Detect pregnancy in the bitch: What is the signs?
It is not so easy to recognize pregnancy in the bitch. Visible signs are not noticeable until about a month after fertilization. However, if you know the mating date, you can calculate how far along your bitch should be and have a possible pregnancy checked by a vet. You can find out everything about signs, progression, and duration here.
Only in the last third of the pregnancy of a bitch is it no longer to be overlooked from the outside that puppies are on the way. Then the little ones have a growth spurt, and the dog’s belly becomes round as a ball. If you want to know beforehand if your lady dog is expecting offspring, your vet can help you.
How long does pregnancy last in a bitch?
Basically, bitches can only become pregnant during the second phase of their heat because ovulation only occurs during this time. The duration of pregnancy usually varies between 61 and 65 days.
However, the period may be shortened if the bitch was inseminated after ovulation. In this case, the birth can occur even after 54 days.
On the other hand, if the bitch is mated before ovulation, the duration of pregnancy may be prolonged. This is because the male dog’s sperm can live in the bitch’s fallopian tube for at least six days after mating and wait there for ovulation. In this case, it can take up to 72 days after the mating date until the puppies see the light of day.
Detect pregnancy in the early stages: Tests at the vet
No earlier than 21 days after conception, your veterinarian can detect pregnancy in your bitch by performing a blood test. Sometimes this “pregnancy test” is not reliable until 25 to 28 days.
A pregnant bitch produces the hormone relaxin, which can be detected in the blood – if the relaxin level is elevated, it is a sure sign of pregnancy and that the fetuses are alive. This blood test can be used to distinguish accurate pregnancy from false pregnancy.
A good month after the mating date, you can also have an ultrasound examination at the veterinarian. Theoretically, an ultrasound can be done as early as day 18 of pregnancy, but the later date provides more reliable results.
In this way, the doctor can already guess how big the litter will be, whether all the puppies are alive and whether there are any complications with the pregnancy. However, the number of babies cannot be determined with complete certainty. By palpation, the doctor can still additionally check his guess. Nevertheless, there may be surprises at birth because one boy was overlooked.
When does the belly grow? Visible signs of pregnancy
It is not possible to tell from the outside whether a bitch is pregnant in the early days. This changes from the 30th day of gestation. Then the first visible signs of canine pregnancy appear. These are as follows:
A dense, translucent to milky discharge from the vagina becomes noticeable around 30 days after conception. Note: If the release smells very unpleasant, it is better to have it checked by a veterinarian, as this indicates a complication.
In the last third of pregnancy, i.e., from the 40th day, your bitch will noticeably change in appearance: the teats will emerge and vary in color. The mammary gland thickens overall.
From the 40th day, the dog’s belly also becomes rounder.
Your pregnant mother dog will also have an increased appetite and should also be given exceptional food. Reason: pregnant bitches have an increased nutritional requirement.
With a stethoscope, the vet can also hear the puppy’s heartbeat – at 200 to 240 beats per minute, it is much faster than the mother dog’s heartbeat. At this stage, you should already prepare a cozy, warm whelping box for your bitch; then, she will have a quiet and comfortable retreat for the birth.
Signs of the upcoming birth
Already in the last third of pregnancy, your bitch changes. As the due date approaches, the signs will accumulate that it won’t be long until the litter. These are sometimes:
Ten to six days before the birth, the bitch’s body temperature drops to 37 to 38 degrees Celsius, and shortly before the delivery, even to 36.5 degrees, before it rises again at birth. Tip: If the birth date is approaching, you should regularly take your bitch’s temperature.
The mother dog shows nesting behavior.
The pregnant bitch appears restless.
The bitch is licking her vulva.
The animal no longer has as great an appetite.
The pelvic bones become more visible. Reason: The pelvic ligaments are lowering. The puppies are thus brought into birth position.
You can recognize the contractions by a greenish vaginal discharge and abdominal clenching.
Note: Keep an eye on your bitch from the 54th day of pregnancy. The veterinarian’s telephone number should always be handy so that you can quickly get help in case of an emergency.
Pregnant or seemingly pregnant? That is the question here!
Good to know, by the way: Just because a bitch shows signs of pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean she’s expecting puppies. The reason: Sometimes hormones make her think she is pregnant. In this case, one speaks of a false pregnancy. You can read more about this topic in our guidebook: “Recognizing false pregnancy in dogs: Tips.”