A little bundle of joy is wonderful whether it is of the human or canine variety. New puppies are so cute with their closed eyes, tiny bodies, and slow movements. The proud owners should be aware of how long dogs are pregnant in order to prepare for the new arrivals.
Pregnancy in a dog lasts an average of 63 days, but it can vary depending on the size of the litter. Dogs carrying large litters will often be pregnant for less than nine weeks, while dogs with small litters may be pregnant for longer than nine weeks. The reproductive life of a dog varies depending on the breed, with small dogs going into heat at about four to six months old, while large breeds begin at 12 to 24 months. Most dogs go into heat two times per year and will be able to breed with more than one male dog during the three weeks while in heat.
If a dog is pregnant, it will exhibit some specific signs during the first three weeks. These include demanding and affectionate behavior interspersed with wanting to be left alone. The dog may also be lethargic, have a decreased appetite, and have swollen or enlarged nipples. These symptoms are triggered by hormonal changes due to the pregnancy. In later weeks, the dog will develop an increase in appetite and have weight gain.
Smaller breeds will appear larger when pregnant due to the limited room they have to carry puppies. After a month, a veterinarian can perform an ultrasound or blood test to detect whether the dog is pregnant. An x-ray can be taken after 60 days of pregnancy and this will reveal the size of the litter. The owner will be able to feel the puppies moving during the dog's last week of pregnancy.
Some dogs experience a false pregnancy within six to twelve weeks after their heat cycle. This condition is caused by hormones and symptoms usually last for three to four weeks. It is common for unaltered female dogs to experience this and there is no reason for medical concern.
Knowing how long dogs are pregnant allows the owner to schedule the necessary vet visits and prepare an area in the home for the delivery. The owner and the female dog can bond during the pregnancy and get ready for the new puppies. After the delivery, momma and babies will be able to rest safely and comfortably within their special spot in the house.