If your dog is expecting puppies, it can almost be as exciting as if you were expecting a child yourself. After all, our dogs are part of the family, so in a lot of ways when your dog has puppies it is just like becoming a grandparent for the first time.
When your dog is pregnant it can be tempting to smother them with kindness and attention. You might even find yourself constantly reaching for your dog’s tummy eager to feel the puppies growing inside. After all this is perfectly normal, pregnancy is one of the wonders of nature and so of course you want to be part of your dog’s journey to motherhood.
In many ways supporting your dog through pregnancy can be just as stressful as going through pregnancy yourself. So a lot of the common anxieties that you feel in human pregnancy, you will likely have about your dog’s pregnancy too. Including being able, or not being able, to feel the puppies move.
A lot of the time, it is perfectly normal not to feel your dog’s puppies moving about. But, for peace of mind we’ve put together this complete guide to when you may feel your dog’s puppies moving. So keep on reading.
Pregnancy in Dogs
Before we go any further, it is important to establish that pregnancy in dogs is very different to pregnancy in humans. Dogs are pregnant for a considerably shorter period, and they also tend to have large litters. Both of these factors will impact when you will feel the puppies moving.
During the first 3 weeks of pregnancy you will not feel the puppies moving. This is why it is only possible to tell if your dog is pregnant through changes in appetite, activity levels, nipple growth, and weight gain in the tummy area.
You will not feel your dog’s puppies moving until at least the 5-week mark. So let’s take a look at the stages of development building up to that.
3 Weeks Gestation
As we have said, at three weeks into your dog’s pregnancy it is very unlikely that you will feel any movement from the puppies. At this stage, all the puppies will measure less than 1 cm in length, so it is almost impossible for them to generate enough force for you to feel their movement from the outside.
However, 3 weeks gestation is usually when your dog’s pregnancy will be confirmed with a vet. They also will not be able to feel the puppies, but they will be able to detect them using an ultrasound device. This allows you to see your dog’s puppies on the screen, and is the first interaction that you will likely have with them.
4 Weeks Gestation
At this stage in your dog’s pregnancy, the chances of you feeling the puppies move are very slim. However, they will have done some significant growing between week 3-4. At week 3, the puppies will measure between 0.5 and 1 cm. By week 4 they will measure about 1.5 cm showing how quickly puppies develop in dog pregnancies.
5 Weeks Gestation
By week 5, the puppies inside your dog’s uterus are actually starting to look like dogs. They will begin developing whiskers, and claws, and paws which will allow your vet to scan your dog again to work out how many puppies she is expecting.
When your dog reaches 5 weeks, the chances of you feeling the puppies move also start to increase. At this point, the chance of you feeling the puppies move is still low, but it is possible. Some vets often press on a dog’s stomach to see if they can detect puppies, so there is a possibility that they will feel movement during this process. But the puppies are still very small, so the chances are very low.
6 Weeks Gestation
When your dog reaches 6 weeks, the chances of you feeling the puppies move increase significantly. At this point the puppies will begin to grow rapidly, often measuring more than 4.5 cm in length and weighing up to 6 grams. This increase in size means that you have a much better chance of detecting movement with your hand.
At this stage, your dog will also look visibly pregnant. The weight of the puppies in her stomach will cause her stomach to sway, and you will find that she spends a lot more time laying down than normal. Which gives you the perfect opportunity to feel the puppies move.
7 Weeks Gestation
If you haven’t managed to get a feel of the puppies moving, then 7 weeks is your best chance. At this point the puppies have grown significantly as they are coming towards the end of their development in your dog’s stomach and are ready to see the world.
At this stage, you might also be able to physically see the puppies moving around inside your dog’s stomach. They will now be very active, giving your dog very little peace, and you will continue to see them growing and moving around until your dog’s delivery date at 9 weeks.
When will I be able to feel the Puppies?
It is possible to detect the puppies in your dog’s belly as early as 5 weeks gestation. However, at this point, it is likely that only your vet will be able to feel them. But from 5 weeks onward, the chances of you feeling the puppies continue to rise. By 7 weeks you will not only be able to feel the puppies move, but you will also likely be able to see them moving simply by looking at your dog.
Do Puppies move a lot?
Generally speaking, yes, puppies are very active while they are in the womb. Some dogs have had litters of up to 24 puppies, and the average is anywhere between 1-12 puppies per litter. So it is likely that they will move around a lot.
However, there will be times when the puppies do not move at all. In all pregnancies, there will be moments of stillness. So it is very important that you do not immediately go into panic mode when you cannot feel the puppies moving. The chances are that they are simply just having a rest.
The amount of movement that the puppies make is likely to increase as the pregnancy advances. By this point, the puppies are pretty big, so any movement will be easily noticeable. In the last 24 hours building up to your dog’s birth period, you will likely see a lot of movement as the puppies will be getting themselves into the correct position to make their way into the world.
Can you always feel the Puppies move?
No, you will not always be able to feel the puppies move. In fact, in some pregnancies, there is a chance that you will not be able to feel the puppies moving at all throughout their development. Some dogs will have tight stomachs which will conceal the movement of the puppies.
If this is the case, your vet will likely pick this up in one of the early check-ups. It is nothing to worry about, it will simply mean that your dog will need more regular scans to ensure that the puppies are developing well throughout the 9 weeks.
How long is there between feeling the Puppies move and their Birth?
There is not a simple answer to this question as every dog’s pregnancy is different. The length of time between feeling the puppies and their birth can differ significantly depending on the breed of your dog, and any complications that might occur during the pregnancy.
With some larger breeds, you will be able to feel the puppies move simply by touching your dog’s stomach as early as 5 weeks. Whereas with smaller breeds, you might not be able to feel any movement until your dog reaches 7 weeks gestation.
When you feel the puppies move will not impact the birth of your dogs puppies, and most dogs will give birth on their due date at 9 weeks. So this means that the time between feeling the puppies and them being born can differ a lot. If you feel your dog’s puppies moving at 5 weeks gestation, then there will be approximately 4 weeks between this and their birth.
Whereas, if you do not feel the puppies move until 7 weeks, then it will only be 2 weeks before the puppies are born. So there really is no simple answer, it will all depend on how your dog’s pregnancy is advancing.
How do I know that all the Puppies have been Born?
In some cases, vets will struggle to pinpoint an exact number for the amount of puppies that your dog is going to have. This can make the period when they are giving birth a little tricky as you will not be able to count the puppies to know that they have all been born.
In this situation, the best way to check that all the puppies have been born is to gently press down on her stomach to see if you can feel any of the puppies still in her belly. If you can, then this means that there are more puppies waiting to be born.
In short, you will be able to feel your dog’s puppies move at any point past the 5 weeks mark. In some smaller breeds it will take a little longer for you to be able to feel the puppies. But by 7 weeks, you should be able to clearly feel movement from the puppies.