When Can You Feel Puppies Move in Pregnant Dogs?

Last Updated on July, 2024

Hey there, fellow dog lovers! If you’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new litter of puppies, you’re probably brimming with excitement and curiosity about every aspect of the pregnancy. 

One of the most magical moments during this time is feeling those unborn puppies moving inside their mother’s belly. But you’re probably wondering exactly when can you feel puppies move. 

While you might want to be able to feel the puppies within the first few weeks, you will only be able to feel them around the 6th or 7th week of pregnancy.

In this article, we’re going to be covering all the areas of dog pregnancy, from how to spot the signs of pregnancy to the canine gestation timeline, and, of course, when you can feel the puppies inside your dog’s stomach. 

Let’s jump right in! 

Quick Summary

Generally, puppies can be felt moving inside their mother’s belly around the 6th or 7th week of pregnancy.

A dog’s pregnancy spans around 63 days and has various stages that involve important milestones such as the formation of fetuses, development of sex organs, and the eventual birth of the puppies. It is important to be aware of these stages to ensure proper care for the pregnant dog.

There are various signs and symptoms that can indicate a dog’s pregnancy, such as a growing belly, increased appetite, weight gain, behavioral changes, and reduced activity levels. It is also important to monitor these changes and provide proper care for the pregnant dog.

When Can You Feel Puppies Move in a Pregnant Dog? 

A pregnant brown dog laying on a wooden floor

A dog’s pregnancy typically spans around 63 days or eight to nine weeks. This timeframe can vary by a few days. 

So, when can you feel puppies move, you ask? Well, It becomes possible for you to feel puppies move in your pregnant dog’s uterus, usually at around six to seven weeks into her pregnancy.

For all expecting dog parents, the following canine gestation calendar is your trusty guide to knowing precisely when your dog is due and when you can feel puppies moving in your dog’s womb. 

Week-by-Week Canine Pregnancy Progression

week by week canine pregnancy progression calendar
credits: emergencyvetsusa.com

Week Zero to One: Conception

Breeding and within a short span, fertilization occurs during the first week. However, you won’t be able to pinpoint the exact moment of egg-sperm fusion.

To confirm this, you’ll need to consult a veterinarian who can perform a hormone test or ultrasound scan after week three to reveal the exciting news. 

Week Two: The Implantation of the Fertilized Egg Into the Uterus 

During the first two weeks of the gestation period, you’ll be able to detect subtle shifts in your dog’s behavior (as already discussed earlier).

These are the initial hints of pregnancy, where your dog might exhibit mood swings or even start mothering her toys in preparation for becoming a mother herself. 

Week Three: Growth of the Embryos 

During this week, the embryos continue to develop. Your pregnant dog might exhibit mood swings, an increase in appetite, and the growth of mammary glands.

It’s around this point, three weeks after the breeding, that you can officially confirm the pregnancy with a visit to the veterinarian. 

Week Four: The Formation of the Fetuses

Week four is where the embryos evolve into tiny fetuses, resembling miniature puppies in the making.

You will be able to see these fetuses in an ultrasound scan, and your veterinarian will be able to show you the various developing anatomical features in the mother’s womb.

Week Five: The Development of Sex Organs 

At five weeks, the fetuses begin to develop their reproductive organs. However, you would still have to wait patiently to determine their gender.

You will be able to see tiny legs and toes in an ultrasound scan, and your vet will be able to tell you how many puppies your dog is carrying. 

This week is also when you start to adjust your dog’s diet, serving smaller yet more frequent meals.

The key is to provide high-energy, calcium-rich food to support the developing bones of the puppies.

Opting for specialized dog food or nutrition designed for pregnant dogs is an excellent choice at this stage. 

A pregnant chihuahua dog being held by a woman

Week Six: Puppies Develop Their Coat Color

At six weeks, the puppies begin to determine their coat colors. They also form their eyelids, which remain sealed until after birth. 

As the puppies grow, the added pressure on your pregnant dog’s stomach can make her uncomfortable, occasionally leading to vomiting. 

Week Seven: You Can Feel the Puppies 

A pregnant dog being examined by a veterinarian

Finally, it’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. At seven weeks or the last trimester, you can feel puppies move in your pregnant dog.

Your vet will also be able to detect the puppies’ heartbeats and get an accurate count of how many your dog is carrying during these last weeks. 

How to Feel the Puppies: Feeling for the puppies requires abdominal palpation, but don’t worry, it’s pretty simple. Gently place your hands on each side of your dog’s abdomen and apply light pressure inwards.

You should be able to detect firm lumps in her lower body, which are the developing puppies. However, always handle this with utmost care as frequent palpation might cause injury. If your dog shows signs of discomfort, don’t persist.

Her mammary glands will finally develop, making it the perfect time to start preparing a whelping box for the birth of her pups. 

Week Eight: Development of Fur 

The puppies begin to grow their fur while you’ll be able to observe a lot of movement within your dog’s belly. This is the time to ensure that the whelping box is fully prepared because your dog will start seeking out a nesting spot to prepare for the arrival of her pups. 

Week Nine: Prepare for Birth 

The puppies are fully developed and finally ready to be born. If your dog is nearing her due date, she might look antsy and tense. She may then go into labor. 

Signs and Symptoms That Your Dog is Pregnant 

Two pictures of a brown pregnant dog laying on the ground outdoor

When you suspect that your dog might be pregnant, it’s natural to observe some shifts in her behavior during pregnancy. It brings many changes to her body, from hormonal shifts to physical transformations. 

In fact, a dog’s pregnancy shares more in common with a human pregnancy than you might think. So, what signs should you keep an eye out for to gauge the possibility of your dog being pregnant? 

We’re here to break it down for you. 

A Growing Belly 

Like humans, one of the most evident signs of pregnancy in your dog is her growing belly.

It becomes increasingly noticeable as the puppies she’s carrying within her develop and grow. 

If you’re witnessing your dog’s abdomen growing larger and you haven’t been overfeeding her, it’s a good idea to schedule a vet appointment.

A skilled veterinarian can confirm whether she’s indeed pregnant. 

However, keep in mind that pregnancy is not always the correct answer.

Your dog’s belly growing could signal potential issues like bloating or illness, making that vet visit a wise choice, regardless. 

A pregnant chihuahua dog being held in the arms of a woman

Increase in Nipple Size 

During pregnancy, your female dog’s nipples and breasts undergo some noticeable changes. They’ll likely increase in size, resulting in swollen nipples. There could also be some discharge of milky fluid from the nipples and some discoloration around the area. 

An Increase in Appetite 

a mother dog relaxing with her puppies in a bed

A pregnant dog may experience some appetite changes where she starts consuming more food than her usual portion. You can easily detect any changes to your dog’s appetite by keeping a close eye on her daily food intake. 

You might be surprised to learn that dogs can experience morning sickness, too, leading to bouts of vomiting and a temporary loss of appetite.

However, unlike humans who endure prolonged morning sickness, this phase in pregnant dogs typically lasts only a few days. 

Weight Gain 

Now, a little extra weight is nothing to worry about. Not only is it normal, but it is also a healthy sign. You can expect your pregnant dog to put on roughly 15% to 20% more weight than her pre-pregnancy size.

After all, puppies are being nurtured in your pregnant dog’s belly. While pregnancy boosts your dog’s appetite, overeating isn’t ideal.

Obesity is no joke when it comes to a pregnant dog and the puppies she’s carrying, as it can pose a severe risk. It is crucial to strike a balance between overeating and nourishing your pregnant dog. 

Behavioral Changes 

Your pregnant dog is very likely to undergo a personality shift due to her fluctuating hormone levels.

She might have moments where she is a little grumpy, which is a clear signal to give her some breathing room.

The less stress and commotion she deals with, the better for her and the puppies. 

It is also possible for pregnant dogs to become antisocial during this time.

That’s your cue to let friends and guests know she is not in the mood for fondling.

Understanding the situation is key so that you can adapt accordingly to ensure your dog’s comfort during her pregnancy. 

a mother beagle feeding its puppies outdoor

Reduced Activity Levels 

Your pregnant dog may put the breaks on her usual hyperactivity. You’ll likely see her slowing down, not just in speed but in overall activity compared to her pre-pregnant self. 

Now, don’t worry if she’s taking it easy, especially during the initial stages of pregnancy. However, it is crucial to keep her moving with regular, not overly strenuous, daily walks.

These don’t need to be marathon hikes, but should just be consistent. It’s all about maintaining the health of your pregnant dog. 

How to Care for a Pregnant Dog? 

A pregnant yellow labrador retriever is walking in the grass

You must keep a close eye on your dog and ensure her well-being throughout these nine weeks.

Here’s a checklist of advice to guide you:

  • Maintain a balanced diet for your pregnant dog. While special supplements aren’t necessary, opt for food with higher caloric and calcium content. Switching to dog food or food designed for pregnant dogs can easily meet these nutritional needs.
  • If her appetite increases in the coming weeks, consult your vet for guidance on the correct quantity to feed her. Instead of increasing meal sizes, it’s often better to distribute her food into more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day. 
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s activity level. Regular walks are important to keep her in good shape, but avoid allowing her to engage in strenuous activities and excessive jumping. 
  • Regular vet check-ups during pregnancy are crucial to ensure the normal development of the puppies. This ongoing care will help address any potential complications and ensure a healthy pregnancy for your dog. 

Why Can’t I Feel My Dog’s Puppies Moving? 

A dog is caring its newborn puppy

Feeling those tiny puppies wiggling inside your pregnant dog can be a heartwarming experience in the later stages of her pregnancy. However, there may be instances where you might not sense any movement at all.

Here are a few potential reasons: 

  • Large Litter: If your dog is expecting a larger litter, say seven or more pups, their movement might become more subtle or spaced out. This makes them harder to detect in her abdomen.
  • Puppy Nesting: As the pups grow, they tend to snuggle closely together, making it challenging to discern individual movements. 
  • Uterine Changes: The uterus thickens during the latter stages of pregnancy, potentially making it more challenging to pick up on individual fetal movements. 
  • Hand Sensitivity: Your ability to feel these subtle movements depends on your hand sensitivity. Not everyone may pick up on them. 

If you’re concerned about not feeling your dog’s pups move, keep an eye out for other signs of a healthy pregnancy, such as a glossy coat, weight gain, and shifts in appetite. You can also pay a visit to your vet for an ultrasound scan. 

Other guides and tools you might need when training your dog:

FAQs 

Yes, similar to how humans feel their babies kick, a pregnant dog is able to feel her puppies kick as well.

Yes, it is okay to touch or massage your pregnant dog. However, be careful not to apply too much pressure on her belly. Remember to be gentle, as your dog will appreciate it.

Final Note 

Remember to keep pampering your dog throughout her pregnancy, regularly check on your dog’s health at the vet, and keep watch for those telltale signs. 

In the end, it’s not just about when you can feel those puppies move– it’s about the miracle of life and the incredible journey you and your dog are embarking on together. 

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Laura Vinzy
Laura Vinzy is one of our contributors. She is also a certified professional dog trainer & currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two rescue dogs.

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