pregnancy in dogs

If your dog falls pregnant either intentionally or unintentionally, you might be wondering how long she will stay pregnant and what you can do to help her.

Though there are not many things you can do, understanding how her body works and what she’s going through could help you to give her the support she needs.

How long?

Most grown-up female dogs will be ready to breed once every six months, and the heat cycle will last for about four weeks. However, keep in mind that it’s the best for your dog to be at least two years old before you start breeding her, it’s when her body is fully developed and ready to bear puppies.

The length of a dog’s pregnancy period will range between 58 to 65 days, depending on different factors, such as litter size, breed size or family line average.

Signs of pregnancy

Your dog’s nipples will start to grow because the glands and tissues under it are making room for the milk. Similar to morning sickness in humans, dogs also have changes in their appetite; they will eat less and sleep more than usual.

Behavioural changes could also be a sign; she might be more affectionate and need more of your attention or wants to be alone. Both cases are very common. The hormonal changes, which are triggered during pregnancy, are responsible for these differences in your dog.

dog pregnant
Image: Shutterstock

Developments of puppies during pregnancy

Day 32: the embryos start to have a shape. The eyelids and faces are starting to form.
Day 35: you can see the puppies’ toes
Day 45: the puppies start to develop their coat and skeleton
Day 50: an X-ray can be taken to count the number of your dog’s offspring as the skeletons are formed
Day 58: the mother will start to look for a place to nest, you should make that ready for her already at this point.

How to take care of her

After knowing your dog is pregnant, mark 56 days after the breeding on your calendar. If possible, after the 56 days, never let your dog out of sight and always keep an eye on her.


For the first few weeks, you can keep feeding her regular dog food for adult dogs, then gradually replace it with puppy food so, by the final week of the pregnancy, she is only on puppy food. You should give her multiple meals in a day with small portions instead of two big meals a day as usual.

Give your dog a balanced diet, so she will have healthy skin, muscles, joints, and bones, preventing potential problems with her and her puppies. Normally, you don’t need any supplements for your pregnant dog as the high-quality commercial dog food has already contained a balanced formula for pregnant dogs. However, visit your vet to see what they recommend.


Your dog will need constant exercise during her pregnancy to keep her healthy. The exercise should not be too hard and tiring, but enough to keep her muscle activated, managing her weight at a suitable level and keeping the blood flowing.

About two weeks before the scheduled labor, you should prepare a whelping box for her to give birth. To help her produce more milk for the puppies, you can give her natural supplements such as Saw Palmetto, Echinacea Purpurea, and Cleavers. However, consult your vet before giving her anything just in case.


pregnant dog
Image: Shutterstock

Do you need your vet in such time?

The answer is no, your dog can do it on her own without any assistance. However, call your vet immediately if you see these:

  • Green or black discharge that is not followed by birthing
  • Inability to remove the puppy from the mother
  • More than four hours between puppy deliveries
  • No sign of puppies after two hours of labour
  • Vomiting, panting heavily and trembling in your dog
  • Pregnancy last longer than 65 days

If the labouring occurs successfully, your puppies will be ready for a new home after eight weeks.

About the Author:
John Braise is a professional blogger who has years of experience writing and giving advice to those who are in trouble with taking care of their pets. With a very special love for pets in general and dogs in particular, he yearns for providing information and guidance for those who have the same desire for looking after their dogs in the best ways. Also, he fancies penning helpful and valuable dog care tips to make owners feel at ease with their four-legged buddies on

This story is a guest submission and does not reflect the views of Dogs Monthly Magazine, always consult a qualified expert.


  1. i have read your notes but i am worried my 3 year old chocolate labrador is pregnant but she is refusing to eat it is 34 days since she was mated i took he to the vets yesterday as she would not eat anything and they examined her and said she was healthy they told me to try a better quailty food which she ate yesterday but refuses today both yesterday and today she has brought up bile with blood in it last year she had her first litter when she was scanned they said she had 5 puppies but all but one dissolved and she only gave birth to one very healthy chunkie puppy she weighs 28kg i would appreciate any advice you may have thanks christine

    • Hi Christine, I’m sorry to hear this. Our editorial team cannot give veterinary advice. I can pass this to our expert for our K9 Queries but this may take some time so I would urge you to return to your vet or see a different vet for a second opinion in the meantime. I hope you get answers soon and that your Labrador returns to full health.


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