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How Long Do Dogs Stay Pregnant?

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Dogs Pregnancy

If you are wondering how long dogs stay pregnant, you may be eager to start counting down the days until puppies will be on their way. Knowing how long a dog's gestation period is, is fundamental so that you can better understand how mother dog's body works and when to start looking for signs of impending pregnancy. Being prepared for the big event is really important so that you can recognize early signs of problems and make sure that your vet is just a phone call away if there are any complications. So let's discover more about the length of pregnancy in dogs along with some important info about canine pregnancy you need to know.

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How Long Do Female Dogs Carry Their Puppies?

Generally, a pregnant dog's gestation period is said to be on average about 63 days long, but it's important to recognize that this not a ballpark figure.

In many cases, dog owners start counting down the days starting from when the dog was bred; however, things are not as easy as that. Rather, things can get a tad bit more complicated because dogs do not always ovulate when they are bred.

The correct way is to count from the day of ovulation (the time when the male dog's sperm and the female's egg make contact)., therefore a dog's gestation period may vary and can range anywhere between 58 to 68 days, explains veterinarian Bruce R. Coston. 

These numbers therefore tend to vary quite bit for the simple fact that a female dog may mate several days before ovulating and she may also mate several days after ovulation.

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Signs Pregnant Dog is Nearing Birth

If you are wondering how long dogs stay pregnant, it may be because your are anxiously waiting for the first signs of impending birth. Hormones are luckily on your side, when it comes to determining when your dog is about to give birth.

Simply, keep a thermometer handy and starting from day 55 after breeding, start taking your dog's rectal temperature. You can use a normal human thermometer for the task. Simply lubricate it with some Vaseline and insert the tip into the dog's rectum, leaving it inside until it beeps or at least for a minute. Take the temperature for about 2 to 4 times a day.

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Generally, a dog's normal rectal temperature is between 101-102.5 degrees, but it typically lowers to below 100 degrees (generally below 99) within 24 hours before whelping date, explains Margareth V. Peggy Kustritz, a veterinarian specializing in canine reproduction.

When you notice this temperature drop, start getting ready as puppies will be soon on their way as mother dog may start the whelping process even in the next 4 to 6 hours. How long does a dog take to give birth? Be ready for quite a long day; the whole whelping process can last about 6 to 12 hours and often much more for large litters, with a pup showing up every 30-60 minutes.

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I Think My Pregnant Dog is Delivering too Early

Several dogs are capable of delivering a healthy litter of puppies at 58 days with puppies having a good chance of survival; however, generally speaking, when born under 56 days the puppies tend to show signs of being underdeveloped and their lungs may not be able to work.

Delivering a litter of puppies too early may be a sign that mother dog is stressed, has a health issue or hormonal issue or a serious disease such as brucellosis or canine herpes virus which may cause a pregnant dog's puppies to be delivered preterm and dead.

Generally, it's not very common for pregnant dogs to have early contraction and give birth too early. Signs of a miscarriage in dogs include abnormal bleeding; and in some cases, dog owners may find proof on an expelled fetus or more. If you suspect your dog is showing signs of going into labor early, contact your vet or the nearest emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.

I Think My Pregnant Dog is Overdue

Generally, being almost a week overdue from the average 63 days, is not too uncommon. Dogs are considered seriously late in pregnancy though when they are about 70 days due. At this stage, it's important to see the vet. The vet can check on the liveliness of the puppies and can help induce labor using oxytocin if he/she determines it's a case of uterine inertia, which is the absence of effective contractions of the dog's uterus during labor. For difficult cases, some dogs may require a C-section.

In some cases, dog owners may start getting worried about their pregnant dog being overdue, only to discover later at the vet's office that their dog is not pregnant at all! This is because, female dogs tend to go through what is called pseudopregnancy, better known as false pregnancy, which can take place after going into heat and mimics a real pregnancy. Dogs in false pregnancy may get an enlarged belly, their nipples may enlarge and sometimes they may also start producing milk and even showing signs of nesting and going into labor!

Photo Credits:

Flickr Creative Commons, Renee V Day 56 05.18.10 01, CCYBY.2.0

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