When your doggie is expecting, it is an exciting time! Just like humans, we await the arrival of a new life with great urgency; on the other hand, a little anxiety may accompany the wait, even with dogs. After all, you hope for a healthy delivery and healthy puppies! If you’ve recently discovered that your Shih Tzu is pregnant, you may be wondering how long your Shih Tzu will be pregnant. For dogs of all breeds, the average gestation period is 63 days.
Read on to learn more about Shih Tzu pregnancies and what to expect when your doggie is expecting.
How Will I Know My Shih Tzu Is Pregnant?
While the average gestation period for all dog breeds is 63 days, the number can vary by a few days. In other words, it’s normal for the gestation period to average 58 to 68 days. But how will you know if your Shih Tzu is pregnant in the first place?
For starters, before you notice the obvious physical changes, you’ll see a change in your Shih Tzu’s behavior. Your Shih Tzu may become more calm than normal or may even become more affectionate. She may also have an increased appetite, reduced physical activity, and morning sickness. If you suspect your Shih Tzu is pregnant, take her to the vet to be examined.
How Do Veterinarians Determine a Dog Pregnancy?
Unlike humans, there is no pregnancy test you can run out and buy for quick results. Instead, your veterinarian will perform specific diagnostic testing to determine if your doggie is, in fact, pregnant. Abdominal palpation is usually the first step your veterinarian will take, which means gently pressing on the abdomen to feel for swelling of the uterus or for fluid-like sacs (which will be the little ones!). This traditional method is not always accurate, especially if you don’t know the date your dog may have become pregnant, and further testing is usually in order. In that case, your veterinarian will perform an ultrasound, which is done around 25 to 35 days of gestation. Ultrasounds can detect heartbeats, which can also help determine how many pups will be in the litter.
Another test is a hormone test, which can be performed around 25 to 30 days of gestation. A simple blood test can determine your Shih Tzu’s hormone levels; it can also confirm that your dog is producing the hormone relaxin, which is only produced during pregnancy. If your doggie is producing relaxin, this is a fairly accurate validation of the pregnancy.
Lastly, x-rays may be taken, but x-rays are most effective in detecting a pregnancy around 55 days of the gestation period. The puppies’ skeletal frames will not pick up on an x-ray until the pregnancy has reached this time period.
How Will I Know My Shih Tzu Is Ready to Give Birth?
As the gestation period comes to a close, how will you know your Shih Tzu is ready to give birth? Thankfully, there are particular signs that will help you understand the big moment is approaching:
- A Sudden Drop in Temperature
Your dog’s normal temperature should be 100 to 101 degrees. Once the final week of pregnancy arrives, you should check your dog’s rectal temperature daily. Your dog’s temp will drop to 98 degrees just before the labor process. To ensure accuracy, recheck the temperature a couple of more times once your dog’s temp reaches 98 degrees; if the temp remains at 98 degrees, the labor should start in roughly 24 hours.
- No Appetite Along With Vomiting
When labor is 24 to 48 hours away, your Shih Tzu will have a decrease in appetite and may not eat altogether. Even if your Shih Tzu eats, the food will likely come back up. Expect a large bowel movement as well, as the puppies will put pressure on the internal organs as they get into the birthing position.
Your dog will likely pant throughout the labor process, and the panting will go in cycles followed by short pauses.
Your Shih Tzu will start collecting items in the home to take to her favorite spot or the spot she has chosen to give birth. Such items could include newspapers, a favorite blanket, one of your tee shirts, or even her favorite toys.
You’ll know if your dog is having anxiety and restlessness before the labor process begins. She may pace, pant, and be overall restless.
Your Shih Tzu will become cold due to a sudden rise in temperature before labor begins. Remember your dog’s temp will drop to roughly 98 degrees for a couple of days before labor starts, and the sudden change could make her cold and shiver.
As the puppies get into the birthing position, the abdomen will harden, which is when contractions usually begin.
How to Prepare for the Puppies’ Arrival
After the gestation period ends, the excitement (and nervousness) begins! But how do you prepare for the puppies’ arrival? Gathering the needed materials beforehand can aid in a smooth delivery. Here’s what you’ll need:
Once the puppies arrive, remove any dirty newspaper or towels inside the whelping box and place soft, padded bath mats so the pups have something soft to lie on. Put the heating pad in a separate box to place the puppies while you clean the whelping box. If you’re using a heating lamp, place it so that the box is heated. Don’t forget to take pictures!
Keeping Your Shih Tzu Healthy, Safe, & Happy Before & After Giving Birth
You’ll want to take extra care of your Shih Tzu while pregnant. Even though all dogs require a nutritionally complete and balanced diet, your pregnant Shih Tzu will require a diet of around 29% protein and 17% fat content. Ensure the protein is high-quality, and it should be the first ingredient listed. Low fiber content and soluble carbohydrates are important to provide adequate energy levels throughout the pregnancy, and calcium and phosphorous are vital for adequate milk production. You should strive for 1 to 1.8% of calcium and 0.8 to 1.6% of phosphorus intake.
After your Shih Tzu gives birth (postpartum care), keep her on a high-calorie diet during lactation. Keep mom and pups in a quiet, clean area with low traffic where mom can nurse and rest peacefully with her puppies. The newborn pups should nurse every 1 to 2 hours, and if they are not, contact your veterinarian to ensure mom is producing enough milk. You can always consult your veterinarian before your Shih Tzu gives birth to ensure you know what to do and how to prepare.
If you’re a Shih Tzu owner, now you know how long your female will be pregnant should this ever happen. We hope this article gives you needed and resourceful information on how to prepare for newborns and how to take care of mom and pups afterward. Remember to always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions or concerns.
Featured Image Credit: Sanyalux Srisurin, Shutterstock