The Last Week Of A Great Dane’s Pregnancy
We are expecting puppies and this final week is always an exciting and anxious time! Not only does the Dane lose sleep but I lose my fair share too. For the curious, I have put together this time-line of one of my Great Dane’s final week of pregnancy.
As you can see in the picture above at 52 days pregnant, Aspen is already huge. She’s an over achiever when it comes to milk supply. During the final two weeks of her last pregnancy, she was gushing milk all over the place on a daily basis. This time has been a little cleaner and she isn’t sleeping in milk puddles. At least, not yet.
At 52 days, it is easy to feel the puppies moving around in her belly. As the days go by, they will become stronger and simply looking at her belly will be enough to see movement. Soon it will look as though aliens are trying to escape from the sides of her stomach. Having 3 kids of my own, I know that it also FEELS like that to her.
If there is a big difference in the size of her belly, it’s hard to notice because her teats are so big and full. Of course, there IS a change because the puppies continue to grow in this final week but in her specific case, it’s hard to see the difference.
Her baseline evening temperature is 100. – 100.4 this evening. I begin taking her temperature daily, at first. In the beginning of the final week I start daily to get a baseline reading of where her “normal” pregnant temperature is so that I can monitor when the temperature drops. This is because, when there is a drop of over 1 degree, labor will usually begin within 24 hours. Once the temperature drops below 90 degrees, we are about a few to 12 hours away. Keeping daily record of her temperatures helps to give me an idea as what her normal readings are. As the week progresses, I begin taking her temperature more often. I want to make sure that we are both home and in our whelping spot in plenty of time for her to get relaxed and comfortable.
She’s been coming to work with me this week so that I can see how she’s feeling and acting. Even though it’s a few days early, I want to be able to monitor her at all times. Leaving her at home isn’t ideal because she can’t stay inside. There’s too much pressure on her bladder for her to stay indoors unattended for too long. Leaving her outside wouldn’t be a problem at this stage IF she weren’t nesting all over my yard and digging up holes. It’s best for us both if she’s with me at work to keep us both happy.
Other natural and yes, gross, things are also happening.
A pregnant dog’s vulva remains swollen similar to the time she was in heat, throughout the entire pregnancy. Towards the end of pregnancy, the vulva gets puffier in preparation for birth.
This is a picture of Aspen’s vulva at day 55 of pregnancy. It is almost double the size it was during the previous weeks of her pregnancy. She began having a discharge (the mucus plug that blocks the cervix during pregnancy) in the last couple of days. This means that she’s having minor contractions and her cervix has begun to dilate.
Yes, dogs do have early contractions, just like humans. We call them Braxton Hicks and a dog’s body undergoes a similar process in order to prepare for whelping.
As I type this at 57 days, Aspen has been having mild “false labor” or Braxton Hicks contractions. I am aware of when they begin because her breathing changes slightly and if I watch closely, I can see her stomach knot or bunch up with a little contraction. Sometimes she will move and change positions or wake up and become alert as they happen.
Getting into and out of the car for the ride to work today was more challenging. She’s been jumping right in and out but today it took us a few minutes to get in the car. She looked at the seat as if to say, “Uh? I don’t think I can.” I gave her a gentle boost and off we went. Getting out of the car required a little extra “happy” voice encouragement but we managed.
Her naps are shorter than before. Constantly wiggling babies and random contractions make getting in a good long snooze impossible.
About 6 days left to go!
We stayed home from work on day 58 because when I woke up and got ready, I checked her temp. It was 99.1 and that’s very close to dropping below 90 degrees, which is what I’m looking for.
In the end, it turned out day 58 was not the day but she was very tired, slept a lot, didn’t eat much, and had up and down temperatures but never dropped below 99 degrees today.
The picture is dark because it’s late and she’s resting when it was taken. No longer stretched out every time she sleeps, she’s feeling discomfort from time to time and sleeping in the fetal position until it’s no longer comfortable.
9AM temp 99.5
As you can see, her teats are low leaking a little.
Massive shedding has begun. This happens because the pregnant dog sheds hair on the belly and teats to prepare for nursing. It can happen over the course of many days, as Aspen’s was but it can also happen in spurts, like this picture shows.
4AM temp 98.8
Here we have the drop that I’ve been waiting for! The hormones that start labor effect a pregnant dog’s body temperature. The drop means the hormones have started and when the temp begins to RISE again, labor is kicked in. We should be in labor within the next 24 hours.
9AM temp 99.3
The temperature is on the rise and we will have puppies within 12 hours, max.
She’s had loose bowels all morning and throughout the day. That’s the body’s way of preparing for the second stage of labor when the bitch begins pushing.
She’s been off food all day and has not had a meal since 6:30 yesterday evening (day 60)
In the above picture you see her nesting, getting a spot ready for her babies.
3:30 PM She began pushing.
Labor was from 3:30 pm on day 61 through around 2AM on day 62.
7 puppies were born alive and the 8th was stillborn.
Article By: Monica Beall of DFWGreatDanes.com