Let’s break the signs of dog pregnancy into stages.
Early Signs of Dog Pregnancy
– Decreased appetite is usually one of the earliest signs that your bitch might be pregnant. Not all females go through this doggie version of “morning sickness”,
but a small percentage will eat less during the first few weeks of gestation, usually making up for it later in the pregnancy.
– A sudden decrease in activity can indicate that your bitch is pregnant. Just like some women, canines may also experience feelings of exhaustion as their hormone levels change to support embryo production.
– Nipple growth is a good indicator that your bitch’s body is going through pregnancy changes. The nipples of an unbred female are usually quite small, and the area immediately beneath them will feel flat. However, once a pregnancy is in progress, breast material will develop beneath the nipples, which will also increase slightly in preparation for eventual milk production.
– Behavioral changes may also be noticed, with either an increase in affectionate behavior or an expressed desire to be left alone.
As the pregnancy progresses, you will notice further changes.
– An increase in appetite is usually noted about three to four weeks into the pregnancy and is especially noticeable if your female slacked off her food after her heat cycle ended.
– Weight gain should be noticeable by one month into the pregnancy. The bitch’s abdomen will thicken, and gentle examination of the belly will reveal a firm, rather than fat feeling to the area.
Late Term Signs
The signs of dog pregnancy will increase dramatically in the last weeks of gestation.
– A definite increase in abdomen size will be hard to miss if your bitch is carrying the average size litter for her breed. However, if there are only one or two pups, the abdomen may seem only slightly increased but still be firmer than her pre-pregnancy condition. A lot depends on the size/breed of the dog involved. Larger dogs have more room to carry pups, and if the litter is small, they won’t show as much. Smaller breeds usually show more since they don’t have as large an area to house the pups, and some small breeds’ abdomens will literally drag the ground near the end of the pregnancy.
– Puppy movement can be felt and seen during the last weeks of pregnancy, with a definite increase in movement a few days before delivery as the pups get into position for birth.
– Milk production begins in earnest and colostrum, the first milk, can be gently expressed from the nipples, sometimes leaking a bit on its own as the time for delivery draws near.
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