Who doesn’t like puppies? The fluffy little creatures excite everyone including young and old.
So, if you are waiting for your bitch to whelp, the wait may seem never-ending. Luckily, the gestation period in dogs is way shorter than that of humans. But exactly how long is a dog pregnant?
You may have a straight answer to this question. But, if your pet is expecting for the first time, you got to understand the reproductive cycle in dogs.
Reproductive Cycle in Dogs
To learn “how long it takes a dog to give birth after mating,” you first need to understand the reproductive cycle of the dogs.
In common, a female dog gets into heat after every six months; the duration varies from breed to breed to and dog to dog.
The heat cycle which continues for up to 21 days, is further divided into four different stages. As a breeder, these steps may help you to determine the perfect time to breed your dog.
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The Stages of the Dog’s Reproductive Cycle are:
The first stage of the female dogs’ reproductive cycle is Proestrus. The duration is about nine days. During this juncture, female dog attracts males. The signs of proestrus are:
- Swelling of the vulva (female genital area)
- Bloody discharge
Estrus is the second stage of the reproductive cycle. This is the mating period when the female dog is receptive to the male. This stage may stretch anywhere from three to eleven days.
Many breeders take blood tests conducted during these two stages to make sure they breed the dog on right time.
The signs of Estrus are:
- A soft and enlarged genital area (vulva)
- Discharge lightens in color, and its occurrence reduces to half
Diestrus is the third, but actually the final stage of the process which lasts for about 14 days. The vulva comes to natural shape, and the discharge grows redder and decreases significantly.
The bitch never allows mating in this stage. When all signs of swelling are gone, and discharge stops completely, the heating process is now completed.
The time frame between the two heat cycles of a female dog is usually six months, and it is called anestrus.
Understanding and keeping track of heat cycle and breeding period helps breeders in calculating the conception dates. It also makes pregnancy tests easy for veterinarians.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Is Pregnant
We humans have many ways to determine whether or not a woman is pregnant. But for Dogs, there is no such testing system which can instantly determine whether the bitch has conceived.
You should visit your vet to figure out your dog’s pregnancy. You would be required to give correct information of when your dog was bred or what according to you is the estimated time frame. This information is needed because all of the pregnancy testing methods for dogs are time sensitive.
These four methods veterinarians use to determine pregnancy in dogs
- Hormone tests
Veterinarians test for the hormone relaxin (A peptide hormone of the insulin superfamily) which only releases from placental tissue during pregnancy. For the accuracy of this test, a bitch should be at least 30 days into her gestation.
Palpation is a method of feeling with the fingers or hands during a physical examination of fetus development. This is the easiest and cheapest way to determine pregnancy in dogs.
Once pregnancy has been confirmed in dogs, breeders find x-ray the most convenient way to correctly determine the number of pups to expect. This test is taken in the later part of the productive cycle because the fetal skull and spine are not visible on the x-ray before 45 days. If you wait for the 55th day, the veterinarian can give you an exact count of the number of puppies.
Ultrasound technique can be used in the beginning to determine the pregnancy. It also allows vets to determine if the fetus is alive. Best time for an Ultrasound checkup is between 25 to 35 days of gestation.
Gestation Period- How Long are Dogs Pregnant?
The straight answer to this question is from 58 – 68 days from conception. But, it is hard to determine conception, and you would need help from your veterinarian. The act of mating in dogs does not determine gestation alone because the sperm can stay for several days inside the bitch and eggs have the tendency to remain fertile for at least two days. Considering these problems, prediction of the length of pregnancy without the assistance of a veterinarian becomes difficult.
Hormone measurement makes it easier to determine the exact time from for gestations. Breeders also use vaginal smears and blood test to observe reproductive hormones during the process. This enables them to figure out the length of pregnancy as well as the potential due date.
Gestation period as per hormone measurements:
- 58-72 days from the Proestrus
- 56-58 days from the day of diestrus
- 64-66 days from the initial rise in progesterone
Dog Pregnancy & Signs of Labor in Dogs
Keep a close eye on your dog during the last week of her pregnancy. She would leave food 24 hours before labor and will become restless. She would pant; have a swollen vulva, nesting, vomiting and a clear vaginal discharge.
Now the bitch begins whelping. Dogs give birth to puppy in each delivery after every 1 to 2 hours. It takes them up to 24 hours to complete the delivery.
If your dog’s labor sustain more than 24 hours or duration between the births of two puppies is more than two hours, you should concern to your veterinarian.