The proper term for a female dog is “bitch” although some prefer to say “female dog.” But, no matter what you call your fertile female canine, there are tell-tale signs that she is pregnant, even if you haven’t seen her mating. Like people, they can sneak around if not fixed.
Some Usual Early Signs
A pregnant canine will usually become more withdrawn, quiet and loose a lot of interest in play, usually because she will feel really tired. Partly due to this decrease in activity, she won’t want to eat as much even treats. She will be come a bit like a canine Greta Garbo (“I vant to be alone.”)
Another early sign of pregnancy in most bitches is that their nipples begin to grow. This can also be a sign of false pregnancy, so ideally your bitch needs to go to the vet to be sure she is pregnant. An ultrasound test can be done, as palpitation tests can’t be done until the 28th day of pregnancy.
About One Month Into Pregnancy
This is when the bitch suddenly becomes ravenous. This is when the puppies are making their first strong physical demands on their mother. About this time you should start to see her abdomen beginning to swell without her neck or other parts of her body getting plumper.
A bitch usually carries the puppies about 63 days and then gives birth (technically called “whelping”). As that third month approaches, you’ll find that your bitch will be sending out strong signals of maternal behavior. She will search out dark, quiet and comfy corners of the house to make a nest. Sometimes, she will want to make her nest on your bed. Try to encourage her to use a more convenient location for you and place treats and soft clean bedding there.
Her abdomen will swell and swell as the puppies grow. If you stare at the abdomen long enough, you can eventually see the puppies moving around.
The nesting activity will escalate about one to two days before the bitch whelps. Some mothers-to-be won’t be interested in nesting until a couple of days before whelping, while some will search out nests weeks before whelping.
A good sign that the puppies are on the way in the next 24 hours is when the bitch’s temperature drops from a normal 101 102 degrees F to about 99 degrees.
“Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook.” Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, et al. Howell Book House; 2007.
Pet Education. “Pregnancy Diagnosis & Caring for the Pregnant Dog.” http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1628&aid=900
Purina.com “Is Your Dog Pregnant?” http://www.purina.co.za/Home/All+About+Dogs/Your+New+Pet+Dog/Pregnancy+and+Birth+Dog/Is+Your+Dog+Pregnant.htm