Back to Pet Care Tips




3. Pregnancy


How long does pregnancy in the dog last?

 Pregnancy, also called the gestation period, normally ranges from 57-65 days with an average of 63 days.

 With a planned breeding, the date of mating should be carefully recorded. If there are two matings, make a note of the exact dates and expect birth to occur between 63 and 65 days later. 

Immediately after my female dog has been mated, is there anything I should do?

Make sure that she does not have the opportunity to mate with any other dogs. Remember that estrus will continue for several more days. After a planned mating it is a good idea to allow her to rest quietly for a few hours.

 Should I alter her food?

 It is important that she is in good physical condition before she is mated. Both the male and female dog should be examined by a veterinarian prior to mating.

 After mating food intake should remain the same during the first two-thirds of pregnancy (approximately six weeks after mating). If a well-balanced diet is being fed there is no need to use additional vitamin or mineral supplements. Discuss nutritional supplements and vitamins with your veterinarian before giving them to your dog. Some large breed dogs may have adverse effects if they are given certain supplements.

 What do I do after the sixth week?

 After the sixth week of pregnancy, food intake should be gradually increased and high energy, low fiber foods are recommended. As the fetuses increase in size, abdominal pressure increases and frequent small meals are advised.

 During the last three weeks of pregnancy, food intake can be increased by up to one and a half times the normal level giving small meals more frequently.

If you are unsure about any supplements or medication, please do not hesitate to contact us. Some commonly used drugs should be avoided if your dog is pregnant.

 How can I be certain if my dog is pregnant?

 Early pregnancy detection in dogs can be extremely difficult. Unfortunately, as yet, we have no reliable laboratory test. Trans-abdominal palpation (feeling the abdomen for enlarged uterus) by a veterinarian at about three to four weeks after mating has been the most useful. It has to be said that results depend more upon the relaxation of the female than the experience of the doctor!

 Abdominal ultrasound is the method of choice today. Depending on the equipment, positive diagnosis can be made as early as three weeks. Most scans from 28 days onwards are reliable. Any estimate of the number of puppies should be treated with caution. Ultrasound is not very reliable in determining the number of puppies you can expect. An abdominal radiograph (x-ray) during the last two weeks of pregnancy is the most accurate method for counting fetuses.

 Should I change her routine as pregnancy advances? 

As pregnancy progresses intra-abdominal pressure increases together with food requirements. Therefore the number of meals rather than the quantity per meal has to be increased. Let your pet decide how much physical activity she needs. This depends on the number of puppies and the amount of intra-abdominal pressure she is experiencing. Do not over exercise. Check for any vaginal discharges and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns


This client information sheet is based on material written by Ernest E. Ward Jr., DVM.

  Copyright 2002 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. June 30, 2004.