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The prospect of having a house full of adorable chihuahua puppies in the near future can be exciting, and a little scary if it’s your first time and you don’t know what to expect. Chihuahuas and dogs, in general, don’t usually have a lot of early pregnancy signs so, in the midst of your suspicion, I’m sure you’ll be asking, “how do I know if my chihuahua is pregnant?” Well, I’m here to help so sit back, relax and let’s figure out if she’s pregnant or not.
Pregnancy for Dogs
For dogs, the pregnancy period will usually last from 58 to 68 days depending on their breed, health and age. For chihuahuas, it lasts about 63 days with 21 days for each trimester. They also have three trimesters like humans. This period is measured from when they ovulate to when they give birth to their puppies.
There aren’t any early signs that are noticeable so you should take her to the veterinarian two to three weeks after mating so they can perform tests to see if she’s pregnant. If she is, your veterinarian is the best person to get advice from on what to expect, what she should eat, how often you should feed her and how much food she should eat. They will also determine when you’ll be coming in for checkups and will answer any other questions you might have.
Signs of Pregnancy
There are very few initial signs and you probably won’t have any idea or see any changes for the first few weeks. Other than a little weight gain in some of them, they’ll remain their adorable little selves.
By day 21, at the end of her first trimester, a blood test can be performed to check her hormone levels and confirm that she’s pregnant and at this point an ultrasound scan can be performed to visualize the puppies.
Your chihuahua might experience morning sickness during the third and fourth weeks but this only lasts a few days and doesn’t affect all chihuahuas. The signs of morning sickness are loss of appetite, vomiting and an unusual lack of energy or inactivity.
Between day 28 and 35, your veterinarian will be able to feel around her abdomen and confirm that there are puppies in her uterus and tell you how many they are. However, this should only be done by a trained professional because they’ll be about the size of walnuts around this time and handling them wrongly can injure them or even lead to a miscarriage.
A few days into the third trimester, around day 45, an x-ray can be performed and this is an opportunity for your veterinarian to inspect their bone structure and make sure they’re all growing fine and don’t have any defects. At this point they can also tell how many puppies she will give birth to. This is also very useful information for when she’s giving birth. Since you know the number of puppies, if she stops giving birth you’ll know whether they’re complete or if you need to be concerned.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, it’ll be harder for her to eat large meals so you should feed her smaller portions more often.
Because of their small size, chihuahuas will have to give birth through a caesarean section most times. This usually happens if the puppies are too big to fit through the birth canal. Chihuahuas have relatively big heads and because of their small bodies this is a common occurrence for them, especially for younger mothers. Your veterinarian will be able to check for this with an x-ray and schedule a caesarean section if one is required.
Signs of Labour in Dogs
You should take her temperature every morning during the final week of pregnancy. It should range between 101 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 and 39.4 degrees Celsius). If it drops by 1 degree or more then you should expect her to go into labour within the next 24 hours.
During stage one of labour, your chihuahua will be panting, crying, whining, pacing and having contractions. This usually lasts 6 to 12 hours and she will be generally restless. Her temperature will also drop to around 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2 degrees Celsius). This can last longer though so don’t be worried if you’re nearing the 24th hour and she still hasn’t gone into stage two.
After this, she will go into stage two which is when she’ll give birth. This usually lasts 2 to 4 hours and they will give birth to a puppy every 10 to 30 minutes. This interval and the total time spent in stage two might be longer for some dogs.
She will lie on her side and you will be able to see her pushing. If the pushing goes on for over an hour and she still hasn’t given birth to any new puppies then you should contact your veterinarian. If she also appears to be in more pain now than she was during the other individual deliveries then you should contact your veterinarian. They might be born head first or tail first but neither of them causes any problems.
Between each delivery, she might decide to rest. At this point you should be aware of how many puppies she’s going to have from the x-rays. These sessions of resting can last up to two hours but if it has gone on for much longer and her contractions and pushing haven’t started you should contact your veterinarian.
When each pup is delivered, she will tear their amniotic sac (a sac filled with fluid that protects the fetus when they’re in the womb) by herself and then chew off the umbilical cord. After this she will lick the puppy and this is a process of bonding with the puppies so you should let her do it uninterrupted. If its her first time it might take her a few minutes to properly respond but give her time to do so.
If she hasn’t done anything after 2 to 3 minutes, with clean hands, open the sac yourself and clean the puppy with a clean towel. Pulling the umbilical cord will injure the puppy so gently tie it into a knot about 1 inch (2.54 cm) from the puppy and then cut the far side with scissors.
You should try to get her to lick her puppy by putting them in front of her. You might have to do this multiple times if this is her first time.
This is the stage where the mother passes the placentas. The number of placentas should match the number of puppies and if there are any left in the uterus you should contact your veterinarian because this can lead to an infection. She might try to eat the placenta and this is totally normal and just her natural instinct. It’s harmless but don’t let her eat too many of them.
What if My Chihuahua is Overdue?
From days 68 to 70, if she still hasn’t gone into labour, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. It might not be anything serious but in a lot of cases the delay might be caused by almost dead or stillborn puppies. When she is overdue her placentas will begin to deteriorate because they only have a limited lifespan and this can lead to the death of the puppies if they aren’t saved on time. Your veterinarian will be able to tell what’s wrong and offer the best solution.
What if My Chihuahua Gives Birth Prematurely?
For premature puppies, a lot of care needs to be taken to ensure their survival. They will have to be fed by hand because they don’t have the instinct to suckle and if they need to be fed through a stomach tube, your veterinarian will show you what to do. They can easily be affected by the surrounding temperature and will quickly die of hyperthermia or hypothermia if left alone.
The temperature in the space they’re kept in should be 90 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) and they should have enough space to move around so that they can move towards or away from the heat source if they need to. Mothers usually reject premature puppies but when they can suckle by themselves and they’ve become stronger she will take over and care for them herself.
Now you should be able to tell if your chihuahua is pregnant and know what to expect and if you notice any strange behaviour or signs make sure you contact your veterinarian.