If you have had a female dog in heat, you may be waiting for signs of pregnancy and a potential litter of puppies. Or you may be wondering if your dog is pregnant after not keeping her confined while in season. Whether a litter is planned or a surprise, knowing if your dog is pregnant isn't always as easy as it is for humans. However, there are signs you can look for before taking her to the veterinarian for testing.
Much like in humans, some dogs suffer from morning sickness. You may see your dog ignoring her breakfast and vomiting throughout her morning or other times during the day. Morning sickness in dogs typically only lasts a few weeks and is usually early in the pregnancy. If your dog is pregnant and is showing less interest in her food, try not to force her to eat. You can tempt her senses with rice and boiled chicken or boiled beef cubes, but morning sickness should only last a day or two before she is ready to eat again.
Your pregnant dog may also be showing signs of decreased energy. Your normally active female dog may want to rest more as her hormone levels change and her body actively supports the growth of a litter of puppies. Just a couple of weeks into her pregnancy you may see her drastically slow down. Some pregnant dogs will find an increase in energy much like we see in pregnant women as her pregnancy nears an end.
Your dog's body will go through some major changes. As her body prepares to nurse a litter of puppies, you will start to see her abdomen change as she develops enlarged mammary glands and nipples in preparation for nursing. As well as enlarged mammary glands, you may notice a change in color on her nipples. This area may be tender to the touch as her body changes. About two weeks or so after breeding you may be able to feel her abdomen for fetal development.
Behavior changes may become more obvious as your pregnant dog develops and her litter begins to grow. She may become grumpy and not enjoy the feeling of her bodily and hormonal changes during pregnancy. She may become maternal with you, other family members, or with other pets in your household. She may become clingy, more gentle, or even sweet and extra tender. As her hormones change, her behavior will too.
Providing Good Care
If you see any of these signs in your dog, be sure to get her to a veterinarian as soon as possible for a wellness exam. If your dog is pregnant, she will not need to be under veterinary care constantly, but you will want your veterinarian to know in case any problems arise during the pregnancy, delivery, or after the puppies are born. Your dog will handle most of her pregnancy by herself. You and your veterinarian can assist by making sure she is well cared for, loved, provided with a healthy lean protein and fat balanced diet, moderate exercise, a comfortable place to sleep and rest, and a safe place for her puppies once they are born.