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Before deciding to breed your bitch, it’s very important you carefully consider your reasons for doing so and understand what to expect during and after her pregnancy. The sad reality is that there are thousands of unwanted pets out there already without homes or owners. The type of care you provide your bitch will also have to change when she becomes pregnant and when she finally gives birth.
On this page we describe the basics of dog fertility, providing information on pregnancy (planned or unplanned), heat cycles and neutering.
Dog pregnancies typically last about nine weeks. Pregnancy duration may vary slightly depending on the dog, but will usually last no less than 58 days, and no more than 68 days.
Dog pregnancy can be diagnosed by a vet through blood tests, examining the uterus or through an ultrasound test.
Weight gain is usually the first sign that your dog is pregnant. During the first three to four weeks, some dogs will experience morning sickness caused by a shift in progesterone levels and by the stretching of the uterus. Morning sickness usually lasts no more than a couple of days and may even go unnoticed. If your dog is throwing up, try feeding her smaller and more spaced-out meals.
At about six weeks into the pregnancy, your dog’s nipples will darken and begin to enlarge along with the belly. Your dog will also begin to secrete a milky fluid from her nipples as she gets closer to birth.
Dogs should only have a litter once a year up until age six. Pregnancies in dogs older than six years are more likely to lead to complications and lower survival rates.
Dog heat cycles
How often your bitch comes into season will depend on some individual factors and breed differences, but dogs typically come into season once every six to eight months. She will remain in heat for two to four weeks and you will probably notice that her back end is larger and darker than usual, and that her tail is raised. Your dog will also be discharging blood during these few weeks.
Neutering your dog involves removing parts of the reproductive organs to prevent unwanted breeding. Male dogs are neutered through castration, which involves the removal of the testicles. Female dogs are spayed, which involves the removal of the uterus and ovaries.
In addition to preventing unplanned pregnancies, neutering your dog has many potential benefits for both you and your animal. Your dog’s behaviour may well become calmer and more predictable because of diminished sexual impulses. For instance, neutered dogs are often less aggressive, less likely to mark their territory, and less likely to stray. Neutering also reduces the likelihood of health complications associated with pregnancy and decreases the chances of testicular and mammary cancers.
The content of these pages is for general information only. It does not constitute advice and must not be acted or relied on as being so. Veterinary advice should always be sought before applying this or any other information to any facts and circumstances concerning each individual pet.
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