It is only in the last third of the pregnancy in the bitch that it can no longer be overlooked from the outside that puppies are on the move. Then the little ones have a growth spurt and the dog's belly becomes spherical. If you want to know beforehand whether your dog lady is expecting babies, your veterinarian can help you.
How long is the pregnancy in the bitch?
Basically, bitches can only become pregnant in the second phase of their ripeness, since ovulation only takes place during this time. The duration of pregnancy varies between 61 and 65 days after ovulation. However, it is not so clear to dog owners when ovulation occurs. The mating date as the starting point, however, is easy to determine.
However, the gestation period fluctuates between 54 and 72 days after the mating date. This is because the period of time when the bitch was fertilized after ovulation is shortened and longer if the bitch was previously mated. In addition, the sperm of the male live in the fallopian tube of the bitch for at least six days after the mating act and can wait there for ovulation. In this case, it can actually take up to 72 days after the breeding date for the puppies to see the light of day.
Recognize early pregnancy: vet tests
At the earliest 21 days after conception, your veterinarian can determine a pregnancy in the bitch by a blood test. Sometimes this "pregnancy test" is only reliable after 25 to 28 days. A supporting bitch is the hormone Relaxin, which can be detected in the blood - if the level of Relaxin is increased, this is a sure sign of pregnancy and that the fetuses are alive. With this blood test, the real pregnancy can be distinguished from the hypnotism.
You can also have the veterinarian perform an ultrasound examination a month after the mating date. Theoretically, an ultrasound scan can be performed as early as the 18th day of pregnancy, but the later date provides more reliable results. In this way, the doctor can already guess how big the litter will be, whether all the puppies are actually alive and whether there are any complications with the pregnancy. However, the number of babies cannot be determined with certainty. The doctor can still check his presumption by palpation, but surprises can still occur at birth because one or the other boy has been overlooked.
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Visible signs of pregnancy
A viscous, translucent to milky vaginal discharge is noticeable around 30 days after fertilization. If the discharge smells very unpleasant, have it checked by your veterinarian, as this indicates a complication. In the last third of gestation, i.e. from the 40th day, your bitch changes noticeably in appearance: This way the teats emerge and change color, the nipples thicken and the dog's belly becomes more and more rounded.
Your expectant dog mother also has an increased appetite and should also get special food for pregnant bitches. With a stethoscope, the veterinarian can also hear the puppy's heartbeat - at 200 to 240 beats per minute, it is significantly faster than the dog's heartbeat. In this phase you should already prepare a cozy, warm litter box for your bitch, then she will have a quiet and comfortable retreat for the birth.
Preparation for childbirth: How to help your bitch
If the birth date is approaching, you should measure the temperature of your bitch. Ten to six days beforehand, it drops 37 to 38 degrees Celsius, shortly before birth even to 36.5 degrees before rising again at birth. In addition, the dog mother now shows nesting behavior, looks restless, licks her vulva and no longer has an appetite. You can recognize the contractions by a greenish vaginal discharge and abdominal presses. Then you should keep an eye on your dog and have the telephone number of the veterinarian at hand so that you can quickly get help in an (rare) emergency.