A few days before the heat starts, the first signs of the approaching heat are visible. The following days the bitch will start her heat with the first blood loss. On average, a heat lasts three weeks. A bitch can be covered after about 12 days. However, a large variety is known in the day on which the bitch should actually be covered (there are examples of cover on the 5th day but also on the 20th day).
To determine the correct maturity date, progesterone tests are made. This is done with the help of a blood test. A small amount of blood is taken and immediately examined in the laboratory. The result of this test comes in a value. A low value <2.5 means that the bitch is in heat, but ovulation has not yet taken place. Ovulation takes place somewhere between a value of 4 and 6. Coverage only takes place after ovulation has taken place.
If the progesterone value is so high that the bitch can be covered (cover is), we travel with the bitch to the male, sometimes we are here for several days. If the bitch is covered on the right day, one cover is sufficient. Nevertheless, several coverings are usually made. During the cover the male and bitch are coupled for some time; they are then locked together and can not come loose due to the swelling of the male genital organ. This takes 20 minutes on average. During the cover you see next to the tail of the male that he pumps and often you see that the bitch regularly tightens her belly and thus takes the seed towards her uterus.
First three weeks after the cover
Sometimes we see clear changes to the expectant mother in the first three weeks after the cover. This way the look in the eyes can change and they sleep more than usual. Some bitches suffer from morning sickness and refuse to eat or even have to vomit. After about 10 days some bitches are not so good for a day, the eggs are now nesting in the uterine wall.
Around the 28 day after the cover an ultrasound can be made to confirm the pregnancy. The veterinarian can now also give a real estimate of the number of puppies that the mother wears.
The belly starts to grow visibly
From the fourth week of gestation, the belly of the expectant mother begins to grow visibly. In the beginning this is still slow, but from the sixth week of gestation the belly grows rapidly larger and larger.
The last days
The bitches sleep a lot shortly before delivery. Twenty-four hours before the first puppy is born, most bitches have a temperature drop of at least 1 degree below average body temperature. When the delivery slowly begins to serve, the bitch does not want to eat anymore, she starts panting and shows restless behavior, especially digging in the whelping box. In nature young animals are naturally born in a hole in the ground and this natural behavior can still be found in dogs.
The pups are now slowly moving from the abdominal cavity to the birth canal. A few hours, sometimes several tens of minutes, before the first puppy is born, the membranes of the expectant mother break and she loses amniotic fluid. The placement weights will be replaced by persweeen. The bitch now drives the first puppy to the exit of the birth canal.
Puppies are viable from the 58th day. The puppies leave the birth canal in both head position and breech and are basically born in a membrane. It is important that this membrane is opened by the mother dog so that the puppy gets oxygen. The mother dog will also bite the umbilical cord. Here the owner can offer help. A bitch expecting a large litter usually has a break of one to several hours.
It depends on each bitch and breed how much time there is between the birth of each puppy. If it takes too long, this is often a sign that the puppy is not favorable and the birth canal can not get through. The veterinarian must then offer a solution with the help of wee generators, fetching the puppy or even caesarean section. Immediately after the birth, mother and pups need a lot of rest; a great physical effort has been made.