Frequently Asked Questions on Dog Pregnancy

Posted by Eddie Salama on

We’ve already tackled the most important things on Dog pregnancy. However, there are probably more questions bothering you. As your guide on becoming responsible dog parents, we don’t want your questions left unanswered.

In Little Yorky, we believe that we can all become responsible dog parents to our dogs. Being responsible entails giving time and effort to our growth as parents. If we allow ourselves to grow in our experiences, we can be the best dog parents we can be!

“I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions.”

-Lou Holtz

To equip you on becoming dog parents and grandparents, here are the frequently asked questions on dog pregnancy and their answers from animal-friendly blog Pro Pet Hero and Doctor Cathy Alinovi in Pet Helpful:

What Is the Heat Cycle?

dog pregnancy

On average, a female dog starts her first estrus, or heat cycle when she is around six months old. This can be earlier for some breeds and as late as 18-24 months for others- such as large breed dogs. Being “in heat” or “in season” are also common terms to describe this time in a dog’s reproductive cycle.

Obvious bodily changes occur such as enlarged nipples, swollen vulva and then eventually bloody discharge. The entire process lasts about 14-21 days, again, depending on the dog. Unlike humans, the discharge is not a sloughing of the uterine wall but a hormonal and pheromonal discharge that carries signals and smells to attract male dogs, communicating when the female is ready to breed.

When Can a Dog Get Pregnant?

Females can only get pregnant while they are in season and more often than not, this can be very obvious to people as to when. The dog’s body changes and often their behavior as well. They may tend to mark, or pee in smaller amounts in different places around your property. For some the changes are subtle and not so obvious, that is why it is crucial to check over your dog’s body completely at the very least once a week. Not only searching for injuries but checking out all their parts for growth or changes that may in fact lead to their heat cycle.

In general the female will know exactly when she is fertile and ready to accept a male. This is referred to as a standing heat because she will stand for the male. When she is not receptive she will walk away, sit or even snarl at the advancing male to say – back off! When she is ready, it’s pretty darn obvious.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Pregnant?

dog pregnancy

This is actually much easier than many people make it sound. I have heard people claim that a dog from five miles away jumped an eight foot fence to mate with a dog in heat. While this could actually happen, preventing this is relatively easy.

Here are some ways I do it:

  • Panties are always on the female when she is ever off-leash in the house. As illustrated in the video above. My females are around in tact males but for the entire three weeks of their estrus, they are never left out of sight loose. They are crated then closed behind a door or the male is.
  • The female is let out separately from the male, ALWAYS. She is attended in the yard, never left to roam on her own. It’s not just the intact males in the neighborhood, she might want to go for a dander herself to find a boyfriend.
  • She is never brought to public places unless on leash and wearing panties. We still continue to train in agility during this time and there are intact males in the building. She is only off leash with me in the ring but again – always wearing her pants.


Veterinarians will have a very straight forward approach and will recommend spaying and neutering. That certainly is the 100% guaranteed way to prevent your dog from getting pregnant. This is not necessarily the healthiest option for all dogs and I would advise doing your homework, especially on the timing of the surgery. It is a major surgery where not only the reproductive organs are removed but valuable organs that are part of a hormone cycle that have been proven to help stave off cancers, promote proper growth in the animal and many more benefits.

How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

Dogs are pregnant for about two months, usually between 61-65 days, again depending on the dog, the breed etc. Pregnancy is very hard to confirm any earlier than three weeks into it so you will have to bite your nails until you can get into a vet for an ultrasound. Skulls and bones don’t start to harden until six weeks so that is when most people can feel them but three weeks is the earliest time to be detect by ultrasound.

My Dog is Confirmed Pregnant, What Now?

If the pregnancy is unplanned then the prior weeks to breeding and the nutritional consideration for that have passed, BUT you can still provide better nutrition in the final 5-6 weeks to help your dog and the puppies on the way. Consult with your veterinarian on the amounts and type of food your pregnant dog should receive for optimal growth of the pups and to maintain the best health of your dog. We follow a strict diet regimen for our pregnant girls that they do not seem to mind considering their meal size doubles in quantity and frequency! We also supplement and remove certain parts of their diet based on their breed, size and personal needs.

You will want to build out a section of your home for the mom to have her puppies. This should be a quiet area not in the center of the hustle and bustle of the home. A quiet corner where temperature can be easily regulated and she can build a nice den, which technically you will build for her.

What should be done before breeding females?

The dog needs to be:

  1. Old enough
  2. Vaccinated
  3. On a healthy diet
  4. Have a good mate selected

Old enough means waiting to breed until at least after the first heat cycle. It is best to let the future mom finish growing before she is bred. For most breeds, this is at least the second heat cycle; it may be longer in larger breed dogs.

Should I change my dog’s diet because she is pregnant?

She should always eat good food (focus on meat and vegetables; avoid corn or by-products), but she needs twice as many calories in the second half of her pregnancy as she would normally consume. By the time the pups are three weeks old and nursing up a storm, she will eat three times as much food as she did before she was pregnant.

Can my dog continue normal activities while pregnant? What if she is a show or working dog?

dog pregnancy

Just like pregnant humans, the pregnant dog can do her normal activities until the third trimester, which is the last three to four weeks of canine pregnancy.

At that time, she should have her own space and not spend time with other dogs. The last three to four weeks gives her time to get comfortable with her whelping conditions and to avoid other dogs who may have minor viral infections that could be a problem for the puppies (like canine herpes virus).

What is false pregnancy?

In false pregnancy, or pseudo-pregnancy, the dog’s hormones are out of balance and her body thinks it is pregnant but is not. False pregnancy often occurs 6 to 12 weeks after a heat cycle. A blood test will show she is not pregnant.

However, she may build a nest with pillows or toys, she may develop mammary glands, may even leak milk, and she may have signs of going into labor. Spaying her after the false pregnancy is done prevents future occurrences of pseudo-pregnancy.

Will my dog require any special care before she delivers the puppies?

As mentioned above, she needs increasing amounts of food and water in the last four weeks. She needs a warm and quiet place to deliver her pups, and lots of love.

What should I avoid doing?

It’s human nature to want to help. However, most times, puppy delivery goes well on its own and it is best not to interfere. Try not to be nervous as it may make the mom nervous. She needs to relax and let things happen.

dog pregnancy

“Life is about growing and improving and getting better.”
- Conor McGregor

The Little Yorky Family would like to take pride with you if your dog is expecting her puppies. Congratulations to your buddy for reaching another milestone!  Cheers to our growing canine family!




Feel free to go back to the following articles:

Signs of Dog Pregnancy

Stages of Dog Pregnancy

Dog Pregnancy Care

Dog Birthing Preparation

Dog Whelping (Giving Birth to Dogs)

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