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A dog’s pregnancy lasts anywhere from nine weeks to two to three months. While the dog may not show any signs early on, the dog will act and behave differently than when it is not pregnant. If you suspect that your dog is pregnant, you should take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Symptoms of pregnancy

Pregnancy in a dog can be a difficult time for you and your dog. During this time, it is essential to learn about the symptoms and how to care for your dog. You should make sure your dog has plenty of rest and has a nutritious diet. The pregnant dog will also need extra nutrition to grow the baby. Your vet can advise you on the right diet for your dog’s stage of pregnancy.

One of the most obvious signs of pregnancy in a dog is an increase in body weight. During early stages of pregnancy, your dog will have a weight gain that will last about four to five weeks. Although this weight gain may seem minimal at this point, it can be a sign that your dog is pregnant. In addition to the weight gain, your dog may also display other symptoms. For example, she may have enlarged mammary glands.


Dogs can be pregnant as early as 21 days, although it’s often difficult to discern pregnancy by palpation. Ultrasounds are used to monitor the developing fetus, including determining fetal viability. They are best performed between 25 and 35 days gestation, as ultrasounds prior to this point can lead to false-negative results. An ultrasound also allows clinicians to listen to the fetal heartbeat, which is typically two to three times faster than the dam’s heartbeat. They can also detect placental sounds, which may help differentiate pregnancy from other causes of uterine distention. Ultrasounds can also be used to calculate gestational age.

The best time to perform an ultrasound of a pregnant dog is 21 days after the first mating. This gives the mother enough time to develop her puppies and for the placenta to form. A dog’s pregnancy can last up to 9 weeks, but some clinicians may not be able to detect the puppies at this early stage.


A veterinarian may use an X-ray to determine how long ovulation has taken place in a dog. This diagnostic procedure is not harmful to the dog or its puppies, and its low radiation levels are safe even for pregnant dogs. Your veterinarian will explain the benefits and risks of X-rays to you.

The earliest pregnancy signs in dogs are not apparent on an X-ray. During the early weeks of pregnancy, zygotes are fertilized in the oviducts. This implantation occurs at about day 18 in female dogs and 14 days in queens. By 21 days, small swellings appear along the uterine horns. A veterinarian who is proficient with ultrasounds can diagnose a dog’s pregnancy even before an ovulation date is confirmed by radiographic methods.


Palpation when a dog is pregnant can be difficult, especially when the uterus is enlarged. Large dogs may require two hands to palpate the abdomen. It’s also difficult to determine the viability of a pregnancy through palpation because the gestational sacs become confluent around day 30 and lose their distinction. In addition, some dogs are too large to palpate, while others may carry the pregnancy in a cranial location rather than in the abdomen.

Another way to tell if a dog is pregnant is by ultrasound. Ultrasounds are most accurate when a dog is 25 to 35 days pregnant. An ultrasound can also detect the heart rate of a developing puppy, which is approximately two to three times faster than an adult dog’s heart rate. Pregnancy hormones play a big role in all species, and the most reliable hormone to check for during palpation is relaxin.

Embryo development

While pregnant, dogs can continue with their normal routines, but they should be careful while playing and walking. Avoid rough play and strenuous exercise for at least four weeks. During the first four months, the embryos are developing and take root inside the uterine lining. At the end of week five, they begin to develop organs and will increase in size by about 75 percent. During this time, a dog’s appetite and energy levels may change, though it is not necessary to change the diet of your dog.

After the embryo is formed, it develops a sac called the amnion, which is enclosed by amniotic folds. These folds begin to grow across the dorsum of the embryo. By day twenty, the amnion is crescent-shaped. It is filled with fluid and develops into a chorionic vesicle (a sac filled with yolk). In the early weeks of pregnancy, the amnion has a large volume of fluid, and the mother is likely to nurse her baby for several months.

Morning sickness

Morning sickness is one of the first signs of dog pregnancy, but in dogs it usually doesn’t last very long. Dogs often experience it in the third or fourth week of pregnancy, and it’s caused by hormonal changes that occur during this time. Some dogs may vomit a small amount, lose their appetite, and show signs of fatigue. To help your dog deal with morning sickness, try feeding them small, frequent meals throughout the day. If these symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian.

While morning sickness in dogs is not detrimental to the health of your pet, prolonged vomiting can be harmful. A dog that vomits excessively can lose electrolytes and cause problems with their nervous system. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, but the more severe symptoms may include increased heart rate, arrhythmias, and seizures. While it is possible to manage these symptoms at home with hydration and other home remedies, you should see a veterinarian if your dog is experiencing more than a few days of vomiting or has any of the other symptoms listed below.

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Anamile Guerra is a pet owner and entrepreneur with a passion for the well being of pets and animals. She believes in educating pet owners about natural and healthy alternatives to toxic chemicals in our dog's diets and nutrition. By following a natural lifestyle, we can prevent most common illnesses we see not only in our pet's health, but in our own well being, allowing us all to live long and happy lives.

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