The standard length of gestation in dogs is approximately 63 days, but this can vary by a few days. However, determining the exact date of conception can be difficult, as sperm can survive inside the female for several days, and eggs can remain fertile for up to 48 hours. Therefore, mating alone is not a reliable measure of gestation. To accurately estimate the length of pregnancy, veterinarians often use hormonal measurements, such as vaginal smears and blood tests, to monitor reproductive hormones during breeding.
According to hormone measurements, the length of gestation is typically as follows:
- 56-58 days from the start of diestrus
- 64-66 days from the initial increase in progesterone
- 58-72 days from the first mating
Dog pregnancy lasts only about 9 weeks, which is a relatively short period compared to human pregnancy. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor the length of gestation to ensure the health of the pregnant dog and her puppies. Proper nutrition and veterinary care during pregnancy are also essential.
Stages of Pregnancy
During the first month of pregnancy, the embryos travel to the uterine horns, and the fetuses begin to take shape by day 22. Fetal heartbeats can be detected on an ultrasound by day 28 or 30. During the second month, fetal development progresses rapidly, and the number of puppies in the litter can be determined by x-ray at day 50. By day 58, the puppies begin to move into the whelping position in the birth canal.
Stages of Labor
In the final few days of pregnancy, the pregnant dog may exhibit symptoms such as a decrease in appetite, a drop in body temperature 12-to-24 hours before labor, and restless behavior. Once the gestation period is over, the three stages of labor begin. Stage one can last up to 24 hours and is not always noticeable, while puppies are delivered during stage two, which can take up to 24 hours. Stage three involves the delivery of the placenta.
Owners should contact their veterinarian if their dog’s labor takes more than 24 hours or if more than 2 hours pass between puppies, as this could be a sign of a serious complication. By following proper care and feeding for pregnant dogs and newborn puppies, owners can ensure that their litter of puppies has a healthy start in life.
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