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Maybe you're just curious, or perhaps you have a pregnant dog, and you don't know what to expect.
No matter the reason, it's important to know how long are dogs pregnant and what prenatal care your pooch is going to require.
It's one of those small little “facts” that is uncommon. Although there are millions of dog owners in this country, most still don't know about dog pregnancy length and how our furry friends go through it.
Dogs have a much faster gestation period than humans, but their prenatal care is just as important.
And just like us, the precise time frame also depends on many factors.
But because their gestation is shorter, it's incredibly important to be aware of when your dog becomes pregnant so you can start her prenatal care as soon as possible.
So, how do you tell if your dog is pregnant? You can check out our video guide that shows multiple ways to know.
However, the only way to know for sure is to seek veterinary attention. Your vet can perform an ultrasound to tell if your dog is pregnant and, if so, how far along the pregnancy is.
Don't worry; ultrasounds are not invasive and only take 15-30 minutes. As for the price, Care Credit said they can cost $300-$600.
We have also created a guide that explains how to identify a false pregnancy in dogs.
So… How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?
NextGen Dog, an evidence-based source on dog health, has some great answers on dog pregnancy and advice for dog owners with pregnant dogs.
To quote their article, the quick answer to dog pregnancy length is as follows:
“A dog’s gestation period lasts about 58 to 65 days from the date the breeding occurred.”
Dogs are pregnant for 58 to 65 days, with 63 days or 9 weeks being the average due date.
One week is quite a wide range when the entire term is only nine weeks. That is because there are many factors that affect the length of your dog's gestational period.
Factors Affecting Dog Pregnancy Length
The biggest factor is the size of the litter. Mothers with smaller litters tend to carry the pups a little bit longer. This is because they have more room in the uterus.
Larger litters of puppies will run out of room faster, and that triggers labor more quickly.
Likewise, breed size plays a big part in how long a canine pregnancy will last. Smaller breeds tend to carry longer than larger breed dogs.
The pregnancy history of your dog’s family can also be a great help in determining how long their gestation period will be. Females from the same family typically carry for the same amount of time.
If it is possible to find out how long your dog’s mother and/or grandmother carried, you will likely have a very accurate due date. Just remember, there are exceptions to every rule.
Dog Pregnancy Length: What You Should Know About Canine Pregnancy
Pet parents who bred their dogs intentionally have probably done a lot of research so they understand the canine gestation process and what to expect.
However, if you haven't, and this happened by accident, and the breeding of your dog was unexpected, then start reading as soon as you can!
The Internet is full of information on how long dogs are pregnant and other types of information for pregnant canines.
I'm sure your local library may have some great dog books about general canine pregnancies, too. Don't forget to research breed-specific pregnancy information as well.
The best place to start is by talking with your veterinarian. They'll be able to get you on the right track and will probably recommend some perfect dog books and other applicable resources on dog pregnancy questions.
Your veterinarian can perform an ultrasound to tell you how far along your dog is and accurately estimate a due date.
This procedure is painless and non-invasive, so your dog will be awake the whole time. Your vet will move the probe of the ultrasound machine around your dog’s abdomen to get a clear picture.
Ultrasound will not only tell you when you can expect your dog to give birth but also how many puppies you should expect.
This information will be vital in providing the best prenatal care for your pet and her puppies.
Dog DNA tests can also provide you with some partial information. You can trace your pet's genealogy and find out their pregnancy history, but this information may prove difficult to come by.
The accuracy of those things is also far from top-notch, but I'd say it's worth a try if you don't mind spending the $70-90, which is how much DNA tests cost.
Check out our top 5 choices of the best dog DNA test kit in this article.
Caring for a pregnant dog isn't as easy as it seems, and if not done properly, it can have long-term health effects on the mother and the pups.
How to Deal with a Pregnant Dog
Once you find out more about your dog's ancestry, you'll know better how to care for her.
However, even without that information, your vet should be able to give you a somewhat accurate expected due date, especially if you know when your dog was bred.
But what if the breeding was not planned?
If you don't know when your dog was bred, A good estimate would be to use the middle of her last heat and count ahead 63 days from there.
Dogs that do not carry their pups for at least 58 days usually have stillborn litters or pups that die shortly after birth.
Puppy litters that are born very shortly after the 58-day mark are often considered premature.
Premature puppies are easy to spot because their paws are bright pink, and they have very little fur.
After 58 days, the lungs are mature enough for the pups to breathe on their own, and although they may need a little extra care, the puppies should be fine.
How do you know if a dog is pregnant?
When you suspect your dog is pregnant, but you don’t know for sure, you need to observe her closely for the early warning signs of pregnancy.
You probably won’t notice many changes in the first few weeks, but after that, you should notice your pregnant dog's body beginning to change.
You will also notice her eating and sleeping more than normal. Pet pregnancies should always be confirmed and monitored by your veterinarian.
If you have any concern at all that she may be pregnant, you should treat her as if she is until it is confirmed that she is not.
Schedule a visit to your veterinarian. They will be able to tell you for sure whether your girl is pregnant, and they will help you get her on a healthy prenatal diet, including supplements if she is.
Want to know more about dog pregnancy?
We have written several articles that comprehensively tackle different aspects of canine pregnancy. Check out our recommended articles below!
- 20 Dog Pregnancy Tips for a Successful Birth
- Unwanted Pregnancy in Dogs: Prevention and Termination
- False Pregnancy in Dogs (Phantom Pregnancy): How To Identify, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
- Dog Pregnancy 101: The Guide on Pregnant Dogs
- Dog Pregnancy Stages and What to Expect When Expecting
- 7 Tips on How to Prepare for Your Dog's Pregnancy
- Why Do Dogs Eat Their Puppies