Nothing is quite as exciting as the welcoming of new life into this world. And if it happens to be a litter of pups, then it magnifies the magnitude of happiness. Just like in humans, the prospect of a litter brings excitement, along with the stress and confusion of pregnancy with it. But how to tell if a dog is pregnant?
There are tons of things that need to be kept in consideration if you plan on breeding or your female dog is pregnant. There are a lot of things you need to be aware of and be careful about if your female dog is with puppies. You will need to learn about taking care of a pregnant bitch as well as how to treat the puppies once they are born.
Early Signs & Symptoms of Dog Pregnancy?
Usually, a female dog gestation period is somewhere between 58 to 66 days. This short tenure of pregnancy makes it difficult to catch the early signs when a female dog is pregnant. You will need to observe the habits and the physique of your dog to recognize if the dog is pregnant, and then offer her the necessary care during the rest of the gestation period.
Here are some of the early changes in the physique of the pooch that can point toward pregnancy.
Change in Teats:
When a dog is pregnant, first sign will be the changing teats. They will undergo a transition in their color and size. They will be the first indicators of pregnancy in dogs. Their size will grow and they will gain a darker texture.
They will also start to lose hair around the teats and this will make the underbelly of the dog very visible. This is the natural preparation of the body in the anticipation of puppies, to make it easier for them to feed. During the final days of gestation, milk starts to drip out of the teats, indicating that the delivery is now close.
Changes in the Body:
In dogs, pregnancy does not affect the physical shape of the body up until the latter half of the gestation. The female pooch will start to develop a thick waist and will get a filled tummy within around 4 to 5 weeks. During the last three weeks of gestation, the belly area becomes distended and round. The mammary glands become ripe and significantly become filled with milk, ready for the pups to feed once they arrive.
Movement of Pups:
One of the ways to tell if a pooch is pregnant, is by placing a palm over the belly of the dog and feeling the movement of the pups inside her. The movement should be check around the side where you can spot the rippling. If the puppies are moving around inside, you will be able to notice flanks move as the pups wiggle in the womb. This is more prominent during the final three weeks of the gestation period.
Methods to Determine if a Dog is Pregnant:
Vets have recommended following four techniques for determining the pregnancy in a female dog.
- Hormone Tests
- Ultrasound Scan
One of the main techniques used by the vets is the test for relaxin hormone for determining pregnancy in a female dog. Relaxin hormone is produced during the pregnancy only from placental tissues. This makes the results of this test pretty accurate. However, for the levels of hormones to be up to the amount required for positive testing, the dog needs to be at least one month pregnant. The test taken prior to that can bear false alarms.
If you are looking for a convenient and cheap method for diagnosing pregnancy in your dog, then this is the way to go. As the fetus develops inside the womb, the surrounding membranes enlarge and fluid filled sacs are formed. Within three to four weeks into the gestation period, these sacs could be felt easily as they are of a significant within the womb of a dog. These sacs can lose their shape as the fetus outgrow them and then they feel like the texture of fat.
An x-ray scan cannot just tell if the pooch is pregnant but also how many pups can be expected from her. It comes in handy during the final weeks of gestation period as the pups have developed skull and spine structure which are otherwise not visible in the x-ray scan. It can take up to 40 days for fetus to develop this bone density. The vets like to take a few more days to wait and make sure that they have an accurate count for the expected pups.
If you want to determine the pregnancy of the dog early on, they you need to get her ultrasound scan. It is recommended once the pooch is at least one month pregnant. Ultrasound scan cannot just detect the presence of the fetus but also whether it is alive or not.