Pregnant Dog

A Comprehensive Guide To Caring And Feeding Of A Pregnant Dog Leave a comment

Dogs are lovable creatures. A comprehensive understanding of breeding management is important for pet owners. In addition, caring for a pregnant dog is a very much tricky and important task.

Every dog owner wants to know about the management and care of a pregnant dog. Feeding also plays a vital role in the management of a pregnant dog. In this article, we are going to discuss the “feeding and caring of a pregnant dog” under the light of scientific literature and general field experience. 

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What Is Gestation Length In Dogs?

According to scientific literature, the average gestation period in dogs is 57-65 days (on an average of 2.5 months). However, being a responsible owner, you should note the exact date of mating, particularly, if there are two matings. Keep in mind that, prediction of the exact delivery date in dogs is very tricky and difficult to estimate.  

The gestation length varies from breed to breed. All along with that, other factors i-e litter size, genetics, environment, and feeding practices. 

What Are The Phases Of Pregnancy In Dogs?

For the better understanding, we have divided the pregnancy into the following phases:

  1. Movement of a fertilized egg to the uterine horn (This happens in the first month of the pregnancy, the egg attaches with the uterine horn on the 15th or 16th day of pregnancy).
  2. The growth of the fetus is very fast during the first month of the pregnancy.
  3. In the second month, the embryo develops into a puppy. 
  4. By the end of the second month, the dog will become ready to give birth to her young one.

Note: A vet can detect the heartbeat of the fetus by the end of the first month.

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How Do I Know My Dog Is Pregnant?

There are different signs which a pregnant female dog shows. Here, we have enlisted a few important key signs of pregnancy in dogs.

  1. Gradual weight gain 
  2. Distended abdomen 
  3. A sudden increase in the appetite 
  4. The dog becomes irritable 
  5. Gradual increase in the nipple size

Note: The above-given signs can be due to any underlying health condition. Being a responsible owner, you should keep eye on the overall health of your dog. This is better to consult a vet; he/she can help you in a better diagnosis.

How To Manage Nutrition For A Pregnant Dog?

As discussed earlier, good nutrition is very much important for a pregnant dog. This is important to keep an eye on the nutrition of a pregnant dog. In addition, there is a correlation between weight and nutrition. So, this is important to keep a pregnant dog on high-quality nutrition and a healthy weight. 

In short, being a responsible owner, this is your duty to maintain the ideal weight of the pregnant dog until birth.

Feeding care (1-6 weeks)

The first weeks of the pregnancy are considered very important. The chances of weight gain are greater in the early weeks of the pregnancy. This is why it is very crucial to maintain the body scoring of the pregnant dog (4-5) and the weight gain during the first weeks of pregnancy should be at 10%.

Also remember that, during these weeks, there is no need to change the energy requirements. If your dog is getting high quality, balanced diet, then no need to make extra feeding arrangements. 

Note: During the initial weeks of the pregnancy, there can be abrupt changes in the feeding behavior/appetite of your dog. No worries, these things are quite normal and occur due to hormonal changes. 

Feeding care (6-9 weeks)

The last weeks of pregnancy are very important. As the fetus grows, the energy and nutritional requirement of a pregnant dog also increase. This is important to give specialized puppy food to a pregnant dog in her last days of pregnancy. The specially formulated puppy diet contains the optimum amount of vitamins, energy, protein, and essential minerals (calcium and phosphorus). 

Important note: 

This is very crucial to note that the diet should be highly digestible and given into small portions. It will decrease the load on the gut of your beloved canine friend. Keep in mind, the dietary transition should be only done under the supervision of a certified pet nutritionist.

It is a thumb rule to give 10% extra energy to the pregnant dog each week until the whelping.

As far as water is concerned, try to provide the maximum amount of water to the pregnant dog. Make sure she has access to clean and fresh water all the time. If you are offering dry food to your canine buddy, do increase the amount of the water.

How Exercise Is Important For A Pregnant Dog?

Exercise plays an important role in maintaining the ideal weight. This is very important to go for slight exercise with your beloved canine friend. Avoid strenuous exercises as they can harm the pregnant dog. However, this is recommended to discuss this issue with a certified pet doctor. 

Note: This has been observed that frequent and short walks give lots of benefits to the pregnant dog. 

How Your Vet Can Examine A Pregnant Dog?

There are various tools that a vet can use to diagnose pregnancy in dogs. For example, palpation, Ultrasonography, hormone profile, X-ray examination

Palpation can be performed almost at the 28-30 days. Ultrasonography can be done approximately at the 25 to 35 days of gestation. A hormone test can be done at 25-30 days of gestation. X-ray is usually performed during the late pregnancy. Many vets do X-rays at 55 days of gestation to visualize the litter size and their skeletal structures.

Regular vet visits are important for the overall health of a pregnant dog. These visits help in preventing the pregnant dog from several health complications. For example, during pregnancy the worm infestations become common. This is better to get an appropriate deworming plan for your dog. 

Note: This is useful to deworm a pregnant dam with a suitable dewormer (Fenbendazole) starting at the third trimester to the last 14 days before the whelping. This thing will also reduce the chances of roundworm or hookworm infestation in newborn puppies.

Important Considerations

Here, we are going to share some important considerations regarding the care of a pregnant dog.

  1. Don’t overstimulate a pregnant dog. Do some light exercises with your beloved dog and don’t let her be lazy.
  1. Prepare a whelping box for puppies and layer it with newspaper or other material that easily absorbs the fluids. Also, provide the whelping box for puppies several days before the expected date. Keep the box in a clean and dry area and don’t let other animals/children around the box. 
  2. This is highly recommended to avoid those things which can disturb a whelping dog. For example, removing old carpet or furniture with which your dog is familiar. All along with that, strange scents, fragrances, sounds, sights can also interfere with the normal whelping process,
  3. Being a responsible owner, this is your foremost duty to keep the environment of your pregnant dog as soothing as possible. Also, provide the pregnant dog a supreme quality of nutrition.
  4. Last but not least, regular veterinary visits and proper nutritional guidance from a certified vet is very much important.

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Important Whelping Supplies:

Here, we are going to share a checklist of all the supplies which can help you during the whelping process.

  1. A pair of clean and dry towels to wipe the puppies.
  2. Sterilized scissors to cut the umbilical cord.
  3. Iodine solution to clean the abdomen of puppies after cutting the umbilical cords.
  4. Keep in mind; this is very important to monitor the body temperature of the pregnant dog before whelping. Hence, a thermometer should be there.
  5. Heat lamp
  6. A baby scale 
  7. Honey syrup
  8. Veterinarian contact number or the contact information of the nearby clinic.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What signs does a pregnant dog show as it approaches whelping?

The whelping signs vary from dog to dog. However, when a pregnant dog approaches whelping she stops eating/drinking. A sudden drop in rectal temperature occurs. Straining/moaning can also be observed. You can also observe the water coming out of the vagina. Almost within the first hour of the expulsion of the water sac, the first puppy comes out of the birth canal.

What are the important complications of labor a pregnant dog ?

If a pregnant dog is uneasy and unable to expel the puppies. There is the expulsion of green/dark blood discharge out of the vagina before the birth of the puppy. The trembling, shivering, and collapsing is also considered the complications of the labor.


England, G., 2012. Dog breeding, whelping and puppy care. John Wiley & Sons.

Taverne, M.A.M., Okkens, A.C. and Van Oord, R., 1985. Pregnancy diagnosis in the dog: A comparison between abdominal palpation and lineararray realtime echography. Veterinary Quarterly7(4), pp.249-255.

Baan, M., Taverne, M.A.M., De Gier, J., Kooistra, H.S., Kindahl, H., Dieleman, S.J. and Okkens, A.C., 2008. Hormonal changes in spontaneous and aglepristone-induced parturition in dogs. Theriogenology69(4), pp.399-407.

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