Are you considering breeding your Labrador? Is there a litter of Labrador puppies expected in the future? Do you want to get on a waiting list for a Labrador puppy in an upcoming litter?
Knowing how long labs are pregnant will help you prepare for the arrival of Labrador pups.
How Long Does It Take for a Lab to Have Puppies?
Labrador pregnancy is a crucial stage in the life of both mother and pups; while the total gestation period is 63 days or nine weeks, it is difficult to predict the exact due date. Unless you know your Lab’s ovulation date, you can expect your Lab to give birth between days 55 – 64 after mating.
Until then, there are various stages in the period that the Lab will go through. Knowing these stages will help you properly care for the pregnant Lab.
Weeks 1 – 2
In the first couple of weeks of gestation, the Lab will not likely show any symptoms. Similar to human pregnancy, this period is when the egg is being fertilized and in the beginning stages of developing the litter.
If you know your Lab has mated 7 – 14 days prior, you can predict that no visible pregnancy symptoms will show during this time. Instead, you can forecast that your Lab is possibly pregnant because of its recent mating.
Weeks 3 – 4
During week three of gestation, the embryos will attach to the uterus for implantation. Do not plan to change your dog’s diet at this point, and watch for an increase in appetite. An increased appetite at week three indicates that your Labrador is pregnant.
At week four, take your dog to the veterinarian to perform an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy. The ultrasound will reveal a closer estimation of the litter’s Size and any health complications with the litter or the mom.
When pregnancy has been confirmed, continue to exercise your dog but do not engage in forceful or aggressive activities.
It is common to play with your Lab through wrestling or tug-of-war. Exclude these activities from your lab routine that can lead to injury. Instead, continue to exercise your Lab through walks and low-impact activities.
Weeks 5 – 6
The second trimester of gestation begins at week five. During week five, the embryos are developed into fetuses.
The weight of the litter substantially increases during this time, which can also cause the Lab’s weight too. This stage is relatively short compared to the remainder of the gestation period.
At week six, around day 42, your Lab will enter the final trimester of pregnancy. The fetuses of the litter will resemble a dog.
You will need to adjust your Lab’s diet at this point in gestation. Your Lab will require more protein to accommodate the growing litter.
Weeks 7 – 8
At week seven, take the pregnant Lab to the veterinarian for a good check. The vet can check the litter for any evidence of parasites and treat it accordingly.
You will also notice your Lab may have begun shedding on her belly. This is standard preparation for the litter to the nurse.
Your vet may recommend preparing an area for your Lab to give birth at this stage. Dogs commonly have a premature birth at week seven, so it is best to prepare an area in case this happens.
Week eight is more evidence of impending delivery. Your Lab may have begun to lactate. Lactation usually begins the week before delivery. If lactation has not started, having a supplemental food source for the litter is imperative.
A dog may be unable to produce a sufficient milk supply for her litter. To ensure the litter receives an appropriate feeding, purchase a puppy meal replacement.
The 21st Century Essential Pet Puppy Meal Replacer Powder is a perfect meal substitute for ensuring the puppies receive the nutrients required for their development. You can add this powder to the mother’s food to help her milk supply.
If your Lab has not given birth yet, it should be any day now. You will notice your Lab may be irritable at this time. It would help if you established an area for your Lab to give birth. A room with a cardboard box is ideal.
The box should have layers of newspaper, towels, and blankets. It is imperative during this stage to keep your Lab calm and rested. Your Lab can easily feed off of your emotions and temperament. If you are stressed, she will be stressed.
Labor and delivery need to be as calm and relaxing as possible. Making your Lab comfortable will help give her a healthy, calm delivery.
Making the Labrador matriarch as comfortable and clean as possible should be the number one priority once the litter has been birthed. Continually remove dirty blankets or towels and replace them with clean ones.
This cycle will need to be frequently repeated to keep the mother happy and clean. This process lets you notice if the mother is discharging a dark fluid. A dark fluid accompanied by an odor can mean the mother has developed an infection.
The mother will need to rest with her puppies, so try not to overcrowd her or handle the puppies.
Recovery for the mother is typically quick. She may be pickier with her food, so check with your vet to determine the best food to feed your new Lab mother.
Once the mother has food she likes, she should increase her appetite to make up for the number of calories her puppies are consuming from her through her milk supply.
The mother should look happy, healthy, and alert! If this is not the case, contact your vet for treatment.
The nine weeks of your Lab’s gestation period will probably go by fairly quickly! Knowing what to expect during each weekly stage will help you give your Lab the proper care and prepare you for the upcoming litter of Labrador pups!
11 Ways to Tell if a Lab is Pregnant
How can you tell if your Labrador is pregnant? What should you do to prepare for the arrival of your new puppy? We will discuss knowing if a lab is pregnant, the symptoms of pregnancy in Labradors, and how to care for your pregnant Labrador. We will also provide some helpful tips on preparing for the arrival of your new puppy!
So, how can you tell if your Labrador is pregnant?
There are a few key signs to look out for:
1. Your dog’s nipples will become enlarged and may leak milk. This is due to the increased production of the hormone progesterone.
2. Your dog’s abdomen will swell as the puppies grow.
3. Your dog may gain weight, and her appetite may increase. This is normal and nothing to worry about. However, if you notice that she is gaining a lot of weight or her appetite is rising more than usual, you should take her to the vet to ensure everything is okay.
Additionally, if she starts to lose weight or her appetite decreases, this could be a sign of trouble, and you should also take her to the vet. Paying attention to your dog’s appetite and weight can help ensure a healthy pregnancy for her and her puppies.
4. You may notice your dog’s temperature drop a few days before she goes into labor.
This is perfectly normal, as her body is working hard to prepare for the upcoming labor. 5. Your dog may become more lethargic and sleepy as the due date approaches. During this time, ensuring that your dog has plenty of rest and a comfortable place to sleep is essential.
You may also want to increase her food intake slightly, as she may need the extra energy to care for her puppies once they’re born.
Ultimately, it’s essential to let your dog take things at her own pace during this time. She knows what’s best for her and her puppies, so trust that she’ll be ready when the time comes.
6. Your dog’s vulva may swell, and she may have a discharge.
7. Your dog may Nest – that is, she may start to collect soft bedding and carry it around in her mouth
8. Your dog’s behavior may change – she may become more affectionate or aggressive.
9. Your dog may have mood swings and become more sensitive to noise and touch.
10. Your dog’s sense of smell may become more acute.
11. Your dog may start to urinate more frequently.
How to Care for Your Labrador During Pregnancy
If you notice any of these signs, you must take your dog to the vet for confirmation of pregnancy. Your vet will be able to determine how many puppies your dog is carrying and when they are due.
Once you have confirmed that your Labrador is pregnant, there are a few things you will need to do to prepare for the arrival of your new puppies.
First, you must create a whelping box – a safe, warm place where your dog can deliver her puppies.
You will also need to ensure you have plenty of soft bedding, food, and water. Having a few toys on hand is also a good idea, as puppies love to play!
You will also need to take care of your dog’s diet during pregnancy. Your vet can recommend good quality puppy food to provide all the nutrients your dog needs during this time.
You should also avoid giving your dog any table scraps or human food, as this can cause problems for her and the puppies.
As your dog’s due date approaches, you must watch her closely. She may become more restless and may start to Nest. It is essential to let her do this, as it helps her to prepare for labor.
You should also ensure that you can take her to the vet if she goes into labor early or if anything seems wrong.
Once your puppies are born, they will need much care and attention. You will need to ensure they are kept warm and dry and fed and watered.
You will also need to clean them up after they go to the bathroom. Puppies are very delicate, so it is essential to handle them with care.
If you take good care of your pregnant Labrador and prepare for the arrival of your new puppies, everything should go smoothly! Congratulations on becoming a puppy parent!
How Many Puppies Do Labradors Have?
As a dog lover, you may wonder how many puppies are born to a pregnant female Labrador. The number of kittens born into a litter will vary, but luckily researchers provide us with the average litter size you should expect.
Labradors do not lose their famous charm even after they grow up, and the cuteness of their puppies is arguably unmatched among dog breeds.
So, how many puppies do Labradors give birth to? A study by the American Kennel Club reveals that Labradors typically give birth to five to ten puppies in a single litter. According to the same study, litters vary due to age, genetic diversity, Size, and diet. The first litter of a female Labrador usually is smaller than average.
How can you Determine your Labrador’s Litter Size?
As we have already stated, the number of puppies in a litter will significantly vary. Your pet can give birth to anywhere from one to even twelve puppies.
Your veterinarian can take an x-ray scan of the pregnant female to find out the exact number of puppies present.
The vet does this by counting the number of skeletons in her belly, which is a great way to figure out the actual litter size. This will help prepare the kennel size when the Labrador finally gives birth.
The Largest Labrador Litter on Record
Not that you have a general idea of how many puppies you should expect when your pet Lab gets pregnant, but you are probably asking yourself what the maximum number of puppies they can have is.
In 2014, a black Scottish Labrador named Anne shocked the vet when she safely delivered 15 puppies in all! A recent case happened in April 2020 when a labrador named Bella gave birth to 14 puppies, missing just one record set in 2014.
Factors Affecting Labrador Litter Size
In this section, we delve deeper into some of the more crucial factors that affect litter size.
Remember that several other factors, such as reproductive history, the dog’s environment, and breeding management, can also affect the litter size.
However, the significant factors that determine your Labrador’s litter size are;
Labradors usually maintain their fertility throughout their lives. However, the litter size decreases as they age, which is expected.
It is generally accepted that Labradors are most fertile between the ages of two and five. However, regardless of her age, the first litter is usually smaller than the subsequent ones.
2. Breed Size
Smaller breeds typically produce a litter with fewer puppies, while larger breeds give birth to bigger litter sizes, and this trend even applies to dogs of the same breed.
For example, a Labrador weighing 45 pounds may only give birth to five or six puppies, while another weighing 70 pounds may give birth to ten puppies or more.
3. Health and Nutrition
If your Labrador is healthy and in a happy environment, she is more likely to give birth to more healthy puppies.
The Labrador needs to be in top condition health-wise for her and her puppies to survive the process of whelping and birthing. The male Labrador should also be healthy to avoid any complications.
4. Gene Pool Diversity
A small gene pool is brought about when closely related dogs breed together. When you breed dogs from diverse genetic backgrounds, this results in bigger puppy litter. Similarly, a smaller genetic pool will result in fewer puppies.
What Steps can you Take to Increase Litter Size in Labradors?
The Size of a litter is usually out of your control, but when optimal conditions are in place, this can result in more puppies being born into a litter.
The first step is to feed your Labradors food that is healthy throughout their lives. Like humans, pregnancy will drain the Labrador’s body of vitamins, minerals, protein, and energy. A healthy diet will optimize the health of the Lab resulting in more puppies.
When a pregnant Labrador is fed a low-carb diet, this increases the chances of fetal death and an increased chance of stillbirths.
To avoid this, you should consult your vet to devise a meal plan that ensures the female Labrador gets enough macro and micronutrients.
Next, you want to ensure that your Labrador gets enough exercise and playtime. This will allow her to maintain a healthy and ideal body weight.