The Pregnant Dog Countdown to Birth

The Pregnant Dog Countdown to Birth

The Pregnant Dog Pregnancy and Birth
Have a look at the video at the bottom of this page showing my puppies at 3 weeks of age and look at their coats and the mother’s health and her coat. That was all down to feeding her the right food and of course the nourishing multivitamins in the additives I put in her food. It makes all the difference.

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Jet and Fizz the sire and dam of my recent puppies
Jet and Fizz the sire and dam of my recent puppies

Decision Time:
If you have decided to breed your dog. Please make sure both temperament and health are excellent in both dogs.

These are the two I chose. I own both and they are working gundogs.

Remember both parents’ traits will come out in the pups. Genetics plays as important a role as socialisation “Nature and Nurture”

If you breed just because you have a dog that could lead to a catastrophe if those two vital requirements are not taken into consideration.

Will you be able to sell on all of the pups? Do you have people that want a puppy even before you breed?

You cannot keep all of them, in fact, it is a very bad idea to keep more than one pup from any litter or sell two to a prospective buyer.  

I wrote this article which is first on Google about the problems keeping two pups can cause (1) Rearing Sibling Puppies. See bottom of this article page.

If you do not have both the male and the female dog then you need to find a suitable mate. If it is a Pedigree you can contact the breed secretary for that particular breed through the Kennel Club.

They are normally aware of who is looking to breed at that time. They could suggest a stud, or put you in touch with a breeder that is looking for a stud. Remember to worm your dog before mating and have their her health checked.

Fizz a day before giving birth.
Fizz a day before giving birth and feeling it..

Pregnancy Time Frame:
Once you have carefully chosen the stud or the dam then mating can take place.

There is only a short window of opportunity when your dog can fall pregnant.

See my article which is also number 1 on Google (2) Dogs Season or Heat. This will explain what to look out for and all the time frames.

Once mating takes place and is successful, then the gestation period normally lasts between 58-68 days. 

The average is 63. We have just had a litter of seven healthy puppies born on day 60 of pregnancy. All are thriving with no health and birth problems

This was the first litter of puppies we have ever bred, despite having owned and worked with dogs for over 45 years.  I decided to mate two of my dogs because of their behaviour and pedigree. Both were fantastic with people and other dogs and were a credit to the breed. It was an eye-opener for me and allowed me to write this article from a position of hands-on experience. 

Things You Must Know and Do When Your Bitch is Pregnant

Week (1)Days 0 – 7

In the first week do everything as normal, if the eggs have been fertilised then this will create embryos that stay high up in the uterus at this time. You can bathe, groom and walk her as usual. I started her on (3) Nourish + Multivitamins and Coat Supplement many years ago as I do with all my dogs. This will really help her and her pups now, ashe will need all the multivitamins and nourishment she can get during pregnancy

Week (2)-Days 7 – 14

 The eggs will have moved down to the horns of the Uterine. Between now and 35 days you can exercise her normally and groom her. A well-exercised fit dog will have far more chance of a successful pregnancy than a one that is unfit or overweight.

Week (3)-Days 14 – 21

This is when the embryos embed themselves in the uterine wall and things really start to happen. The nutrients and life support system for the new puppies are created, which protect the growing pups during their time in the womb. During weeks three and four, your dog may be nauseous and go off her food. This is normal so don’t worry.

Week (4)-Days 21 – 28

This is the most formative part of your dog’s pregnancy You can have an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy. 

People suggest blood tests. However, my vet said that the people who offered that service seemed to have stopped. Perhaps that was only in my area?

Keep up the exercise, but not too strenuous. Fairly gentle rather than flat out running. This is the time when the pups are vulnerable to damage or any developmental defects. The spine and faces start to take shape.

Puppies sleeping not long after birth in the Whelping box
Puppies sleeping not long after birth in the Whelping box

Week (5)-Days 28 – 35

After day 32 the puppies are less susceptible to birth defects. This is the foetal stage they are no longer embryos they are foetuses.

Toes, claws and whiskers start to appear. The pups sex is determined in this week, the pace starts to quicken. 

You can have X-rays done in this week, as the spines will show up.

Though X-rays are not 100% accurate as one pup could be shrouding the spine of another. However, you can still get a very good idea of how many pups are in there.

Week (6)- Days 35 – 42

The foetuses can almost double in weight. Pigment develops as the puppies get larger. Eyes have formed but are closed and will stay closed until around 10 days after birthing.

The 6th week is also the time to change from adult food to puppy food, as the dog is in the last third of pregnancy. Gradually substitute the puppy food from her adult food over a period of about a week, until she is only eating the vitamin-enriched puppy food. I also fed her puppy porridge at this time to give her and her blossoming pups the best start. The puppies will also get the Porridge when the weaning process starts at about 3.5 weeks (4) Puppy Porridge

Puppy  Porridge and Puppy food is rich in important nutrients and provides more energy, protein and minerals than adult food. Change the frequency to 4 meals a day rather than one or two and increase the amount of food by about 50%. She needs this increased intake for the growing foetuses. 

There could be a clear fluid discharged from the vulva at this time. This is normal. Your bitch will have a conspicuously large abdomen and it will grow on a daily basis,  her nipples will become bigger and darker.

Fizz with pups at one day old looking comfortable and healthy despite giving birth to 7 puppies just one day earlier
Fizz with pups one day old looking comfortable and better than she day at the end of her pregnancy

Week (7)- Days 42 – 49

Hair starts to grow on the foetuses, at the same time your dog will start shedding hair from her belly area in preparation for the birth.

The pups are almost fully formed and you should be able to detect their movements.

Her teats will be bigger and she may feel nauseous and could vomit occasionally.

This is the time to start preparing for the birth. Get a whelping box and start considering what you will need for the birth.

Get a whelping box and start considering what you will need for the birth. I used (5) Warwick Whelping Boxes they are extremely well made and very practical. Start collecting newspapers you are going to need them both during the birth and afterwards and of course for toilet training as the pups start to defecate and urinate on their own about 3.5 weeks after birth.

If you do not get papers delivered, see if friends or relatives can help. Get yourself a whelping kit and some Lactol powdered milk and coloured puppy collars if they don’t come with the whelping kit.

I use the velcro ones. A set of digital scales just normal household ones is fine. Get a heated puppy pad they are invaluable. You are now almost prepared.

Week (8)- Days 49 – 57  

If you haven’t got a selection of old soft blankets and towels, start touring the charity shops or friends. The skeletons have hardened and therefore the pups could be born at any time from now on, day 63 is the most common day for birthing.

My litter of pups were born on day 60 and had no problems whatsoever. Towards the end of this week, she will start to produce colostrum. which is a yellowish fluid that the bitch produces that is rich in antibodies and nutrients.

This is what gives the pups immunity from infections and is the precursor to the full rich milk coming through after a couple of days after birth. Feed your pregnant dog as much as she will eat at this time. she needs all of that goodness to give birth and subsequently rear healthy strong puppies.

Make sure you introduce the whelping box from day 50 onwards put your dog’s favourite toys and any soft toys she may have in the whelping box and feed her there. She may begin nesting behaviour, this is normal.

This is the birthing kit the two stainless steel bowls are for the pups when they are weaning of the mothers milk they need water and a food bowl they can all fit round
This is the birthing kit the two stainless steel bowls are for the pups when they are weaning of the mothers milk they need water and a food bowl they can all fit round

Week (9)- Days 57 – 65 

Your bitch should have been introduced and by now feel comfortable in her whelping box.

The birth is very near. I laid out all the whelping kit in the area I kept the whelping box.

This included heated pad,  blunt scissors, clamping scissors, rubber gloves, ties for the umbilical cord.  

KY Jelly, and Iodine if you can get it, I used antiseptic wipes that came with the whelping kit, a rectal thermometer and a feeding bottle.

Start taking the temperature of your dog at least twice a day.

Normal temperature is 101 to 100 F 38.3 to 37.7C, a drop-down to near 97 F 36.1c for two consecutive readings indicates labour could begin within 24 hours.

She may seem restless and anxious. She may also pace back and forth and refuse food during this 24 hour period before she goes into full labour.

 As I was feeding my dog every 3 or 4  hours it became obvious that whelping would start soon as she refused food about 2 hours before birth. She is a working Cocker Spaniel and never turns her nose up at any food.

Another sign is a sort of greenish plug comes out of her Vulva and may stick to the hair or drop on the floor. About the size of a 5p piece for a small-medium dog  10p for a large one. This is often a sign of the outset of labour. Though this can easily be missed

My bitch vented a small pool of liquid which she drank and 40 minutes later she gave birth to the first of 7 healthy pups. I think that was the water from the amniotic sac. The first pup was born at about 5.30pm and the last at 4.30 am.

She had settled down with her 6 puppies and appeared as though she had finished whelping at about 12 15. Am. Though we could still feel something hard still there we were not sure if this was a retained afterbirth. Then suddenly over 3 hours later she just stood up and gave birth to pup number 7. (6) I will be writing about the birth and growth of these pups in my next article. 

© Stan Rawlinson April 2017

Updated July 2019

(1)  Rearing Sibling Puppies

(2)  Dogs Season or Heat

(3) Nourish + Multi-Vitamin and Coat Supplement

(4) Puppy Porridge Premium Weaning and Whelping Supplement

(5) Warwick Whelping Boxes

(6) The Birth and Growth First 8 WeeksTBA

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