Is there a litter of Labrador puppies expected in the future? Are you considering breeding your Labrador? 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.
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 the human gestation, this time 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 symptoms of pregnancy 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 is a sign that your Labrador is pregnant.
At week four, take your dog to the veterinarian to perform an ultrasound to confirm pregnancy. The ultrasound will be able to reveal a closer estimation of the size of the litter, as well as 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’s routine that can potentially lead to injury. Instead, continue to exercise your Lab through walks and low-impact activities.
Weeks 5 – 6
The second trimester of the 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 to increase. This stage is relatively short in comparison to the remainder of the gestation period.
At week six, which is around day 42, your Lab will enter the final trimester of pregnancy. The fetuses of the litter will resemble a dog.
At this point in gestation, you will need to adjust your Lab’s diet. Your Lab will require more protein in her diet to accommodate for the growing litter.
Weeks 7 – 8
At week seven, take the expectant Lab to the veterinarian for a good check. The vet will be able to check the litter for any evidence of parasites and treat accordingly. You will also notice your Lab may have begun shedding on her belly. This is normal preparation for the litter to the nurse.
Your vet may recommend preparing an area for your Lab to give birth at this stage. It is not uncommon for dogs to have a premature birth at week seven, so it is best to have an area prepared 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 begun, having a supplemental food source in place 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 the development. Additionally, you can also add this powder to the mother’s food to help with 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. You should have 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 also allows you to 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 she needs, as well as prepare you for the upcoming litter of Labrador pups!