The gestation period, or better known as pregnancy in a female dog (bitch) lasts from anywhere from 58 to 65 days long. The typical time period is around 65 days on average but will vary a bit depending on the size of the dog as well as the breed. If the period of pregnancy lasts more the average period, please see your vet!
Food During Pregnancy?
When your female dog is pregnant, they should be eating a very balanced diet. Get them either a quality prepared dry food that is offered commercially, or you can always cook for them. If you need to, you can always supplement their diet with some vitamins such as extra calcium. Please consult with a vet if you decide to do this so you can make sure you are being safe.
While the puppies are growing, there will be less space for food but you will notice that she will start eating more throughout the day even if each individual meal is a lot less. This is very normal so be prepared to feed her more frequent meals.
Figuring out your dog is pregnant
If you notice your dog starting to increase in weight and her abdominal region enlarging, she may be pregnant. You can also check if there is reddening of the mammary glands or if there is any production of milk. If you take her to the vet, they will be able to tell between the 4th and 6th week of pregnancy but this may be hard if your dog is overweight. If unsure, they will typically give your dog an ultrasound to make sure.
Signs of Labor
A full day before your dog goes into labor, they will appear very restless and will not be interested in food. You may notice some panting and notice that the vulva is swollen and there is a clear discharge.
Once these signs are present, abdominal contractions will begin and she will start motions that look like heaving. After contractions begin, the first pup should come within 1 to 2 hours. If after 4 hours of contractions and no pups have come out, please get a vet right away!
After the first pup is born, the time between each one is typically 15 minutes to an hour. Once all her puppies are born, she will slowly stop breathing as heavily and will become quiet and sometimes motionless. She will then clean up her puppies.
During this time, please try and not lend a hand as the mothers job is to look after her puppies and they are very good at it!