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Are you in the process of breeding your dog, or do you already have a pregnant dog at home?
Whatever may be the case, you’ll need all information about the canine gestation period and what to expect. A week-by-week dog pregnancy calendar is an essential tool that will help you stay informed of what is happening in all stages of your dog’s pregnancy.
While having a new litter is super exciting, it’s completely natural to feel a bit anxious about caring for a pregnant dog! Luckily, dogs are very self-sufficient and know how to handle pregnancy and give birth on their own. However, you should know what to expect and be prepared to help in case of an emergency.
The average length of canine pregnancy is 63 days, but depending on the breed, dogs can be pregnant from 58 to 68 days. Compared to people, dogs are pregnant for a very short time, so you need to know in advance what to expect to support a healthy pregnancy.
QUICK TIP: Start preparing early for your newborn puppies. They most definitely can come earlier than expected as was the case with 3 out of 4 of Raven’s litters (the 4th litter was 1 day late). Check out our whelping checklist for supplies you might need for whelping a litter of pups.
Below, you will find a comprehensive guide through all nine weeks of canine pregnancy, from the moment your dog conceives to the actual delivery.
A Week-By-Week Dog Pregnancy Calendar
Whether you are trying to get your dog pregnant or you already have a pregnant dog at home, congratulations! Caring about a pregnant dog and raising the puppies are the most exciting things you are going to experience as a pet owner. With the help of a canine gestation calendar, you’ll be able to track your dog’s pregnancy week by week and be prepared for a due date.
Within the first seven days, after the mating has taken place, ovulation and fertilization happen. During this process, the fertilized eggs will travel down from the uterus to get implanted into the uterine wall. Knowing when your dog is ovulating can help you create an accurate canine pregnancy calendar and predict your dog’s due date.
Bear in mind, that ovulation is necessary for successful breeding, but it can be hard to determine whether your dog is ovulating or not. However, you can track your dog’s heat cycle to confirm ovulation.
Most dogs don’t show any signs they are pregnant this early on, but pregnancy will create hormonal changes within your dog’s body. While you won’t notice any physical change, some dogs may experience morning sickness. However, this is fairly rare, and most dogs don’t behave or appear any differently.
At this stage, you should continue to feed the best dog food and exercise, and play with your dog the same as before she became pregnant. Furthermore, there is no need to include any nutritional supplements at this point, unless your vet says otherwise.
During the second week of your dog’s pregnancy, the developing embryos slowly start to grow. At this point, the embryos are still very small and don’t need many calories for normal growth and development. Therefore, you can continue feeding your dog the same as before and don’t have to change her diet in any way.
From this point on, you should measure your dog regularly and keep a close eye on her weight. Your dog’s weight should remain the same or increase by no more than 10 percent until the end of the fifth week of pregnancy. However, if your dog starts to lose weight, the puppies may be in danger, so call your vet right away and take your dog for a checkup.
These are still the early days of the pregnancy, so you can continue exercising and playing with your dog as you did before. Furthermore, you don’t have to make any changes to your dog’s grooming and bathing routine just yet. There is also no need to add any nutritional supplements at this point if none were prescribed by your vet.
During the third week of your dog’s pregnancy, the embryos will start to take root inside the lining of the uterus. Inside this protective membrane, they will receive all the nutrients necessary for proper growth and development. At this stage, the puppies are less than one centimeter long, so you won’t notice any significant change in your dog’s overall appearance.
You should continue to feed and exercise your dog as before, and you still don’t have to change any aspects of your dog’s regular routine. However, some dogs start to have a bigger appetite around this time, so monitor your dog for an increase.
If your dog seems more ravenous than before, you can increase her portion sizes a bit, to satisfy the needs of the growing puppies. Note, that it’s too early to make any major changes in your dog’s diet at this point. So, if your dog seems hungrier than usual, a slight increase in food won’t hurt, but don’t exaggerate.
The fourth week of the dog gestation calendar is the time when things really start to happen! At this time, an experienced breeder or a vet will be able to confirm the pregnancy by gently palpating your dog’s abdomen. Please leave this up to experts as you could injure your unborn puppies if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Furthermore, your vet will also be able to do an ultrasound, so you can get a rough idea of how many puppies your dog will have.
Therefore, you should take your dog to the vet by the middle of the fourth week, even if she looks completely healthy. Besides checking the mom and telling you what to expect in terms of litter size, your vet will also be able to spot any developmental deformities in the puppies.
By the end of the fourth week, the puppies will grow to around one and a half centimeters long. Their faces will start to take shape, and they will also start to develop eyes and a spine. And since the fourth week is one of the most formative stages of the pregnancy, the puppies are at the highest risk of sustaining developmental abnormalities.
At this stage of your dog’s pregnancy, you should start to limit rough play and strenuous activities that can put puppies at risk. While you shouldn’t stop exercising your dog altogether, you will have to be extra careful. So instead of taking your dog for a morning run, opt for a long walk and avoid high-intensity exercises.
Now is also the time to talk with the vet about your dog’s changing dietary needs. Your vet may suggest supplements that will support your dog’s delicate state and recommend different foods.
By the fifth week, embryogenesis—the first stage of gestation—ends and the second one begins. At this time, puppies start to form organs and gain weight quickly, and are from now on called fetuses. The good news is that, from this point on, the puppies are less prone to sustaining any developmental issues.
During this week, puppies start to develop individual toes and their claws and whiskers also start to grow. They will also develop their male and female organs, so your vet will be able to tell you the genders of the puppies with an ultrasound.
At this stage of the pregnancy, the puppies will start to put on weight more quickly, so your dog will start to gain weight considerably as well. Consequently, you will need to start feeding your dog more and adjust her diet accordingly. Instead of two main meals, start feeding several smaller meals to your dog.
Depending on your dog’s current diet, now might be the time to change her food to one specially formulated for pregnant dogs. If you have any doubts or questions regarding your dog’s food, consult your vet. Your vet will be able to tell you how much food she needs at this stage of pregnancy and might even recommend the best food for pregnant dogs.
During the sixth week of your dog’s pregnancy, the growth and development of the puppies start to speed up. At this point, the puppies will get their distinctive features and their bones and skeleton start to become solid.
This is the time when your dog’s belly will become larger and her pregnancy will become apparent to everyone. If you haven’t changed her diet till this stage, you will have to do it now. Start feeding your dog with high-quality dog food formulated for pregnant dogs, to avoid nutrition and calorie deficiency.
Some dogs have a decreased appetite during this stage, due to the discomfort caused by the pregnancy. However, your dog will need a lot of calories from the food to support the still-growing puppies. If your dog experiences a decrease in appetite, start feeding several smaller meals or leave food and encourage free feeding.
At this time, you should also consult your vet and see if your dog’s diet should be supplemented in any way.
Seven weeks into the pregnancy, the puppies will start to develop hair and their bones will solidify even more. At this point, your dog may start to shed hair from her belly as she is getting ready for the big day. If this happens, don’t be alarmed—this is normal behavior for dogs as they prepare to give birth.
The seventh week of a dog pregnancy calendar should be marked as the time you start preparing for the birth of your new puppies. This is the best time to set a whelping area for your dog! Choose a quiet place away from foot traffic, where your dog will feel safe and comfortable bringing her new puppies into the world.
Keep in mind, that your dog will be inside her nursery a few weeks after she gives birth, so choose a room you won’t have to use anytime soon. The designated birthing area must be warm and easy to clean. If you don’t plan on breeding your dog often, you can use a simple cardboard box and blankets as a whelping box.
By the eighth week, the puppies’ skeletons should be formed completely. At this time, your vet can do an x-ray to confirm the exact size of the litter. However, this procedure may be too invasive and it’s really up to you and your vet to decide whether it’s necessary or not.
From this point on, your dog can go into labor at any time, so make sure that everything is prepared. Now is your time to make any final adjustments to the whelping area and to see if you have everything you need.
By the end of the eighth week, your dog will begin lactating, which is a clear sign that she’ll go into labor soon. Most dogs start lactating a week before labor, thus giving you a good guess of when the puppies will be born.
To make your dog more comfortable during whelping, you may consider trimming the hair around her nipples and rear quarters. This will keep the mess at a minimum and make the birthing and nursing process a lot easier for your dog.
At this point, your dog might start whelping at any time, so be ready to welcome the new puppies. Your dog will start nesting in her whelping box and might become restless and anxious as she prepares for birth.
You can start measuring your dog’s temperature if she allows it, since a drop of 1.8°F means that the labor will start soon. However, don’t do this if it will stress your dog out or make her uncomfortable in any way.
And once your dog goes into labor, try not to show any signs of stress and just be there to provide comfort and support. Remember, most dogs know what to do and can manage everything on their own. To put your mind at ease, you can notify your vet that your dog started whelping and have him on standby in case your dog needs any help.
FAQs About Canine Gestation Calendar
When Should A Dog Start Showing If Pregnant?
Most dogs will have a noticeably larger belly approximately 40 days into the pregnancy. At this point, it will become clear to everyone that the dog is pregnant. From this point onward, a dog’s belly will continue to grow daily until the time of whelping.
We didn’t start seeing obvious pregnancy signs with Raven’s first litter until the final week before delivery.
How Do You Calculate A Dog’s Due Date?
The average due date of a dog’s pregnancy is 63 days after mating, but this can vary by several days. In most cases, a dog pregnancy lasts between eight to nine weeks. If you know when your dog mated, you can easily calculate her due date and use a dog pregnancy tracker to mark all stages of pregnancy.
Can A Dog Be Pregnant For Three Months?
A healthy pregnancy in dogs ranges from 58 to 68 days with an average of 63 days. So if everything is as it should be, your dog will give birth to puppies within the first week of the third month. If you want to know your dog’s expected due date, you should record the exact day of the mating and get ready to welcome the new litter.
How Long Is A Dog’s Pregnancy?
A dog’s gestation period, on average, lasts for 63 days and is measured from the day the dog ovulates till the day she gives birth. However, depending on the breed, a dog’s pregnancy can last from 58 to 68 days. It’s completely normal for some dogs to give birth a few days earlier than the average 63 days and for others to be a few days late.
Can A Dog Give Birth At 54 Days?
Dogs can whelp 54 days into the pregnancy, but this is considered an early delivery. Dogs who carry too many puppies for their size go into early labor, but unfortunately, these puppies rarely survive. On day 54, puppies still don’t have a sucking instinct and rarely survive without adequate veterinary care.
If you suspect that your dog is showing signs of going into labor earlier than the expected due date, call your vet for advice. You should make all the necessary preparations for an early delivery to be on the safe side. And if your dog starts to give birth early or shows signs of distress during delivery, call your vet right away.
Whether your dog is already pregnant or you are planning to breed her, the dog gestation calendar can help you estimate your dog’s due date. A healthy canine pregnancy can last from 58 to 68 days, but the average delivery date is 63 days after mating. The most important stages of a dog’s pregnancy are:
- In the fourth week – a vet will be able to confirm the pregnancy with an ultrasound
- In the seventh week – start preparing a whelping box for your dog
- In the ninth week – your dog can go into labor at any time
Knowing what happens through all stages of canine pregnancy will help you understand the needs of a pregnant dog and her growing puppies. And with the help of a dog pregnancy tracker, you’ll know exactly what to expect when your dog is expecting!
Have you ever had a pregnant dog?
Did you keep a dog pregnancy calendar to help track your dog’s pregnancy milestones?
Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
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