Pitbull puppies are adorable and the idea of having a bunch running around your house is undoubtedly exciting. If you think your Pitbull is pregnant, you are probably wondering about the signs and stages of pregnancy in Pitbulls. Is it the same as other dog pregnancies, or are there some breed-specific differences? If your Pitbull is about to become a mother, you want to care for her in the best way possible.
Learning about Pitbull pregnancy and its stages can provide insight into how to care for your pet. Keep reading to learn more, so the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Going In Heat
Pitbull pregnancies are the same as any other breed. At first, your Pitbull will go into heat. Like other dogs, Pitbulls reach sexual maturity at around six months of age and get their first period. 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 get pregnant, get her spayed or keep her away from male dogs. 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 start noticing some signs like:
A decrease in appetite
The stomach might appear slightly bigger than before
Behavioral changes including lethargy and sluggishness
The nipples become more prominent and turn a darker shade of red
Some of these signs can’t necessarily confirm your Pitbull’s pregnancy, so you can either 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 fairly expensive, many people just 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 for sure that your Pitbull is pregnant, you can learn more about what to expect. Dog pregnancies can last anywhere from 58-68 days, with the average being 63 days. This means that 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 develop in the following stages after conception:
The puppy embryos make their way 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. This is where unborn fetuses are provided nourishment.
Around the second week, the embryos attach to the lining of the uterus. This is where the embryos grow into fetuses and eventually puppies.
Around three weeks, the embryos start to develop into fetuses. Your veterinarian will be able to detect a heartbeat using an ultrasound scan around the fourth week.
Your Pitbull will regain her lost appetite and start eating more than usual during this time period. 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 go down. She will spend most of her time resting or sleeping. It is important that you cuddle and feed your Pitbull 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, where your Pitbull will begin looking for a safe and comfortable place to give birth to the litter. You should 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 often panting at this stage. Like humans, Pitbulls can give birth either naturally or through a C-section.
If your Pitbull will deliver the litter naturally, she will show signs of nesting 48 hours prior to 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 will seem distressed. She may start pacing, digging, shivering, and even vomiting. This is completely normal behavior 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 five to ten puppies in one litter. The mother will generally need a break after delivering half the litter. This break can last a while, up to four hours. After this time, your Pitbull will go back to pushing the rest of the puppies out.
While most Pitbulls easily 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. If your dog shows weak contractions with no signs of puppies, a C-section is preferable. 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 any 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 but there is no sign of a puppy.
It has been more than four hours since your Pitbull delivered a puppy and you know the litter has more.
One of the puppies is stuck or halfway out and your dog is unable to push it out.
Any other seemingly unusual symptoms that 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 some changes to ensure the health of the puppies.
You should feed your Pitbull a high-quality, balanced diet that contains all the necessary nutrients. When she starts lactating, it is best to switch to high-quality puppy food as it is more nourishing and easy to digest. Free-choice feeding is better than having a set number of meals a day during this time. Your Pitbull will require more food and get hungry frequently.
Exercise is also important to ensure 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. This can prevent your dog from contracting any illnesses or parasites that could harm the puppies.
False pregnancy, also called phantom pregnancy, pseudocyesis, and pseudopregnancy, can also occur and cause confusion for you and your Pitbull. A false pregnancy is when your dog is not actually pregnant but still shows signs of pregnancy. Knowing why it happens and how long it will last can help you determine if your Pitbull is actually pregnant or not.
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 a real 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:
Help her find a comfortable spot to make her nest. This can reduce her anxiety about giving birth to her new puppies.
Behavioral changes also accompany false pregnancies. Your pet may feel upset or confused by what is happening to her. 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.