Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Diagnosis & Preparation

Dog Pregnancy: Signs, Diagnosis & Preparation

Author WDF Staff


You are here probably because you suspect your dog is pregnant or planning a litter of puppies, so you want to be prepared for the pregnancy. It’s great that you are preparing, and we will do anything we can to help you do it. If you are suspecting your dog is pregnant, here is how you can be sure.

Signs my dog is pregnant

The best way to determine if your dog is pregnant is thorough veterinary testing, but before you decide to go and spend money on the test, check if your dog is showing any of these signs;

  • Increase in nipple size - As her body is preparing for nursing the pups, the dog’s nipples will enlarge. You might even notice a milk-like substance coming out.
  • Appetite - Increased appetite is another sign. Your dog’s body is developing puppies, and that is hard work! She needs additional energy, so it is natural her appetite will increase.
  • Weight gain - Just like with humans, pregnant dogs will gain weight. By the end of the pregnancy, you could see her tummy swinging from side to side while she walks, and it is an adorable sight.

Your best bet is a visit to the vet. Some of these signs can even be a symptom of diseases and health problems, so pay your vet a visit and make sure you are safe and not sorry.

There is also a chance your dog shows signs of false pregnancy, and you can read about it here.

Vet check

The absolute best way to make sure your dog is pregnant and not sick, or falsely pregnant, is to get your dog to the vet’s office and get her examined. Vets usually do that with a diagnostic test.

What is a diagnostic test?

There is a couple of diagnostic tests your vet could perform to determine whether or not your dog is pregnant, and the first test they will do is abdominal palpation. Abdominal palpation is a fancy way of saying your vet will try to feel your dog’s abdomen and see if they can feel puppy fetuses. 


The best and most secure way for a vet to determine if your dog is pregnant is by performing an x-ray scan. It is usually done around the 50th day of gestation, and if done correctly, you can clearly see how many puppies are developing in your dog’s uterus. It is done so late because, before the 50th day, the puppy’s skeletal will not show on an x-ray.


Before the x-ray test or scan, your vet can perform an ultrasound to confirm dog pregnancy. It is done around the 30th day of gestation, and ultrasound can even pick up on puppies’ heartbeats, so you might get a close estimation of the number of puppies coming your way.

Hormone test

Around the 30th day, your dog can undergo a hormone test. Your vet will look for a relaxin hormone (no, not called like that because the dog is relaxing during pregnancy), which is only released if your dog is pregnant. It is usually a clear confirmation.

Now that you have confirmed your dog is pregnant, there are some things you should learn about dog pregnancy, gestation period, and whelping (giving birth). Here is some helpful information.

Interested in learning about Kennel Cough? Check out everything you need to know about it here.

Pregnancy and gestation

Like humans, dogs also have a sensitive pregnancy period. To ensure all the puppies are safely delivered and your dog is in the best possible health, follow these two general pieces of advice. Your dog should have a balanced and healthy diet that will provide her and her developing puppies with all the necessary nutrients. The second advice is never to skip vet appointments.

Dog pregnancy diet

A healthy diet is always vital, but providing your dog with a great diet during pregnancy is absolutely critical. Your vet might advise you to slowly increase your dog’s daily meals until she eventually eats 50% more than her usual daily intake. The vet might recommend some additional supplements like vitamins. It would also be good to divide her diet into smaller but frequent meals.

Vet appointments during dog pregnancy 

Keeping to your vet appointments is vital because they can detect any signs of discomfort or even dog pregnancy problems. They will not only confirm your dog is pregnant, but they will also provide you with support and advice throughout the gestation period. It is also good to be prepared for any possible emergencies.

How long is a dog pregnant?

A dog gestation period (dog pregnancy) lasts about 63 days. That is just over two months in which puppies develop enough to be safely delivered. The dog gestation period is also divided into three trimesters that last approximately 21 days.

Prepping for puppies

A dog giving birth is called whelping, and you want that to happen as safely and as comfortably as possible. The key to that is preparing. Make sure you have everything prepared, and start by setting up a whelping box. These boxes offer a clean, safe, stress-free environment for moms to deliver puppies. Make sure you get your dog used to the box before the whelping and don’t make it a last-minute purchase.

Whelping kit and supplies

The best possible thing to do is to buy everything you need before your dog goes into labor. Make sure they are accustomed to the whelping box and that you have everything you might need. Keep your vet on speed-dial and hope for the best. Here is a hefty list of things you might need when puppies arrive;

  • Flooring like newspapers for the whelping box
  • Clean, dry towels for cleaning
  • Paper towels
  • Thermometer to check on mom before whelping
  • Bath mats (the non-skid kind) for flooring
  • Sterilized scissors for the umbilical cord
  • A heating pad or a bottle of warm water for warming the newborn puppies
  • Iodine for disinfecting the puppies abdomens and umbilical cord after it’s cut
  • Vet or pet ER location if problems occur
  • Baby scale to weigh your new puppies

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