As a responsible dog owner, it is always your duty to prevent any chance of accidental breeding in young bitches and wait for the right time to breed your dog. At the same time, we know that things don’t always go as planned at times and an unexpected pregnancy in your bitch might just be one of those cases.
But is pregnancy even possible in a 6 month old female dog?
Well, bitches can get pregnant right from her 6th month, although the recommended age for a dog to get pregnant is after her 2nd or 3rd heat, which is around 24 months of age. If a 6 month old dog gets pregnant, it would exert immense physical and mental distress on her, possibly leading to behavioral issues or birth complications and other physical problems.
So it’s best to wait till your dog has reached her full body size because by then she’ll be mature enough to handle the rigors of pregnancy. It is equally important to understand the sexual maturity of your dog to take an ideal decision. Consulting your vet in this regard is a good idea.
Understanding sexual maturity in female dogs
Although sexual maturity in female dogs usually begins at 6 to 12 months of age, it may differ with different breeds. Smaller breeds may attain sexual maturity at even 4 months while bigger ones may need up to 2 years to be fully matured.
There are certain signs to look out for if you want to check for your dog’s sexual maturity. Firstly, a female dog may have heat twice a year with roughly a 6 month gap. During this time, her vulva may begin to swell and she may start attracting males, although she may get aggressive if approached by a male. You may even notice discharges or she may start licking her vulva region. She might begin to urinate more frequently than normal.
There are four stages of the female heat season – proestrus (bleeding and swelling of the vulva), estrus (ready to mate and fertile), diestrus (not fertile anymore and may be pregnant), and anestrus (preparation before the next proestrus). So it’s important to be cautious about your dog’s behavior during this time and prevent any possible situation of her early pregnancy and if you do not plan to have puppies in the future consider spaying.
Can A 6 Month Old Dog Get Pregnant?
Technically speaking, yes, a bitch may get pregnant at 6 months of age because they generally attain sexual maturity by this time. But just because they can reproduce at this age doesn’t mean that they should. So most dog owners prefer to wait until the 2nd or 3rd menstruation cycle.
A 6 month old bitch is too young to handle pregnancy and is still growing, both physically and mentally. There may be chances of complications during birth or might even be dangerous for your bitch. And if the pregnancy occurs due to unplanned breeding, it often leads to undesirable traits and abandonment of puppies.
So, for the safety of your dog, you might prefer to wait for the right time to welcome puppies and consider your bitch’s health and mind before finding a suitable mate for her. Keeping her isolated during heat cycles, using dog diapers, constantly putting on the leash during walks, and restricting any contact with a potential mate are some useful tips.
What happens if a 6 month old dog gets pregnant?
Well, now let’s explore how an early pregnancy might affect your female fur baby and the various changes that you may notice.
1. Physical Stress And Pain
A 6 month old bitch is still too young to become a mother. It requires a lot of physical strength as well as nutrients to accommodate the puppies. Early pregnancies may lead to orthopedic problems like pre-eclampsia and deficiency of vitamins and minerals. The bitch might also not be physically strong enough to carry the weight of her unborn puppies.
2. Emotional Distress
Your bitch requires substantial mental maturity and preparedness before she is ready to nurture pups.
Pregnancy comes with a lot of hormonal changes that result in aggressive behavior in dogs and they may be confused about how to take up the responsibility of a mother.
Your pooch may not have the basic maternity skills required to handle pups and her negligence might lead to deaths among puppies in the extreme case. Insufficient hormonal release due to her young age could also make her irritable.
3. Unfavorable Genetics
Any random dog may have some genetic disorders that may not be prominent enough by the age of just 6 months. And letting your dog have pups at such a young age may lead to unwanted traits in the pups or similar genetic issues like their mother.
4. Low Puppy Immunity
It is often seen that early pregnancies lead to puppies that are more vulnerable to diseases. A puppy hugely depends on its mother’s antibodies for immunity that is transferred through the placenta and her first milk post birth called colostrum. If the mother herself is not fully immune, she wouldn’t be able to provide the necessary immunity to her puppies and hence their health would be affected.
Not just that, increased stress levels due to physical or mental strain release hormones like cortisol that alter the stress response system in puppies and also change the quality of maternal care that affect the later phases of puppy development.
5. Complications And Birth Risks
The body of a 6 month old bitch is too small to give space to growing pups. So chances of complications and premature deliveries are more in this case. It has also been noted that risks of stillbirth or neonatal deaths are more common in early pregnancies than in matured ones.
Will A 6 Month Old Dog Survive Pregnancy?
Even though pregnancy may be arduous for most 6 month old dogs, they have a fair chance of survival through the pregnancy if given proper veterinary attention. Smaller-sized dogs will have a greater chance of survival at this age of their life, however, it’s not a good idea to breed any dog this early. A 6 month old dog is equivalent to a 12 year old human, so technically she is way too young.
It would require a lot of care on your side for the mother as well as the puppies after birth. The resulting offspring may be smaller in size than the usual ones and would need to be given dietary supplements.
Lecithin or phosphatidylcholine is one such great option. It is known to prevent hip dysplasia in puppies’ later in their lives as well as increase their bone strength. Feel free to contact your vet for any advice in this regard.
How can I tell if my 6 month old dog is pregnant?
A dog’s gestation period lasts around 62-64 days or 2 months but may vary with breeds. If you trying to determine whether your female dog is pregnant, look out for the symptoms:
1. Enlarged Nipple Size
If you notice your dog’s nipples growing large or the areolas beginning to get around, it might indicate pregnancy. Also, the nipples may become slightly red due to increased blood flow or may leak milk in later pregnancy.
2. Swollen Abdomen
Of course, if your dog is expecting pups, her abdomen would become enlarged. You can take it as a sure test, especially if your dog has no other reason for a swollen belly and it’s time to take her to the vet if you observe this sign
3. Lethargy & Sluggishness
Your bitch may also get tired more easily and may have decreased activities. If your dog is already a couch potato, you would have to pay more attention to other pregnancy symptoms as well.
4. Nesting Behavior
During the last weeks of pregnancy, your dog’s maternal instincts kick in and she begins to prepare bedding by shredding any available material. You would need to give her a safe and isolated place during this time.
It is important to note that pregnant young pups tend to have less maternal instincts and it should not come as a surprise if you don’t see this behavior in your pregnant 6 month old pooch.
5. Behavioral Changes
A pregnant bitch may start being more cuddly with you or desire attention. However, they may also show signs of aggression and high irritability. This is a result of hormonal fluctuations. So, it’s best to keep children or other pets away from her if you see her in this shape.
Confirming The Pregnancy
If you want to confirm whether your dog is pregnant, the best way to go about it is to visit your vet and have her tested. These common pregnancy tests include ultrasonoscopy, abdominal Palpation, X-ray, MRI, and hormonal blood tests.
How to care for a pregnant young pooch
1. Proper nutrition
If your young bitch is pregnant, you would need to give her proper dog food that has passed the AAFCO test. Provide her with puppy food that is rich in nutrients but don’t give her dog food for bigger breeds as they may lack sufficient nutrients. Make sure you consult your vet before giving her any supplements.
It’s important for a pregnant dog to get some mild exercise during the first weeks of pregnancy. Taking her on her regular early morning walks or afternoon walks is sufficient exercise for a day. Do not force your dog if she is not willing to exercise.
You can also let her jog for the first 4 to 6 weeks. But, your dog needs rest from the 6th week of pregnancy, so you then need to skip the jogging part. Do not worry if your dog is too active in the first pregnancy weeks; it just means that she is doing well and fine and is happy. As her body grows heavier, she’ll naturally slow down.
3. Keeping other dogs away
If you feel like your dog is threatened by other dogs, respect her needs and keep her away from other dogs. This is more important during the last 3 weeks of pregnancy and the first 3 weeks after she welcomes her pups.
Also, there might be risks of exposing your dog to diseases in a crowded environment. So you need to put a stop to dog parks towards the delivery of pups as you would otherwise be risking the dog’s health and her puppies.
4. Making a whelping box
During the last phases of her pregnancy, your bitch would require a comfortable whelping box lined with soft materials. You could build one or even buy it. The box should be spacious enough for the dog and her newborn pups.
It’s better if you shift her to a familiar but isolated place to make her feel safe. Keep looking for any signs of complications and don’t wait to visit the vet if you see signs of illnesses.
5. Do Not Vaccinate, Only Deworm
While vaccination is an important requirement for any dog, vaccinating your dog during pregnancy can be dangerous for her and her unborn pups. However, frequent deworming during pregnancy is recommended for pregnant bitches.
You can also run a heartworm test to keep her and her pups healthy throughout pregnancy. Diseases like heartworm microfilaria can spread to the pups through the placenta, so make sure they get sufficient vet care.
Can a 6 month old male puppy get a female dog pregnant?
Yes, a 6 month old male puppy can get a female dog pregnant. But larger breeds attain sexual maturity at an older age.
Male dogs generally hit puberty by 6 months of age and they can impregnate a female right from the first puberty month. But one year of age is the best time for dogs to get ready for breeding. But it’s very important to fully understand your dog’s health and traits before letting him father pups.
A male dog attaining sexual maturity would show behavioral changes. He will start becoming territorial and marking his space. Also, he will become aggressive or will start humping more enthusiastically. He will also start shedding his soft puppy fur and grow adult fur.
Unless you talk to a vet about your dog’s breeding abilities or his true genetics, it’s better to wait before getting his pups home. You could also opt for neutering your dog if you don’t wanna let him have puppies.
So, basically a 6 month old pregnant dog needs a lot of care and patience while handling. You would need to provide her with all the necessary nutrients and exercise during her pregnancy.
Always keep in contact with your vet and update him on any issues that your dog may have. Make her comfortable at home and also allow her to adjust to her changing body.
But it’s better to spay your pooch to avoid any accidental pregnancy or if you don’t want puppies around. If you want to wait for your dog’s full maturity, you could keep her isolated during her heat cycles to avoid contact with males or keep her in diapers.
It’s always better to prevent early pregnancies than to worry about them later. As a responsible owner of your dog, you need to ensure that she is in the best of her health before breeding. After all, that’s what is best for your dear princess and her future puppies.