Having a bunch of adorable Pitbull puppies running around the house is exciting and scary at the same time. If you suspect your Pitbull is pregnant, you may wonder if the signs and stages of pregnancy in a Pitbull are the same as in other breeds. Are there breed-specific differences? You want to care for your pregnant pittie in the best way possible.
Learning about Pitbull pregnancy and its stages provides insight into how to best care for your pet. To gain that insight, keep reading.
Going In Heat
Pitbull pregnancies are the same as any other breed. At first, your Pitbull will go into heat. Pitbulls reach sexual maturity at around six months, just like other breeds of their size. Your pet will stay in heat for two to three weeks, during which they will bleed, and their vulva might swell.
Your pet will look for a mate during heat and engage in behaviors to attract male dogs. If you don’t want your Pitbull to become pregnant, have her spayed. If you want a litter of Pitbull puppies, this is when breeding should occur. A male dog that is six months of age can impregnate your pet.
Early Signs of Pregnancy
Similar to humans, it is impossible to determine if your Pitbull is pregnant until it has been a month since the conception. However, in the first two to three weeks, you may notice signs like:
- A decrease in appetite
- The stomach might appear slightly bigger than before
- Morning sickness
- Behavioral changes including lethargy and sluggishness
- The nipples become more prominent and turn a darker shade of red
These signs don’t necessarily confirm your Pitbull’s pregnancy, so you can opt for an ultrasound or blood test depending on how long it has been. The most reliable method to confirm your Pitbull’s pregnancy is to have your vet perform an ultrasound. Ultrasounds are painless but could be stressful for your pet. You can have an ultrasound done around three weeks, but results are more accurate around 25 days. Since ultrasounds are relatively expensive, many people prefer to wait until signs of pregnancy become more evident.
Another method to confirm your Pitbull’s pregnancy is a blood test, which can be performed five months after the conception. It isn’t as costly as an ultrasound, but the results are not always accurate. The blood test reveals if your Pitbull is secreting pregnancy hormones.
Ultrasounds are the most reliable way to confirm your Pitbull’s pregnancy. They will also provide information about how many puppies your pet is expecting. If you want to know the size of the litter, it is better to wait two months and have your veterinarian perform an X-ray.
Stages of Pregnancy
Once you know that your Pitbull is pregnant, it’s a good idea to learn more about what to expect. Dog pregnancies can last anywhere from 58-68 days, with the average being 63 days. Your Pitbull will probably stay pregnant for two months before delivering the litter.
There aren’t many obvious signs in the first month of Pitbull pregnancy. You might not even realize your dog is pregnant. Most pet parents cannot determine if their dog is pregnant without an ultrasound at this stage. However, the puppies are developing:
- The puppy embryos migrate to the uterine horns in the first week. In dogs and cats, the uterine horns are the two tubes that join with the uterine body for nourishment.
- Around the second week, the embryos attach to the uterine lining, where they will grow into fetuses and eventually puppies.
- Around three weeks, the embryos start to develop into fetuses. Your veterinarian can detect a heartbeat using an ultrasound scan around the fourth week.
- Your Pitbull will regain her lost appetite and start eating more than usual. Behavioral changes can also occur, and your Pitbull will likely become very affectionate. Along with frequently asking for cuddles, your Pitbull’s activity levels will also decrease. She will spend most of her time resting or sleeping. It’s vital for the health of the mother and her unborn pups that you feed her a nourishing diet during this time.
- The signs of pregnancy become much more evident in the second month. Soon after the end of the first month, the eyelids and toes of the puppies start to appear.
- At this stage, growth occurs very rapidly, and by the sixth to seventh week, Pitbull fetuses grow claws and a coat.
- Near the end of the second month, around the eighth week, you can have your veterinarian perform an X-ray to determine the size of the litter. By counting the skulls, your veterinarian can determine the number of puppies in the litter.
- Nesting behavior typically starts around the ninth week, when your Pitbull will begin looking for a safe and comfortable place to give birth to the litter. Be prepared to provide her with extra bedding and a secure environment for the birthing process.
- During this stage, your Pitbull will be eating much more than usual. The pregnancy will become evident by the size and firmness of her belly. Around the eighth week, you will be able to see the puppies moving. It is best to keep your Pitbull’s litter box close to her nest since she will need to pee more frequently.
After two months, or around the 58th day, your Pitbull will reach the birth stage. The puppies will move from the uterus to the birth canal for the last few days of the pregnancy. During this stage, your Pitbull will start eating less and feel nauseous. She will also become agitated and restless, engaging in more nesting behaviors. You will notice her digging, pacing, and frequently panting during this stage. Like humans, Pitbulls can give birth either naturally or through a C-section.
Your Pitbull will show increased signs of nesting 48 hours before the onset of labor. These signs include scratching, pacing, panting, and looking for a comfortable spot to give birth. You should keep a thermometer and measure your Pitbull’s rectal temperature when you think she is about to give birth. The temperature will drop by two degrees 24 hours before labor begins.
During the first stage of labor, uterine contractions begin. These contractions can be uncomfortable, and your dog may seem distressed, especially if this is her first litter. She may start pacing, digging, shivering, and even vomiting, which is expected and usually lasts six to twelve hours. When the cervix dilates, your Pitbull will start pushing and straining to deliver the pups. She will generally push for ten to thirty minutes for each puppy.
Pitbulls have between five and ten puppies in a litter, and the mother will generally need a break after delivering half the litter. This break can last up to four hours before she delivers the rest of the pups.
While most Pitbulls can deliver their puppies naturally, some might require a C-section. Your veterinarian can help you determine if it is a suitable option for your dog. C-section deliveries can be expensive, and the surgery poses some risks. A C-section is preferable if your dog shows weak contractions with no signs of puppies. Consult your veterinarian during the eighth week of pregnancy to determine if your dog will need a C-section.
If your Pitbull is giving birth at home, you should be mindful of any worrying signs. While most Pitbulls don’t experience complications during the birthing process, unexpected circumstances can occur. You should contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of the following:
- Your Pitbull does not go into labor even though her temperature dropped 24 hours ago.
- She appears to be in pain or very uncomfortable.
- Your Pitbull has been pregnant for more than 68 days.
- She has been straining/pushing for 45 minutes with no sign of a puppy.
- It has been four hours since your Pitbull delivered a puppy, and you know there are more inside.
- One of the puppies is stuck or halfway out, and your dog cannot push it out.
- Any other seemingly unusual symptoms cause you to worry about the mother or pups.
It is best to stay in touch with your veterinarian 48 hours before the onset of labor. Keep an eye on your dog but don’t stimulate her too much. She is already agitated, so refrain from petting or reassuring her excessively. Most Pitbulls can deliver their puppies without assistance but watch out for any worrying signs.
Taking Care Of Your Pregnant Pitbull
When your Pitbull is pregnant, you are not responsible for one dog but her entire litter. In this case, you will need to make changes to ensure the puppies’ health.
Feed your Pitbull a high-quality, balanced diet containing all the necessary nutrients. When she starts lactating, switching to high-quality puppy food is best as it is more nourishing and easy to digest. Free-choice feeding is better than having a set number of meals a day. Your Pitbull will require more food and get hungry frequently.
Exercise is also essential so your Pitbull can deliver the puppies. Since she will feel lethargic, stick to walks and light playtime. During the last three weeks of pregnancy, indoor exercise is a better option to prevent your dog from contracting any illnesses or parasites that could harm the puppies.
False pregnancy, also called phantom pregnancy, pseudocyesis, and pseudopregnancy, is when your dog shows signs of pregnancy but isn’t. Knowing why it happens and how long it will last can help you determine if your Pitbull is pregnant.
False pregnancies occur when the body believes it is pregnant. They usually occur due to hormonal imbalances and can happen one to two months after your dog’s last heat cycle. The duration of the false pregnancy can be one to three weeks. If it lasts longer than that, you should consult your veterinarian.
Dogs with false pregnancies will show signs similar to actual pregnancy, such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Behavioral changes
- Nesting behavior
- Swollen nipples
- Morning sickness
- Growth in the stomach’s size
False pregnancies are prevalent in dogs, and research indicates that at least 50% of un-spayed dogs can experience it at least once in their lifetime. Certain breeds are also at a higher risk for experiencing this condition. Despite their prevalence, false pregnancies are not harmful to your pet and usually resolve within a month. However, they can still cause agitation, restlessness, and discomfort, so you should pay attention to your pet.
How To Help Your Pet Through A False Pregnancy
If you are aware that your pet is suffering from a false pregnancy, you should use the following tips to care for her:
To reduce her anxiety about giving birth, help her find a comfortable spot to make her nest.
Behavioral changes also accompany false pregnancies. Your pet may feel upset or confused by what is happening. As a result, she could become fearful or aggressive. Be patient with your dog and provide cuddles and reassurance often.
Frequent exercise and mental stimulation are the best way to take your dog’s mind off her false pregnancy. Exercise can also reduce the symptoms and resolve the condition sooner.
Pitbulls with false pregnancies can also develop swollen nipples and start lactating. Consult your veterinarian about the best possible way to deal with this. Some vets may prescribe medicines to reduce milk production.
The most effective way to prevent false pregnancies is to spay your Pitbull. False pregnancies do not occur in spayed dogs since they do not experience heat cycles.
Most false pregnancies are mild and only last two to three weeks. If your pet appears to be physically ill or severe behavioral changes occur, consult your veterinarian about treatment options.