners will find it difficult to determine if their pet is undergoing an actual pregnancy or something that is widely known as a "fake pregnancy." Nevertheless, it is always better to play it safe, hence, the following things should be observed at the slightest hint that the dog may be pregnant:
- Provide balanced diet for the bitch.
- Postpone scheduled vaccinations, as such can lead to unintentional abortion.
- Provide ample exercise opportunities for your dog to keep her in shape for eventual labor and to minimize weight gain during dog pregnancy.
2. Second trimester pregnancy. On the fourth week of canine pregnancy, the dog may suffer from morning sickness, which may become manifest via loss of appetite, lethargy and vomiting.
On the fifth week of pregnancy, the dam’s belly will begin to swell. This is because the size of the embryos will expand to be as big as walnuts. Veterinarians will be able to determine how many pups can be expected from the mother at this stage of the dog pregnancy.
The sixth week will be no different, though the dam’s abdomen will be bigger and she may start to lose her appetite completely. During the second trimester, food should be served in smaller rations, gradually increasing each serving’s quantity towards the end of this stage. Persistence is the key. Your dog has to eat, whether she likes it or not.
3. Third trimester pregnancy. This phase is the most critical among the stages of dog pregnancy. Once the expected date of delivery approaches, the dog owner should start cleaning the dam’s vulva and nipples regularly. The dog owner should also start monitoring the bitch’s rectal temperature.
Once the rectal temperature drops from the normal 101 degrees to 98 degrees, or once the vulva starts to produce clear discharge, delivery should be expected within the next 12 to 24 hours. Puppies should be born after the mother has whelped sometime between the 59th to the 64th day so that they’ll have great chances of survival.