Home » What are the Dog Pregnancy Symptoms and Care?

What are the Dog Pregnancy Symptoms and Care?

Updated on April 24, 2023 by Patricia Thompson
Who doesn’t adore cute little puppies?
Big and round, beautifully colored eyes, small button-shaped nose, soft ears, wiggling tiny tail, all put together in such a cute way in a cuddly little body. One can not resist picking up these cuties and snuggling them between our arms.

No matter how much we love them, it’s better to have heads up before these cute little puppies come into your house. Sudden surprise is good, but just like human babies, puppies need a lot of care, and you should be prepared for such responsibility. If you already own a female dog, such surprises are not very rare. Therefore, you should know about dog pregnancy, and let us tell you; it is not similar to that of humans. So it would be best if you also had an idea about the signs of dog pregnancy.

What are the Dog Pregnancy Symptoms and Care

What is pregnancy in dogs?

That’s pretty early, but dogs gain sexual maturity at the age of six to 12 months. However, female dogs get pregnant only during their heat days. On average, dogs get pregnant for about 60 to 65 days. In dogs, the Pregnancy period is shorter than in humans, but like humans, it is divided into three trimesters. Each trimester is just three weeks long. The litter size depends on the dog’s breed. Basically, dogs can have 1 to 12 puppies. Most dogs reproduce around 5 to 6 puppies per pregnancy.

What are the dog pregnancy symptoms?

Change in Mood

Every dog will have a different response to pregnancy hormones. Some dogs like to stay in their space and avoid external contact. They might get irritated and bothered by even slight things. In contrast, some dogs seek comfort and coziness and will always prefer to be around you. Either way, if your dog’s behavior is different than usual, there are chances that she might be pregnant.

Fluctuation in Hunger Patterns

Hormones not only change the mood but the hunger patterns of a pregnant dog. Mostly, dogs lose their will to eat in early pregnancy days and throw up a lot. This phase lasts for the first few weeks. After this, dogs get a huge appetite. She won’t be satisfied with her usual meal portion and will ask you for more treats.

Fall in Energy Levels

Dogs are energetic and active animals. They like to play and go outside for walks. However, a pregnant dog feels low in energy and doesn’t like to play or go out more. She will spend most of the time laying or napping on her bed. Even with your continuous efforts, she won’t show interest in playing with you.

Enlargement and discoloration of Nipples

Changes in her body are one of the signs your dog is pregnant. One of the most common changes is an increase in the size of the nipples. The areolas of nipples which were earlier flat change to rounded in size. Due to increased blood flow in the nipples, the nipples become reddish. In the last few weeks, you can notice milk leaks too.

Enlarged Abdomen and increase in overall weight

Another most prominent sign is an increase in weight, especially in the Abdomen. It can be seen in the last weeks of pregnancy. Weight gain and enlarged Abdomen are the direct dog pregnancy signs if the reason for weight gain isn’t food or some disease. However, enlargement of the Abdomen occurs relatively late weeks into your dog’s pregnancy. If you notice this pregnancy sign, along with others, it’s time to take her to the Vet.

Nesting Behaviors

In the last weeks, the dog understands that the puppies are coming any time soon. That’s why she starts building a nest with any available material she can find in your house. At this time, the dog is overwhelmed with pregnancy and hormones, due to which she doesn’t seek human contact. As the pregnancy period of a dog is much shorter, if you get to know about your dog’s pregnancy, take it to the Vet if the dog seems in agony.

How to know if your dog is pregnant?

The signs, as mentioned earlier, are suitable for estimation, but only a Vet can tell if a dog is pregnant or not. As such, there are no such pregnancy kits for dogs, but diagnostic testing can give a clear picture. Some of these testings are mentioned as follows:
It is a standard practice in which evaluation is carried out by pressing the organs with the hands to check the body. Only a Vet is qualified enough to perform abdominal palpation for pregnancy examination. If the dog is bred intentionally, the Vet can suggest you bring it 27 to 29 days after the breeding to carry palpation. At this time, puppies are in the fluid-filled sacs in the shape of a ball surrounding the fetus. It is the best time to perform palpation after a month as the sack surrounding the puppies loses its form after a month.
Relaxin test:
A Vet can confirm the dog’s pregnancy by checking the presence of the hormone Relaxin in the blood. If the dog is pregnant, only then the Relaxin level will be visible after 26 to 30 days of gestation period.
In puppies, the skeletal system builds up only after 55 to 60 days of the dog’s pregnancy. So it would be beneficial only after that time to confirm the pregnancy and check the number of puppies. However, the results of X-rays are more accurate than any other method.
It confirms the dog’s pregnancy by detecting the heartbeat of the puppies. It can be detected only after 25 to 34 days of gestation period. Puppies’ heartbeat is about 2 to 3 times faster than their doggo mum.

How do you take care of Pregnant dogs?

Once you are assured that your dog is pregnant, it is evident you have to take extra care of them. A Pregnant dog will need all the support to help relieve her distress and produce healthy pups. Listed are some of the steps you must follow;

Maintain Their Physical activity:

We are not saying to give proper Intense training, which is even restricted for a pregnant dog. However, we advise you to continue regular short walks or light play with your dog. The dog might get too lazy to move, but you should push her to move a little. Therefore, you should introduce the minor physical activity, but it shouldn’t be too strenuous enough to harm the dog or puppies. During the last few weeks, outdoor movement should also be avoided and keep the dog away from other dogs. The pregnant dog is in a delicate situation and can easily catch infections or contagious diseases like herpes from other dogs. To avoid that, you can make your dog do indoor exercises these days.

Maintain their Nutrition Levels

Nutrition is essential for dogs whether they are pregnant or not. However, a pregnant doggo mum must meet the proper nutrition limit for her puppies and herself. You don’t need to increase the diet in the initial weeks, and even in the final weeks, the diet shouldn’t be too much as it can promote obesity in the dog. Of course, a dog’s diet will be slightly different in her last pregnancy weeks. You can consult a vet for this. Vets will suggest you gradually increase her diet by increasing the meal count instead of meal proportions.

Take them to Vet

Timely vet visits are mandatory. The Vet won’t only recommend the Proper diet for the dog but will also analyze whether the puppies are okay or not and if the mum Dog is free from any disease or expected infections and other factors. If you have intentionally bred your dog, the Vet will surely do a prenatal checkup before that. The Vet can also carry out a Fecal exam for intestinal parasites check, and if required, they will also give your dog some medications to increase the chances of fertilization. After ensuring that your dog is pregnant, you should follow all the instructions recommended by the Vet. You can discuss what would be better for your puppies, normal birth, or cesarean. As per the Vet suggestion, you can schedule it in advance.

Prepare a Cozy Nesting Area

In the last days of your dog’s pregnancy, choose a particular area for your dog where she can rest and feel comfortable. It will be the nesting area of your dog. It must be warm enough and away from any disruptions or noise.

Check Their Temperature from time to time.

A dog’s temperature drops below 100 degrees Fahrenheit when she is ready to give birth. You should check the dog’s temperature from now and then to know when she is about to give birth.


Dogs are naturally well conscious about handling whole pregnancy and labor too. Though, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help them. Your little help can ease the pregnancy torment the dog suffers. At the time of labor, too, if you would stay there for their support, it will make them feel safe and support them to bear the pain. Make sure the dog gives birth in a comfortable nest under proper supervision. It would help if you got all the guidelines in advance from your dog’s Vet. In case of any abnormality, call the Vet as early as possible.

Posted in: Health Care

About the Author

Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson
Patricia Thompson is a highly skilled clinical psychologist with over five years of expertise in the field. She possesses extensive knowledge and experience in using clinical guidance and providing recommendations for emotional support animals (ESAs) as a form of treatment for mental illness. Patricia's profound understanding of the therapeutic benefits of ESAs enables her to offer valuable insights and practical advice to individuals seeking emotional support. In addition to her clinical practice, Patricia also writes for Fast ESA Letter, sharing her expertise and advocating for the importance of ESAs in mental health care.


  1. Niall Pelyo

    How should a pregnant dog sleep?

    • Tracy Deslaurier

      Indeed, pregnancy is quite an uncomfortable situation for your dog. And, for the better health of your dog and the puppies, you must ensure your dog gets proper sleep. Choose a place in the corner for your pregnant dog that is away from noise or discomfort. This area must be safe for the whelping too. The site should be warm with a relaxing bed or box with soft cushioning. Keep dim lighting so the dog can get and proper sleep easily.

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