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How Long Are Dogs Pregnant?

Dogs and cats’ body systems have plenty of similarities with ours, but they are rather different when it comes to pregnancy… That’s why getting to know more about this topic is always valuable! One of the biggest differences lies in the fact that our beloved pets almost always give birth to more than one offspring at a time. Another known fact is that their pregnancy does not last nearly as much as in humans… But just how long are dogs pregnant? And what about cats? 

There are a few more differences regarding dogs and cats’ reproductive tract that make them unique. Find out more about their heat cycles by reading How long does a dog stay in heat?

How long are dogs pregnant?

The average gestation period for dogs is approximately 63 days, counting from the day of conception. However, it can be hard to tell the exact day, and that is why the gestation length might vary a bit. For cats, we usually count 63 to 67 days.

Other factors make it more challenging to predict the length of pregnancy in dogs. Sperm can last for several days inside the female reproductive tract, and eggs can remain fertile for up to 48 hours. As a result, the mating process itself might not be the starting point for the gestation period. That’s why no one is better to identify in which stage the female dog is at than a veterinarian. Measuring sexual hormones, performing ultrasounds, x-rays and other tests, are powerful resources for this assessment.

Measuring sexual hormones, especially progesterone, is particularly easy and reliable. It will help the vet analyze ovulation, parturition and other cyclical abnormalities.

Stages of Pregnancy

As the gestation periods are relatively short, puppies and kittens develop rapidly inside the womb.

-First 30 days of pregnancy

During the first month, the embryos travel to the uterine horns and are embedded in the uterine lining. The fetus begins to take shape by day 22, and by day 26 or 28 the vet should be able to detect fetal heartbeats on an ultrasound.

Plenty of pregnant dogs and cats will not show any symptoms during the first weeks. For the ones who do, here is what we can expect:

  • Nausea and vomiting, resembling the well-known “morning sickness”, but occuring at any time of the day. It may lead to lack of appetite or food refusal.
  • Increase in appetite if the dog does not feel sick.
  • Slightly enlarged nipples. Cats’ nipples may get dark.
  • A clear vaginal discharge might be exhibited.
  • Decreased physical activity, as they spend more time sleeping.
  • In cats, not showing signs of heat can be the first indication that they are indeed pregnant.

-Between day 30 and 56

Fetal development is quick during the second month. Eyelids form by day 32, and toes are visible by day 35. The coat and skeleton follow a few days later, around day 45. By day 50, an x-ray will reveal the number of new babies of the litter… And somewhere near day 56, the soon-to-be mom will start looking for a place to nest.

The signs of pregnancy are much more obvious during this second month:

  • Strong increase in appetite.
  • More affectionate and needy behaviour. Cats purr more frequently.
  • Urinating more often.
  • A clear and odorless vaginal discharge.
  • Enlarged abdomen that will get tight and hard by day 45 to 50.
  • Visible puppy or kitten movement in the abdomen around day 50.

Last days of pregnancy

Puppy and kitten development is almost complete around day 58. This means they will begin to move into a whelping position in the birth canal.

The birth is not far ahead at this point, and some evident changes happen:

  • Waist will trim as the babies move into the birth canal.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Drop in body temperature 12 to 24 hours before labor (-1ºC).
  • Restless behavior – pacing, panting, shivering or digging. 

Conclusion

Dogs and cats are usually able to give birth to their babies without human interference. Some might struggle, however, and that’s why monitoring the entire process is mandatory. Seek advice with our vet team if you have any concerns about this topic, or if your dog or cat is giving birth soon. We will help you through every stage of the process so you can feel confident and at ease!



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