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Dog pregnancy: how to tell if your dog is pregnant

If you made the conscious decision not to get your dog spayed, then you may be considering breeding from her. 

This can be an exciting and highly rewarding time; this article is designed to give you information about how to ensure everything runs smoothly and what to do if any difficulties arise.

If you are considering breeding from your dog then it is a good idea to get her checked over by your vet.  Your vet will be able to check that she is in tip top condition. They will also be able to tell you about any genetic tests that are recommended prior to breeding; this will depend on what breed of dog she is. 

Your vet will be able to give you advice on what you can do to maximise the chance of a successful mating, how to tell whether she is pregnant and what to do when the big day comes. 

Is my dog pregnant?

Common signs of pregnancy in dogs include:

  • Vomiting early on in the pregnancy 
  • Slight mucus discharge around a month after mating
  • Swollen tummy and weight gain from around day 40
  • Occasional loss of appetite and subdued behaviour in the early stages
  • Increased appetite in the later stages
  • Red, enlarged or swollen teats

Make an appointment with your vet who will give your dog a thorough clinical examination.  
A blood test can be performed from 28 days after the mating to confirm the pregnancy. It is possible for this result to be falsely negative if the test is performed too early in the pregnancy. It is helpful to keep a note of the dates that your bitch is mated.

Alternatively, an ultrasound examination can be performed. This is usually recommended from around day 30. The ultrasound cannot accurately determine how many puppies she is carrying but should give you an idea.

How long are dogs pregnant?

A female dog that hasn’t been neutered will come into heat every six to eight months throughout their lifetime. They spend about three weeks in heat, and are prime for egg fertilisation during the last two of those weeks. 
The gestation period for most dogs is 63 days but this can range from 58 to 68 days.  

Preparing for labour in your dog

Most dogs handle pregnancy and labour with no problems and no interference, it should be noted that some breeds with larger heads are more prone to needing caesareans (for example bulldogs). That said, it’s good to be close by when the big day arrives, so you can step in and call the vet should anything unexpected happen. 
A common sign that your dog is close to giving birth is seeking out somewhere quiet towards the end of their pregnancy. You can help by providing a cosy spot in a warm, secluded area, complete with old towels or blankets.

The gestation period for most dogs is 63 days but this can range from 58 to 68 days.

Expert advice on dog pregnancy

For expert advice on dog pregnancy, and what to expect when your dog’s expecting, get in touch with your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.