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Health & Wellness

How long is a dog’s pregnancy?

Learn how to spot whether or not your favorite furry friend is pregnant and what to expect if they are.

So, you’ve rescued a pregnant dog, or you feel your dog is expecting — either way, you want to better understand their pregnancy symptoms and the overall experience to come. Along with talking to your vet (which is a must!), allow us to give you some insight, too.

We spoke to Dr. Anthony White II, a veterinarian at LIC Vet Group, and Dr. Justin Padgett, an associate veterinarian at Branchville Animal Hospital, to learn more about a dog’s gestation period including signs and symptoms they might be pregnant and how to tell when they’re going into labor. 

How long does a dog’s pregnancy last?

A dog’s gestation period, or the length of time it spends being pregnant, can vary, although it typically lasts about 60-68 days, Dr. White says. 

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Dog pregnancy signs and symptoms

So how exactly is someone supposed to know their dog is pregnant? The signs aren’t as obvious as one might think. 

“There will be some changes but nothing major outside of your dog's normal routine,” Dr. White says.

The first 2-4 weeks may be punctuated with nausea and vomiting; dogs may not eat some days. After about 4-6 weeks have passed, owners will notice an increase in their dog’s appetite due to newly increased energy demand. 

“Usually, a good diet for pregnant dogs includes high-energy and low-fiber meals. Diets also high in omega 3’s are great as well,” Dr. White suggests. Although your vet will know what is best for your pet.

By day 40, your dog will have developed an enlarged belly. Mammary tissue will begin to thicken and enlarge; mothers will begin to lactate. 

Signs a dog is about to go into labor

Around weeks 8-9 dogs will begin to nest or “welp.” Dr. White says that two signs that a mother is about to deliver include excessive vulva licking and a decreased body temperature. 

The first stage of labor is where cervical dilation occurs. Onset is difficult to determine precisely, but you can generally tell your dog is in this stage if she’s restless, panting and may not want to eat. This stage should last about 12 hours. 

“If the dog does not enter stage two within 12 hours with obvious contractions, intervention is recommended,” Dr. Pagett says. 

Stage two of labor is when you’ll begin to notice obvious contractions, Dr. Pagett adds, with stage three characterized by passage of the placenta.

While a dog’s pregnancy can be a hectic time, knowing these signs and symptoms is a great way to ensure you can be there for your furry friend as they are on their journey to motherhood. 

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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