Canine pregnancy stages

Updated April 17, 2017

Gestation time for a bitch is usually about 2 months, or around 60 to 64 days. It's useful to keep a record or calendar of the dog's pregnancy so that her health can be monitored and the birth date predicted. Doing this helps to avoid complications during the birth if the bitch has remained healthy during her pregnancy and also prevents the dog owner from being surprised when labour begins.

Stage 1

For best prediction results, make a note of when the bitch was mated. At first, there are few physical signs of pregnancy, but there could be a change in behaviour. In the very early stages of pregnancy, there may be an increase in appetite, and the dog will need more food; however, this may instead be accompanied by morning sickness or nausea, which could result in loss of appetite. Monitor your canine and take her to the vet if appetite loss or sickness is severe or continues, as both could lead to dehydration.

Stage 2

As the canine pregnancy progresses, continue to monitor her eating habits and increase the amount of food given to ensure she gets all the nutrients she needs. Her nipples will begin to darken and enlarge as they prepare for milk production and feeding, and the fur on her belly may become thinner. At 1 month, the unborn puppies will be roughly the size of a walnut, depending on their breed, and a vet may determine how many pups are present. The abdomen will grow, and the dog will start looking pregnant. The dog may also start searching for a place to give birth. Many bitches like to choose the place they'll give birth.

Stage 3

As the canine approaches time to give birth, milk will be in her nipples, and she may start hiding in enclosed places around the house as she searches for somewhere to give birth away from noise and distraction. If a note was made of her mating day, you may predict when she'll give birth relatively easily, but you'll be more accurate if you take her temperature. Normal temperature in a dog is 38.6 degrees Celsius 12 to 24 hours before labour begins. Her temperature will rise, then fall dramatically to below 36.9 degrees C. When the bitch's temperature decreases, labour should start within 24 hours.

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About the Author

Deborah Jones started her freelance writing career in 1990. Her work has appeared in The Writer's Forum, "Reader's Digest" and numerous D.C. Thomson magazines. Jones has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and a postgraduate certificate in education, both from the University of Derby.