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Planning on expanding the household with a group of playful puppies? Or want to find more information to tell if your dog is pregnant. This is an exciting time! Nothing can be more rewarding than bringing life into the world.

Dog pregnancies can be a stressful period if you are not armed with the correct information. If you are feeling overwhelmed or preparing for a new litter to brighten your life, this article will give you the confidence to help your dog through their first of potentially many pregnancies.

How Long Is A Dogs Pregnancy

It is essential to know the length of a dog’s pregnancy when you are considering breeding to help you plan veterinary checkups, any emergencies and whelping (the birth of puppies).

Typically, dogs are pregnant for 63 days (around 9 weeks). This is measured from the day that they ovulate to the day that the puppies are born. After 2 months the puppies will be ready to be born, which in turn means you have to be prepared for the delivery.

What are the Signs of Pregnancy In Dogs

A few of the signs can also be symptoms that your dog is ill. It is crucial if you notice any change in activity level, appetite, or appearance to have them checked over by a vet.

Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Enlarged or Discoloured Nipples

When a female dog is in the early stages of pregnancy, her nipples grow in size, the areolas become more rounded compared to their usual flatness. It’s not uncommon to find that the nipples change colour to a slightly darker red. This is because there is an increased level of blood flow. In the final few stages of the pregnancy, they can occasionally leak milk.

  • Decreased Activity 

If your dog likes a good nap and is not an energetic bunny, it may be difficult to see a change in their levels of activity. Observe if they get tired more easily on their daily walks. However, if your dog is normally a bundle of energy and is usually bouncing off the walls, a sudden decrease in her level of energy should be taken seriously and may indicate that she is pregnant.

  • Unusual Behaviour 

Is your dog clinging to your side and craving more attention than usual? Are they more irritable isolating themselves from you or the family? In some cases, they can seem very depressed when you are giving them affection. Any behaviour changes that you find odd could be another sign that your dog is pregnant.

  • Difference In Appetite

Depending on the dog and the stage of the pregnancy, their appetite can fluctuate. During the early and sometimes mid-stages of pregnancy, she may eat less and even be unhappy with the meals given. It’s uncommon for pregnant dog’s to vomit but it can occur. The fluctuations in their eating habits are because of the hormone changes they are experiencing.

  • Weight Gain

One of the most significant signs that your dog is pregnant is their abdomen growing in size. Try to be careful when handling that area as, by this stage, your dog is well on the way to having puppies. It can be easy to injure the litter and therefore should be left to the professionals. Talking about professionals, if you haven’t taken your dog to the vet by now, you best get in touch with the vet ASAP for a checkup.

  • Nesting Behaviors

During the final few weeks of pregnancy, you may find that your dog is becoming more irritable and isolating herself more. I would advise limiting the amount of time spent with small children. You may notice your dog tearing up fabric and bedding to create a nest for herself.

Visit Your Vet

If you think your dog is pregnant, then a good time to go for a checkup is 2 or 3 weeks after she has mated. Your vet will be able to answer a multitude of questions such as the type of food your dog should have and the changes you should expect.

The veterinarian has a couple of different tests they can perform, such as an ultrasound to see the puppies even at 3 weeks into the pregnancy. Ultrasound is safe; it uses sound waves to create an image of your dog’s womb.

During your visits, the vet may give your dog a blood test to check her hormone levels. Dogs have a higher hormone level when they are pregnant. An X-ray can detect the number of puppies your dog can expect to have, some vets advise against this to avoid exposing the developing puppies to radiation.

Potential Pregnancy Complications

There are a few issues that can arise when your dog is pregnant. Sadly not all pregnancies go to plan, and it is best to keep yourself aware of the complications that may arise.

False Pregnancy

False pregnancy goes by a couple of names, including phantom pregnancy and pseudopregnancy. This is a condition that usually takes effect a month or two after heat is over.

The female dog will believe she is pregnant when, in fact, she is not. It is thought that a hormone imbalance plays an important role, but the exact cause is unknown. In the majority of cases, treatment is unnecessary, and the symptoms should go away. I would advise seeing the vet for a checkup.


Dogs can experience a miscarriage for a variety of medical reasons. If the female dog has lost its pregnancy, plan a visit to the vet as soon as possible, and they will need to be monitored carefully after that.
The most common symptom of a miscarriage you may notice is vaginal bleeding, and in some cases, an expelled fetus can be found. A common cause of fetal death is due to a hormonal imbalance.

Unwanted pregnancy  

Sometimes owners are surprised that their dog is pregnant and don’t feel that it is best to have puppies at that time for whatever reason. If you are found in this position, it is best to catch the signs of pregnancy as early as possible. Get expert advice as soon as you can and see what the vet thinks and action accordingly

Preparing For Puppies

If you want to create an area, the female dog feels comfortable and safe in, the best bet is a whelping box. Whelping boxes are a warm, quickly cleaned location for your dog to have her puppies in.

You can create your own box using cardboard or purchase one. Ideally, it would be big enough to contain the puppies but not too tall around the edges so the new doggy mum can easily get out.

The best placement for a whelping box will be somewhere quiet and away from other dog’s. Feel free to fill the box with towels, blankets or old sheets. Whelping gets messy so don’t use anything in the box you’ll want to use again.

Be sure to contact your vet about any more supplies that will be needed and what is expected of you when the delivery date is here. It would help to have someone who has been through the breeding process before around you.

Enjoy It

As introducing a litter of puppy’s to your home is a fantastic experience and only the start of a busy month or two for you. Try to enjoy it as much as you can because they grow quick and before you know it they will be charging around ready for a new home.

Be sure to contact your vet frequently with any questions you have the start of a puppies life is a crucial stage. Have fun, enjoy it and you’ll get used to the mess and havoc in no time.


I'm a professional dog walker and enthusiast. I have been surrounded by pets my whole life and would love to share the knowledge I have gained. I'm the owner of a golden and white working Cocker Spaniel called Lilly and she accompanies me on almost all my walks.

2 Replies to “How To Tell If A Dog Is Pregnant – Signs To Watch For”

    1. Hello Alex,
      It is a crazy time and goes past very fast! I’m happy that this article can help you feel more prepared when your dog becomes pregnant. Thanks for the comment.

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