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Ask Jane Lefler Your Own Question
Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Breeder,Behaviorist, formerVet Asst
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 19756
Experience:  Former vol Vet Assistant.Breeder 18+ years Dog trainer / behaviorist
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When will my dog start to show

Customer Question

My dog should be pregnant but this is my first time breeding. I found them 5 times stuck together and was just wondering when I would be able to tell if she is pregnant by looking at her not taking her to the vet?
Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 10 years ago.

Pregnancy in dogs is difficult to determine in the early stages. Dogs have a heat cycle during which she ovulates and "ties" with a male in order to become pregnant. If you witnessed a tie, most likely she is pregnant. One sign is a vulva that does not completely shrink down--it stays soft and a bit more swollen than what is normally seen after a heat cycle. You may also begin to see a discharge that is sticky and dries quickly on the hair around the vulva. Around week four of the pregnancy you might notice a thickening and the start of weight gain and some swelling of the breasts.

Your Vet has a few different ways to determine if your dog is pregnant. They can run a blood test to confirm pregnancy based on hormonal levels. They can also gently palpate the abdomen at about a month after breeding to feel for puppy bumps. They can perform an x-ray during the final week of pregnancy (8th week) and look for puppy skeletons. This method can give you a good idea of how many puppies your dog may have. Ultrasound may also be available at your vet and can help determine pregnancy in a dog. Once a dog reaches the 8th week of pregnancy, you can frequently feel the puppies moving around inside of mom. I find it best to have the dog on their side and feel between the rib cage and hindquarters above the breast area.

Puppies are born approximately 57 to 64 days after breeding with the average being 63 days depending on when ovulation occurred.

False pregnancy does occur in dogs and the symptoms are the same as if they were indeed pregnant. If in the fifth week following mating your dog is experiencing these symptoms, she may be pregnant and should be fed a high quality puppy food. I feed any female that has mated a high quality puppy food until it is determined they did not conceive.

I know you were looking for a sure fire answer but it really is difficult.

I have included the stages of pregnancy for you as well.

The first week of pregnancy
Fertilization occurs and the embryos are in the oviduct. The mom may experience morning sickness and possible personality changes.

During the second week
The embryo will grow from a 4 cells to 64 cells and it will enter the uterus. Mom may still have morning sickness.

Third week
The embryos implant in the uterus.

Fourth week
The embryo develop eyes and spinal cords and their faces take shape. They are most susceptible to defects at this stage. Mom may have a clear discharge, mammary glands start to swell. It may be possible to feel for puppies at this point.

fifth week
Puppies develop toes, claws and look like dogs now. Their gender can be determined and their eyes are closed. They are now pretty resistant to developmental problems at this stage. Swelling of mom's belly becomes noticable and will start to gain weight.

sixth week
During this week the pups develop skin pigment. they weigh around 6 grams. Fetal heartbeats can be heard with stethoscope by a trained individual. Mom continues to gain weight and her nipples darken and swell.

seventh week
Pups continue to grow and mom's abdomen hair starts shedding. Mom really starts to look pregnant at this stage.

eighth week
You can now feel the puppies moving around inside mom when she is at rest. The puppies can be born safely now. Milk may be expressed from mom's nipples. Mom will be extremely large.

ninth week
Puppies continue to grow. Mom will start exhibing nesting behavior, pant, act uncomfortable. She will experience a temperature drop approximately 24 hours before labor starts. She will probably lose her appetite as labor grows closer.

Hope this helps.