Dog pregnancy stages are subtle at first. When a female dog becomes pregnant, you may not notice any symptoms until the fourth or fifth week. Look for signs such as swollen nipples. If the bitch is going to have a large litter, you may notice weight gain, but generally, you will not notice weight gain until later in the pregnancy.
Even from early on in the pregnancy, you may notice that she is hungrier and drinks more water. By the end of the pregnancy, she will eat almost double what she normally eats. Make sure there is plenty of water, and feed her multiple times per day, allowing her to eat what she wants.
Stages Of Labor
Once the bitch goes into labor, there are three additional stages in the pregnancy. In stage one, she might be restless and/or nervous. She may also go off her food and try to hide. Stage one generally lasts from 6 to 24 hours. She should be lightly exercised during this time and allowed to urinate and move her bowels.
The contractions do not begin until stage two. Once contractions begin, depending on the dog, you may see a small green sac of fluid protruding from the vulva. Once you see the green sac (if it appears), a puppy will soon follow.
The third stage is the when the bitch rests. After each pup is born, the bitch will rest. She will have mild contractions and deliver the afterbirth in this stage. This third stage lasts-on average-from a little as 10 minutes to as long as a few hours. Some bitches may even deliver some pups within seconds of each other, and then it might be hours before the next pup is delivered. Stages two and three are repeated for each pup.
If the bitch gets to a point where it is more than 15 or 20 minutes after the third or fourth pup, you should take her outside to allow her to urinate and move her bowels, if needed. Always follow her, in the event that she delivers a pup outside.
Toward The End Of The Labor
After you think the last pup has been delivered, keep an eye on the bitch for a few hours, in case there is one more pup taking its time to make its appearance, and schedule a checkup with your veterinarian. Check if your dog health insurance covers these visits, as pet insurance often does not cover pregnancies.