Pregnancy Signs and Labor in an Old Dog

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Dogs usually become less active during pregnancy.
Dogs usually become less active during pregnancy. (Image: dog image by Trav from Fotolia.com)

Owners can find out if their dog is pregnant by looking out for certain physical and behavioral changes. Older dogs can have complications during pregnancy, so it is highly recommended that owners monitor the pregnancy and the labor closely, with the assistance of a veterinarian. It is also common for older dogs to have problems producing enough milk for a litter of puppies, and in that case the puppies will need to be supplemented or hand fed. The dog's gestation period runs from between 56 to 69 days.

Physical Signs

Once the dog is around one month pregnant they will begin to undergo physical changes such as the swelling of the teats and the emitting of a discharge from the vagina. Another sign of pregnancy is the enlargement of the abdomen, although this can sometimes be unnoticeable until three to four weeks before the dog gives birth.

Behavioral Changes

Dog often show changes in their behavior and personality during pregnancy. Some dogs become more clingy than usual, while others become lethargic or standoffish. Dogs can also show a change in appetite sometimes going off their food in the first month of pregnancy and showing increased appetite during the later stages.

Labor

A sure sign that a dog is about to give birth is when her body temperature drops to below 100 degrees. Labor happens in three stages. During the first stage, the dog's cervix will dilate and contractions will start. During this time, the dog may whine or pace around restlessly. This stage can last up to 18 hours. During the second stage of labor, the dog will pass a straw colored fluid. The puppies are usually born half an hour apart. If more than four hours passes between puppies, or if the mother strains continually for over an hour a veterinarian should be called. The third stage involves the uterus contracting completely to expel any remaining placenta or fluid.

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