How long are dogs pregnant? Do you think your female dog, or bitch, accidentally got pregnant when she was in heat? If your bitch is not spayed, there are some things you should be aware of, including the length of the pregnancy and the signs of pregnancy in a bitch.
Is my dog really pregnant?
Some dogs go through pseudocyesis-false pregnancy-about 6 to 12 weeks after a heat cycle. The false pregnancy is caused by hormones and lasts three to four weeks. Signs include vaginal discharge, nesting behavior and weight gain.
This is not a serious medical condition unless the bitch develops pyometra. This may happen after a heat cycle and/or a false pregnancy because of the stimulation of the uterus with abnormal levels of estrogen and progesterone. Watch for increased thirst, increased urination and fever. The bitch may also seem lethargic and may go off her food. Pus builds up in the uterus-in closed pyometra, where the cervix is closed, the pus cannot drain, so you must rely on other signs. If you suspect any problems with a false pregnancy, you should take her to the vet as soon as possible, but no vet visit is needed for a "normal" false pregnancy.
What should I expect if my dog really is pregnant?
A bitch's pregnancy lasts from 64 to 66 days-about nine weeks. Depending on the bitch and the size of the litter, the pregnancy time might vary as much as a full week. You can usually tell "for sure" at about 18 days into the pregnancy. Sometimes, an ultrasound detects the fetuses as early as 16 days, but the heartbeats will not be detectable until about 24 days. A pregnant dog will also secrete a hormone called relaxin, which can be measured via a blood test, but this does not show up until after 30 days-and sometimes as late as 35 days.
When your bitch becomes pregnant, you may notice that she becomes demanding and her behavior, while demanding, is affectionate. However, some bitches want to be left alone. You will also notice swollen nipples, decreased appetite and some lethargy. These signs generally show up in the first three weeks.
When it is time for delivery, set up a whelping box lined with clean towels, blankets or sheets. Be patient, as it may take a while between the arrivals of each pup. Prepare to take your dog out so she can urinate and move her bowels, which she may need to do in between puppies, and watch out in case she delivers a puppy outside.
You should also take the puppies and the mother to the veterinarian for a checkup after the birth. This might be expensive, and your dog health insurance might not cover it, so ask the vet about the costs and start saving up beforehand.