The gestation period for dogs is much shorter than the gestation for human beings. While the development of a human being is approximately nine months long puppies develop in the womb much more quickly. The typical gestation period for dogs is approximately nine weeks or between 58 and 65 days. New breeders may be curious about what goes on during this time. They may also be anxious about what they can expect. This article will outline the development of a dog during the gestation period as well as the changes occurring in the mother.
The fertilization process takes place during the first week. At this time the embryos consist of just two cells and these cells are in the oviduct. During this time the bitch may experience morning sickness as well as changes in her personality. Her diet and exercise routine should not be modified at this time with the exception of a bitch that was sedentary should begin light forms of exercise to strengthen her for the birthing process. The bitch should not receive any live vaccines during the pregnancy and flea treatments should not be used.
The embryos grow rapidly during the second week. They start out as just four cells and rapidly multiply to 64 cells. During this week the embryos also enter the uterus of the bitch. The bitch may continue to experience morning sickness and diet and exercise should remain consistent with week one. During week three the embryos are implanted in the uterus. The care and feeding of the bitch does not change during the third week.
During the fourth week of gestation the puppies really begin to take shape in the uterus. The eyes and the spinal cords develop and the faces become recognizable. Changes in the bitch also occur during this time. The bitch may begin to experience clear discharges from the vagina during this week and mammary development will also begin. Late in the fourth week it is also sometimes possible to feel the puppies in the uterus. A veterinarian may be able to determine the size of the litter at this time.
During the fifth week of gestation the puppies continue to grow and develop even more. The fetuses really become recognizable at this point as they continue to grow in size and develop toes, claws and whisker buds. It may also be possible to determine the gender of the puppies at this time through the use of ultrasound devices. Up until this point the eyes of the puppies have been open but during the fifth week they close. The weight of the bitch will begin to increase during this time and she begins to swell in size. During this time you will want to switch the bitch to a puppy formula food to increase the amount of fat in the diet and begin giving a multi vitamin formulated for dogs each day.
The sixth week of gestation is an exciting time as the skin pigment of the puppies begins to develop. The hearts of the fetus can also be heard with the use of a stethoscope. The abdomen of the bitch will continue to grow and it is a good idea to begin adding cottage cheese or eggs to her meals for added nutrients. She should also begin sleeping in the whelping box so she becomes accustomed to this area.
During the seventh week of gestation the fetuses are continuing to grow and the bitch is also increasing in size. Her meals should be increased slightly again and expect the hair on her abdomen to begin shedding as her body prepares for birth.
The eight week of pregnancy is the point from the birth of the puppies may come at any time. The fetuses have developed sufficiently and live births are viable at this point. The nutritional needs of the bitch continue to increase as lactation begins. Adding an extra meal will help to meet these needs.
The ninth week of gestation is considered to be the final week. Most bitches deliver around this time. The fetuses continue to grow in the uterus. The bitch may begin nesting in preparation of the births. As labor approaches the appetite of the bitch will likely decrease and her temperature will drop to around 98-99.4 degrees Fahrenheit.