Knowing whether your Pitbull is pregnant or not isn’t always easy, particular during the early stages of pregnancy. However, there are some tips that breeders use to help tell if a Pitbull is pregnant or not; and I will share those with you today.
If you read on you will find out what the early gestation signs are, what the Pitbull pregnancy stages are, and how you can make her as comfortable as possible.
The early signs of a Pitbull pregnancy
- Your Pitbull’s appetite will decrease, and she might even miss some meals altogether.
- Your Pitbull’s stomach could get bigger, sometimes as soon as 14 days after insemination.
- Your vet could feel her belly, possibly feeling movements as soon as 20 to 30 days.
- Your Pitbull may exhibit behavioral changes including lethargy.
- Your Pitbull’s nipples might have become enlarged in readiness for nursing.
None of the methods above are fool-proof checks to tell whether your Pitbull is pregnant and expecting a litter of puppies though. Instead, vets and breeders rely on more scientific methods to test for pregnancy, including Pitbull ultrasounds, all of which you can see below.
How to tell if a Pitbull is pregnant
To check for certain if your Pitbull is pregnant, there are two methods which will offer 100% proof of pregnancy.
1. Pitbull ultrasound 25 days after mating
The fastest method for finding if your Pitbull has conceived is to get your vet to perform a Pitbull ultrasound. This scan can be first done 3 weeks after mating, but at this early stage it won’t always be 100% accurate – the best results come with an ultrasound at least 25 days after conception.
Ultrasounds are pain-free, but it can be a stressful occasion if your Pitbull doesn’t like the vets as their belly hair will be shaved off.
The costs of an ultrasound pregnancy check tend to range between the $300 to $500-dollar bracket (£230 to £380 GBP). It’s not a cheap method, and many people will simply wait until their Pitbull is showing more obvious signs of pregnancy rather than paying for a scan.
2. Blood sample at 5 weeks after mating
The second option for a pregnancy test is using a blood test. This can be performed after 5 weeks post mating and will help to detect a pregnancy hormone in your Pitbull.
It doesn’t cost as much as an ultrasound but isn’t always accurate when done too early on. For example, if your Pitbull has been pregnant for less than 35 days, it might flag up as being negative, even if she is pregnant.
What is the most reliable Pitbull pregnancy test then?
The most accurate way to know if your Pitbull is pregnant is the first option; the Pitbull ultrasound. However, it should only be done after 25 days post mating, otherwise it might throw up an inaccurate result.
One the best things about this type of pregnancy test is how you can see the developing puppies on the scan images. You might also be able to tell at this point how many puppies your Pitbull is expecting, although it might not always be an exact count due to their size and overlapping in the womb.
If you wait another 20 days, but day 45 you can also get an X-ray of the pregnant Pitbull. This will let the vet count the skulls in the womb, giving a 100% accuracy count on how many puppies are in the litter.
Pitbull pregnancy stages
Once you know your Pitbull is pregnant, the excitement can really start. But what can you expect from the Pitbull pregnancy stages? Here’s a quick overview of each stage.
The first month of your Pitbull’s pregnancy isn’t actually that interesting, and a lot of the time you might not even notice anything at all. Some owners won’t even know their Pitbull is pregnant without the aid of an ultrasound.
By day 7 of the pregnancy, Pitbull puppy embryos will get to the uterine horns. By 14 to 16 days the Pitbull embryos will have attached themselves into the lining of the mother’s uterus.
The 22nd day will typically see the Pitbull fetuses starting to form, and around the 29th day, vets are able to detect heart beats using an ultrasound scan.
Your Pitbull will now 3 weeks pregnant and should start showing some of the pregnancy signs I spoke of earlier. At this point those signs may even change a little to be:
- Your Pitbull might now be eating more than usual after the loss of appetite earlier in the pregnancy.
- Your Pitbull’s nipples should now be larger than they were before.
- Your Pitbull might change behavior, looking for comfort and cuddles with her owner.
- Your Pitbull might have a clear discharge during the 4th
- Your Pitbull will start to slow down and reduce her activity levels.
- Your Pitbull could even start showing signs of canine morning sickness.
Whilst these are typical signs of Pitbull pregnancy, not all Pitbulls will exhibit these. It’s still very early on in the pregnancy and can be hard to detect properly.
Handy Hint: Pitbulls can actually have false pregnancies. I wrote a guide which includes information on what to look for and how long a dog’s phantom pregnancy can last.
The second month is where the pregnancy signs start to accelerate with the eyelids and toes appearing on the fetuses between the 32nd and 35th day.
The development is very rapid, as by day 40, the Pitbull fetuses will have grown claws, and by day 45 have a skeletal form and even a coat.
You could ask your vet to perform an X-ray on the 50th day as it will be possible to use this to check how many puppies your Pitbull is expecting. It’s very exciting, as you can now plan for the litter size!
By the 58th day, your Pitbull will start her nesting behavior. This is where she starts looking for a safe and comfortable place in the house to give birth. Owners can help their dogs with added bedding and creating a more secure environment for them.
It should now be outwardly obvious that your Pitbull is pregnant, as she will certainly now be showing a rounder belly.
More signs of Pitbull pregnancy at this stage include:
- Your Pitbull will be eating a lot more than usual.
- Your Pitbull will then start to eat less again around the 45th
- Your Pitbull will gain significant weight.
- Your Pitbull will need to urinate more than usual.
- Your Pitbull will have a clear vaginal discharge.
- Your Pitbull’s belly will become firmer between the 45th and 50th
- Your Pitbull’s belly might show signs of movement by day 50.
The third month is when you can ratchet up the excitement. You will definitely now know that your Pitbull is pregnant, as there’s no mistaking it in this stage.
Yep, you guessed it, during this Pitbull pregnancy stage she will be giving birth. The puppies will start to move into position to arrive as by the 58th day they are almost completely formed – they will move into the birth canal for the last few days of pregnancy.
The signs during this stage you will start to see include:
- Her waist will get slimmer as the puppies move into position.
- She will not want to eat much around days 61 and 62.
- Her temperature will drop around 1 and 2 days before birth.
- She will start to get agitated and restless.
- She could even increase the nesting actions such as digging, pacing, panting, and shivers.
Pitbull pregnancy tips
Your Pitbull will be pregnant for between 58 and 68 days. The average length of a Pitbull pregnancy is about 63 days from the mating date to delivery – you can read more about that here.
There will be plenty of behavioral changes in your Pitbull too, not just physical ones. For example, as she enters the last 14 days of pregnancy you might see the following signs:
- Your Pitbull will want to cuddle you more.
- Your Pitbull won’t want to socialize with other dogs.
- Your Pitbull will be calmer and less excitable.
- Your Pitbull might appear to be uncomfortable.
- Your Pitbull might want to sleep more and even in different places.
How to prepare for a Pitbull pregnancy
As a breeder or owner, there are things you can also do to make sure your Pitbull is ready to have a comfortable pregnancy and then give birth safely. These preparation tips include:
- Change her diet after month 1 by adding puppy kibble. This is smaller and more nutritious for growing puppies.
- Don’t over-exert her and she will be more tired and have a lot less energy. Her breathing might also become strained.
- Help her with the nesting process, making up her crate as comfortable as possible and not at the last minute. She needs to feel safe and secure, and know that she has a place to give birth safely and securely.
How Pitbulls give birth
The most common way that a Pitbull will give birth is naturally. Some might require a c-section though. Here’s an overview of both aspects.
1. Natural birth
With a natural delivery you should look out for the warning signs that your Pitbull is ready to give birth to her litter.
If it’s time for your Pitbull to give birth, then make sure her nest is completely ready. You will notice that she will start to visit her nest several times, returning back and forth to the area, scraping the towels several times, and then finally settling down and panting like she’s just had a lot of exercise.
This is not a calm time for her at all, and you will notice heavy breathing and an increased heart rate. It can take up to 12 hours for the first of the puppies to appear.
After a puppy has been delivered, the Pitbull mother will bite at the sack and lick the excess away from the puppy. This lets the newborn start to breath in oxygen. Some owners might have to help with this if the mother struggles to do so.
You might even see the Pitbull mother eating the sack and umbilical cords. Don’t be alarmed, as they actually contain nutritional elements and it’s entirely instinctive.
Once the Pitbull puppy is out and moving, you can help my placing it onto the mother’s nipples to let them start feeding.
This technique is used in a small proportion of Pitbull pregnancies.
Your vet can help you to decide if this is the best option by using an X-ray to check how large the skulls are, and how many puppies are expected.
Pitbull c-sections can cost between $640 and $1,300 dollars (£500 and £1,000 GBP). There are some risks to this surgery as it will be performed under an anaesthetic.
When to worry
Whilst most births should go without a hitch (if recommended by a vet), there are warning signs that the delivery isn’t going to plan.
For example, if 10 hours have passed since she nested and sat down and you still haven’t seen a puppy, it could mean a blockage in the birth canal. This will then require an emergency c-section.
Knowing when your Pitbull is pregnant is absolutely essential. If you don’t know she’s expecting, you can’t prepare her for the birth, and could put her and the litter at risk of miscarriage.
When it comes to the birth itself, most breeders I have spoken recommend natural births.
If you do have a pregnant Pitbull, then I wish you and her all the best and would love to see some photos of the pups!
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Here are some more guides for owners of this breed.
Image in header via https://unsplash.com/photos/gxyfJQg7Lno