As the world’s smallest dog breed, chihuahuas are prone to putting on weight.
That’s why owners of female chihuahuas find it tricky to figure out if their chi is pregnant or just had a big dinner.
However, if you know the signs, it’s pretty easy to tell.
Once pregnancy is confirmed, it won’t be long until you see puppies!
How Long Is a Chihuahua Pregnant For?
The average gestation period for a chihuahua is 63 days but can be anywhere between 58-66 days.
This falls in line with the average gestation period for many other dog breeds. In terms of calendar days, it will take a little over two months from conception to birth.
Is My Chi Pregnant?
So, how can you tell if your Chihuahua is pregnant?
It may surprise you to learn that pregnant chihuahuas exhibit many of the same symptoms as pregnant humans, such as morning sickness, irritability, weight gain, and a larger appetite.
Other signs to look out for include:
- Swollen teats and/or vulva
- Pale gums
- Acting more affectionate
Calendar of Chihuahua Pregnancy Stages
Chihuahua won’t show many outward pregnancy symptoms for the first few weeks, but there’s plenty happening inside.
During this period, the fertilized egg will be making its way to becoming embedded in the mother’s uterine lining, and hormonal changes will be taking place.
Towards the end of the first month, a veterinarian will be able to confirm pregnancy. The most common methods of pregnancy testing are:
Blood tests can be performed as early as 22 days. The test is used to detect the hormone relaxin, which is only produced when a dog is pregnant.
Once the fetus takes shape and a heartbeat forms, a veterinarian can confirm pregnancy via ultrasound.
Ultrasound machines use sound to “see” inside a dog’s body, making it possible to estimate how many puppies she might be carrying.
Palpating entails feeling around the abdominal area for puppies.
Near the end of the first month, each puppy will be encased in its own fluid-filled amniotic sack and easy to distinguish from the surrounding soft tissue.
Palpation should only be performed by a veterinarian who can safely palpate without risking any damage to the puppies.
By the second month, chihuahuas begin showing symptoms of pregnancy.
Developmentally, the puppies will have eyelids, toenails, and the beginnings of a coat.
By day 50, their skeletons should be developed enough for an X-ray. X-rays are also helpful for counting puppies and seeing how they are positioned.
How Do I Care for a Pregnant Chihuahua?
Most healthy chihuahuas don’t need a lot of extra care, especially during the first month when there are little changes to be seen.
Responsible owners should still contact their vet to receive the best advice based on their dog’s individual needs.
You’ll probably want to know the usual litter size for Chihuahuas too.
Normal exercise is harmless and, in fact, encouraged during the first few weeks.
As her belly starts to show, she should shift to less strenuous activities, such as a short walk down the street.
A little bit of daily movement will maintain the pregnant chi’s energy and muscle tone, giving her a little boost once it comes time to deliver.
Expecting chihuahua can stay on the same diet for the first two trimesters of her pregnancy, as long as she’s fed high-quality dog food.
Her caloric needs will increase after about six weeks when the puppies begin to grow rapidly, and her body gets ready to produce milk.
At this point, there’s less room inside the chi’s body for the stomach to expand.
Instead of giving her more food at each meal, start introducing smaller, more frequent meals.
Her vet may also recommend supplementing meals with puppy food, which has more fat and protein than adult dog food.
A whelping box is simply the place where a dog will bed down and give birth.
For small breed dogs, a cozy cardboard box with soft bedding, like old towels and tee shirts, is enough to get the job done.
The ideal whelping room is someplace in the house that is quiet and has little foot-traffic.
A dining room or coat closet are some good examples. Place the whelping box in the whelping room and train the chihuahua to sleep there at night.
That way, she’ll know exactly where to go when she goes into labor.
Stages of Chihuahua Labor
Once labor starts, the first puppy might arrive as soon as three hours!
Because of this, it’s important to know the signs of labor so adequate preparations can be made.
Luckily, the signs are easy to recognize.
Here’s what to look for as delivery day draws near:
A dog’s normal rectal temperature should be between 100 and 102.5°F.
Once it drops to below 99°F, expect the dog to go into labor within the next 24 hours.
If the dog seems nervous and begins tearing up her bedding or pants excessively, it’s a good indication that she’s in the first stage of labor.
During this stage, the uterus is shifting, the cervix is dilating, and the restlessness can last for several hours.
Some dogs may have their waters break, just like humans. It doesn’t happen during every pregnancy.
If the chihuahua’s water has broken, it’s time to get her to the whelping box because the second stage of labor is about to start!
This stage is when a dog is in active labor. Visible contractions will begin, which many people describe as a “ripple.”
Once this happens, the first puppy usually makes an appearance within an hour.
Most dogs don’t need extra guidance beyond what instinct tells them to do.
However, owners should still monitor for complications, especially for a chihuahua giving birth for the first time.
It’s extremely important to clear the puppy’s nostrils and get it breathing oxygen as soon as possible.
Some first-time moms won’t break the amniotic sack quickly enough or will start at the tail-end rather than the head.
In these types of cases, it’s okay to jump in and help.
How Often Can a Chihuahua Get Pregnant?
On average, chihuahuas go into heat twice a year. That doesn’t mean they should be getting pregnant twice a year, though.
Vets recommend that a female chihuahua endure 2-3 pregnancies in her lifetime, spaced apart by at least 18 months so her body can heal.