Dog Gestation Period: What to Expect

Dog Gestation Period

Pregnancy in dogs is also called a dog gestation period. This is the time it takes from conception to delivery of adorable puppies!

Dog gestation periods are an exciting time, but they can also be filled with questions. If you’ve ever wondered what is a normal dog gestation period, how long gestation periods last, or what the common dog pregnancy symptoms are … look no further! This post will take all the guesswork out of the equation by exploring exactly what to expect during a dog gestation period.

What Is A Normal Dog Gestation Period?

The average gestation period in dogs is approximately 63 days. 

Obviously, this timeline can vary by a few days, as gestation won’t always take exactly 63 days. A normal dog gestation period ranges from 57 to 65 days, or around 2 months. Recording when your dog mated, if possible, can help you figure out when you can expect her puppies to arrive. 

Dog Gestation Period Calculators

Another way to figure out how long your dog’s gestation period will be is to use a dog gestation period calculator. These calculators use your dog’s mating date to try and gauge approximately how long your dog will be pregnant and when her due date will be. 

However, most of them simply just take the mating date and calculate the pregnancy date based on the range of average days provided above. So dog gestation period calculators can be helpful for doing some quick math, but generally won’t be much more accurate than calculating the approximate date yourself using the average gestation period figures above. 

Dog Pregnancy Symptoms 

If you’re not sure when or if your dog mated, there are also some common dog pregnancy symptoms you can keep an eye out for. However, these symptoms can take up to 3 weeks to start appearing. 

1. Fatigue And Lack Of Energy

One of the first dog pregnancy symptoms you’re likely to notice is fatigue. In the early stages of pregnancy, your dog will likely get tired more easily. This decline in normal energy is common during dog gestation periods. 

2. Morning Sickness

Just like humans, pregnant dogs can develop morning sickness, or occasional vomiting. This will often be accompanied by changes in appetite. You might find your dog eats more some days, and other days seems disinterested in food. These fluctuations are normal, and correspond with your dog’s fluctuating hormone levels. 

3. Mood And Behavior Changes

Mood and behavioral changes are also common during a dog’s gestation period. Your dog may seek more attention from you, looking for comfort and wanting to spend more time at your side. Or she  may want just the opposite and might seek isolation or even seem depressed or irritable. Again, these changes in affection and irritability are normal and likely the result of hormonal changes. 

4. Physical Changes

Naturally, dog pregnancy will result in some weight gain and a swollen stomach or abdomen. This is one of the more obvious signs of pregnancy in dogs, especially if there’s no other reason for your dog to suddenly be putting on weight. But the swelling of the abdomen occurs late in the dog gestation period, so if you do notice this sign and other symptoms, it’s time to take your dog to the vet, as the pregnancy is well underway. 

5. Nesting Behavior

Pregnant dogs may also engage in nesting behavior. This is another symptom that tends to show up toward the end of pregnancy. You might notice her shredding or digging bedding or other materials to make a nest, or becoming more reclusive and irritable. Pregnant dogs can sometimes become a bit snappy at this stage, so you may want to limit her exposure to guests and children. 

How to Tell For Sure if A Dog Is Pregnant

While the symptoms above are helpful indicators, they may not manifest until later in your dog’s gestation period. So how can you confirm whether your dog is pregnant?

The simplest way is to go see your veterinarian – either your regular vet or a specialized reproductive veterinarian. There are no home pregnancy tests for dogs, but your vet can perform a “canine pregnancy test.” This test measures your dog’s hormone levels from days 21-25 of pregnancy onwards, or by using ultrasound from days 20-22 onwards. From the 30th day onwards, your vet can also perform an exam to find out how many puppies your dog is expecting. Just keep in mind this test isn’t always accurate, so you may find yourself with more puppies than you were initially told!

Tips For Dog Gestation Or Pregnancy And What to Expect

While your dog is going through the changes associated with pregnancy in dogs, you might have to be flexible in how you care for her. Here are a few tips to keep your dog healthy during her gestation period.

1. Feed Plenty of Healthy, Nutritious Food

Above all, you’ll want to feed her a healthy diet rich in protein and healthy fat, as well as vitamins and minerals. While there might be days where she wants to eat less, pregnant dogs overall eat about 1.5 times more than a non-pregnant dogs, so you’ll also want to be prepared to feed her more.  She may also eat smaller amounts of food, but more frequently. Giving her enough food is important, as she’ll need the extra nutrition to support healthy puppies.

RELATED: From heat to birth: a dog pregnancy feeding guide … 

2. Continue to Give Her Light Exercise

You don’t want to put a pregnant dog through intense exercise, but light exercise is helpful to stay healthy. Short, light walks and some gentle play time is plenty of exercise for pregnant dogs. The trick is not letting her become lethargic, but not overstimulating or irritating her either. 

3. Important Protocols During The Last Three Weeks

The last three weeks of your dog’s pregnancy are important for several reasons, and will require a bit of a different approach than the rest of the pregnancy. This is typically when pregnant dogs can become a bit snappy and irritable, so you may not want to subject  her to other dogs or with children. You may even want to have her exercise indoors at this time. 

This is also partly to prevent her from contracting parasites that can affect her or the puppies’ health. Staying indoors the last three weeks will also prevent canine herpes (or fading puppy syndrome), which can sometimes result in stillborn puppies or be fatal to newborn pups. . 

RELATED: Natural dewormers for dogs … 

When Should A Pregnant Dog Go to the Vet?

Visiting your vet throughout your dog’s pregnancy can be very helpful. Your vet can help confirm your dog’s pregnancy, and can also estimate how many puppies you can expect. You should also visit your vet if your pregnant dog becomes ill during her gestation period. 

Bringing your pregnant dog to the vet around the 7-week mark can also help set expectations for labor and make sure your dog is healthy and ready to deliver. Your vet can answer any questions you have about your dog’s labor. If the labor doesn’t go smoothly, you’ll also want to give the vet a call or head to the vet for help with delivery. 

Lastly, it’s also a good idea to bring the mom and her puppies into the vet after they’re born to confirm they’re all in good health.

RELATED: 5 tips for raising a puppy …

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