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Pregnancy in a dog is usually about 63 days, although it varies depending on the breed. In shorter breeds, the gestation period may be shorter and the puppies may arrive before 60 days, while in larger breeds it can be longer. Typically puppies arrive around the 58th to 68th day from the time they're conceived. The first sign of pregnancy is that your dog eats less food. Because her hormones are changing, she'll be tired and less active. Unlike humans, there isn't a test to determine if a dog is pregnant, but a vet can confirm a pregnancy simply by touching the dog's abdomen, about 26 to 35 days after breeding. After 45 days, an X-day can confirm the number of puppies to be born.
The Early Stage: The First 20 Days
As the fertilised eggs travel from the ovaries to the uterus, fertilisation occurs in the oviducts about 48 to 72 hours after breeding. After 10 to 11 days the fertilised eggs turn into blastocytes which develop into embryos. The mother dog's (dam's) nipples start to enlarge, developing a darker pink shade after 14 to 15 days. About 20 days following conception, the dog's belly fur starts to thin.
Just as humans, a pregnant dog may experience morning sickness. This starts around day 21 to 28, accompanied with possible vomiting. However, after about a month into the pregnancy, your dog will have an increased appetite and weight gain. By this time, the pregnancy is easily recognised. When you touch the dog's abdomen, it will feel fat and rigid. The puppy embryos will measure about the size of a walnut after about a month of pregnancy. At this point, a vet or breeder can determine the number of puppies in the womb. Although the mother needs more food now, she shouldn't be overfed as extra weight gains can result in complications.
The Last Stage
During the last 20 days, your dog's abdomen will continue to enlarge and grow more rigid as it's now carrying puppy weight. She will grow restless and be less active, wanting to be cuddled more. During these last few weeks you can feel the puppies move by placing your finger on your dog's belly. As she'll be searching for a place to deliver her pups, provide her with a whelping box. Include all her favourite toys, including a bone and food. Whining and pacing are common symptoms that the birth is near. Your dog will also be uncomfortable standing or lying down. It's important to keep your dog as calm as possible, avoiding any stress during the last 2 to 3 weeks before she gives birth.
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