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Pregnancy doesn’t have to be a stressful time for dogs and their owners. The more you know ahead of time, the easier it will be.

Your pregnant dog will need more affection and attention during this time. Be cautious not to force the pregnant dog into strenuous activities, and be sure to consult a veterinarian about medications and food for pregnant dogs.

Your veterinarian is the best source of information on pregnant dogs, but the following description of signs, behaviors, and caring for pregnancy in dogs can also help.

Signs of a Pregnant Dog

Signs of pregnancy include:

  • Discharge from the vulva starting about one month after mating.
  • After about five weeks of pregnancy, the bitch’s weight will start to increase. She is likely to gain 15-25% of her original body weight (depending on the number of puppies) during the remainder of the term.
  • During the second half of pregnancy, the bitch’s appetite will increase.
  • From day 40 onwards, the bitch’s teats may become more prominent and the mammary glands will enlarge as they fill with milk.
  • Changes in behavior
  • Morning sickness

How to Take Care of a Pregnant Dog

Health Considerations

Veterinary Care for Your Pregnant Dog

If you think your dog is pregnant, your vet can perform an ultrasound and/or a blood test to confirm that yes, your dog is going to be a mother. This can be done as early as 21 days into the pregnancy. Around 45 days, your vet can take x-rays to determine the number and size of the pups. 

It is recommended that you have a fresh stool sample checked by your veterinarian, as intestinal parasites can be spread to the puppies both in utero (in the womb) and during nursing.


Do not use over-the-counter dewormers in your pregnant or nursing dog, as some of these could be dangerous. Your veterinarian can prescribe the appropriate medication if her stool sample shows evidence of parasitic infection.


Before your dog gets pregnant it its really important to make sure she is up to date on her annual vaccines. When the puppies are born they get protection from their mum from her milk, which will only happen if she is fully protected. Puppies can get herpes virus from their mums so it is important to get her vaccinated while she is pregnant to stop them from getting infected at birth.

Feeding and Nutrition

Feed your dog a high-quality dog food that has passed the appropriate feeding tests. Feeding your dog high-quality food prior to pregnancy can improve her and her puppies’ health.

Pregnant dogs need more calories and nutrients while they are pregnant. It is best to feed your pregnant dog food that has been formulated for growth.

In general, your dog will not need any special vitamins or supplements while she is pregnant as long as she is getting the proper diet. However, your veterinarian will make recommendations based on your dog’s individual needs.


Your dog can still exercise during most of her pregnancy, but should not do any strenuous or stressful activities after four to six weeks into the pregnancy. Gentle walks are the best activity for pregnant dogs.3

Always contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health.


During the last few weeks of pregnancy in dogs, she may become very attached to the owner. Some pregnant dogs will not whelp until they are with their owner, so be cautious about going on vacations toward the end of the pregnancy.

The pregnant dog will also be seeking a quiet and secure place to whelp her pups. A secluded area such as a large closet or bedroom that gets little use will work well for whelping.
Prepare for whelping by having a sturdy whelping box available for the puppies. This should be a low, wide box so that mom can look after her puppies. Layer the whelping box with newspaper to absorb the fluids released during the birth.

Other Considerations

Some dogs are slow to go into labor, but if your pregnant dog experiences strong contractions that last more than 45 minutes without a birth, or if more than two hours pass in between the delivery of puppies, call your Veterinarian

Trembling, collapsing, or shivering are all serious warning signs of complications. Additionally, dogs will normally deliver a dark green or bloody fluid after the first puppy, but if you notice this before the first puppy, call your veterinarian.

Dog Breed

All dog breeds are pregnant for a period of around nine weeks, however smaller breeds of dog and Brachycephalic breeds are more likely to experience complications during pregnancy.

In comparison to large breed dogs, smaller breeds are more prone to needing veterinary intervention, whether a C-section or assisted birth.

Also, to properly support her puppies through pregnancy and lactation, a small dog requires more calories per pound than a larger dog.


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