Gestation is the period when the young are developing in their mother’s uterus. In dogs, gestation normally lasts 9 weeks (63 days). However, puppies may be delivered between 58 – 68 days.
Diagnosis of Pregnancy
A new blood test is available to confirm pregnancy. It can be used from 23 days but more reliable from 30 days. Ultrasound scanning can be carried out from 21 days but is more reliable from 28 days on.
During the first 5 weeks of pregnancy, there are few noticeable changes. After the 5th week, you may notice weight gain, especially with large litters. If only 1 or 2 puppies are present, the mother may gain little weight until shortly before birth. Abdominal enlargement is generally obvious in the last three weeks.
The mammary glands may begin to enlarge as early as the 35th days, but usually development is not obvious until 45 days. Milk may be present as early as 7 – 9 days before delivery, but usually it is not produced until 1 – 2 days before delivery.
During pregnancy, the female dog may show a change in behavior, especially in the last few weeks. As the uterus enlarges with the developing puppies, your pet may become restless, seek seclusion and in the last few days soil the house. She may shred papers, blankets or bedding in an attempt at “nest building” in the last weeks. During the last two weeks, your pet may become irritable and should avoid contact with small children.
Good nutrition is essential for healthy puppies and mothers. During the first four weeks, nutritional needs change little, but feeding high protein supplements is recommended. During the last 5 weeks, your dogs nutritional needs nearly double. Feed increased amounts of food in several small meals each day.
Fresh water should always be available, since fluid needs are greatly increased. The vet may recommend a special diet and / or vitamins. We recommend Hill’s Science Plan for pregnant and nursing bitches.
Moderate exercise is the proper approach. Neither forced rest nor strenuous exercise is a good idea. Short periods of gentle play and short walks are good.
Please Contact Us if you have any questions about your bitches gestation period.