Many owners of female Chihuahuas will panic if their Chihuahua has an unplanned pregnancy because they have heard many rumors.
It is a fact that pregnancy for a Chihuahua can be risky. It is also a fact that a higher number of Chi’s must give birth via cesarean section.
This does not mean that your Chihuahua is going to have complications or that the outcome is going to be terrible! Many human females give birth via cesarean; in fact, some opt for it.
While it is true there are some risks to a Chihuahua pregnancy, there are ways to keep your little dog as safe and comfortable as possible. This can be a happy event, not a worrisome one.
Important Facts to Know
A female can become pregnant during the first heat cycle.
As soon as a female enters puberty – which will be her first heat cycle – she is able to conceive.
For toy breed dogs, this can be at a very young age; usually between the ages of 4 and 7 months old.
It is during the estrus phase of the cycle, which lasts between 5 days and 3 weeks, that the female is generally receptive to a male.
Within this time, there is a smaller window – usually between days 10 to 15 (starting to count from day 1 that discharge began) that eggs will drop and the female can become pregnant.
While breeders are encouraged to wait until the 2nd heat cycle to pair dogs, a Chihuahua can become pregnant during that first heat even if there is hardly any discharge.
Pregnancy can occur even if a tie does not appear successful.
Even if it appears that two dogs break early, a Chihuahua may become pregnant. Therefore, while many owners may believe that they stopped a mounting before anything happened, it may actually be too late.
A Chihuahua can become pregnant by two different dogs. This is known as a multi–sired litter.
The reason that this is possible is that with female canines, more than one ova (the eggs produced by the ovaries) remain available for several days. Hypothetically, a female may be mounted on day 1, with an egg being fertilized and then if mounted on day 3 by a different male, another egg may become fertilized.
A Chihuahua can become pregnant by a much larger dog.
This would make for a very dangerous pregnancy and delivery. To prevent unwanted conception, it is extremely important to keep a very close eye on a Chihuahua in heat. With hormones in full swing, a female that is receptive to males may actively seek them out. She may dart out of the house the moment that a door opens or try to escape from a fenced-in yard.
Additionally, males will seek her out. Small traces of blood that are deposited with each urination can carry the scent of a dog in heat for miles. When owners bring their female Chihuahuas outside for bathroom needs, the area should be scanned for any stray dogs.
The average size litter for Chihuahuas is 1 to 3 pups, though 5 or even 6 is not unheard of.
Signs of Pregnancy
Whether you fear that there may have been an unplanned tie or if you purposefully paired your Chihuahua, it will be important to look for signs and symptoms that she is pregnant so that you can begin offering gestation care.
With unplanned ties, this can be a nerve-racking time for owners. Perhaps your dog got out of the house while in heat and a male dog found her.
This is a common scenario in which most Chihuahua owners will panic. Now, you may be sitting, biting your nails and feeling as if each minute lasts an hour; while you wait to know if your Chihuahua is pregnant.
You could have an x-ray done (ultrasounds are rarely done for expecting dogs), however, it is usually expensive and you may want to reserve that money for when it is time to see how many puppies she will be having.
Here are the first signs that your Chihuahua is carrying pups:
- She will act lethargic, tired and not as energetic as usual
- She may have an upset stomach (the equivalent to human morning sickness). There may be a reluctance to eat and/or some light vomiting.
- Her stomach will enlarge very quickly, this happens much faster than with a human and faster than most other dog breeds
- Your chihuahua stomach will become firm.
- Her nipples will grow very large and previously recessed teats will emerge.
- She will clean herself more thoroughly than usual and appear to be “nesting”
- Timeline to keep in mind:
- 15 to 30 days after conception, the stomach will be visibly swollen.
- By day 45, x-rays will be able to clearly show the gestating puppies
- Labor will begin between days 60 and 65, with day 63 being the general length of pregnancy
- Getting Ready
- You should have a trusted and reliable veterinarian supervise the pregnancy. A pregnant Chihuahua will need extra help in staying healthy through this time.
A good vet will perform an x-ray (done more often than ultra-sounds) so that you know how many puppies will be born. This will be an important step so that you know all puppies have been pushed out.
From the time of conception to date of giving birth, your Chihuahua will be pregnant for 9 weeks (63 days). This, of course, is not a lot of time.
At the first signs of pregnancy with your dog, you should bring her to the vet.
Since the Chihuahua is very small and the heads of puppies are very large, there will need to be a determination regarding a possible cesarean section.
The veterinarian may not be sure and may need to wait until she is in heavy labor to then determine if she does. A vet who will supervise will most likely ask you to bring your Chihuahua into the clinic once she enters labor.
It will be normal for a pregnant Chihuahua to rest quite a bit and eat more than normal. Food should never be denied. She should be limited from any excessive exercise and not allowed to jump from heights. There may be some slight mood swings; generally, the typical change in behavior will be regarding an urge to retreat and to nest.
The whelping box and all needed supplies should be prepared well in advance. Plan to have an assistant with you and emergency numbers to call in case there are issues.
You will know that your Chihuahua is going to have puppies within 24 hours by knowing when her internal temperature drops below normal. Have your Chihuahua in an area where she feels safe and comfortable. Use a rectal or oral thermometer but use it rectally. You should lubricate it will and insert it about a half-inch. Leave it for three minutes. Your dog’s normal temperature should be between 101 and 102.5 Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.17 Celsius).
When your Chihuahua’s temperature drops below 100 F (37.77 C), she should deliver the Chihuahua pups in less than twenty-four hours. She may also vomit and cry during this stage of labor. While it is difficult to hear and watch your Chihuahua whimpering, you must remain strong for her. She will need your gentle, kind words of encouragement.
While whining is normal, do keep a close eye on the following signs of danger:
- Do please watch out for these warning signs. You will want to bring your Chihuahua to the vet ASAP if:
- She has been pregnant for more than 70 days
- It has been 24 hours since her temperature dropped and she is vomiting and/or crying but no puppies have come out
- One puppy came out, but it has been more than 2 hours without any more coming out (and you know she has more)
- She appears to be in a significant amount of pain
If she will not be having a Cesarean the birth should take place as follows:
- Each puppy is born in his or her own amniotic sac. Canine instinct drives the dam to lick this off the newborn and sometimes she will ingest it. This is nature’s way.
- If the sac is not removed within seconds of the puppy emerging, you must do this by gently tearing it near the chest and pull off and out over the head. Again, be very gentle.
- The sac may be a dark purplish color or it may be more translucent. The puppies may come out one right after the other or there may be a time span of up to 2 hours.
- As each puppy is born, the mother Chihuahua will lick the pup clean and also chew away at and possibly eat the umbilical cord.
Again, this is a natural instinct. When the dam licks the pup, she is also stimulating the newborn to breathe. During this time you can help clear away fluids by gently using an infant suction bulb to the mouth and nose. Using a clean soft and small towel, you can carefully wrap the newborn for a moment, gently wiping away fluids without impeding the dam’s instinct to lick.
Just as with humans, the placenta will need to be pushed out after the birthing. When the final puppy comes out, the placenta will soon follow. As you may have guessed, the mother Chihuahua may eat this as well. Whether the mother eats the sac, the cord or the placenta, do not stop her as it is a very strong inbred instinct for her to do so. If the dam does not chew the cord to release it, it must be cut with sterilized scissors approximately 1 inch from the stomach and tied off with sterilized thread if it is bleeding.
If a Cesarean is performed, your Chihuahua may experience fur loss as a result of the anesthetics. This is a normal reaction and in time, the coat will grow back. Due to changes in hormonal levels, a heavy shedding is to be expected after birthing a litter; this is known a ‘blowing the coat’.
Remember, if it was a rare occurrence for a Chihuahua to give birth and have healthy puppies, this breed would not be around! Archaeologists estimate that the Chi has been with us at least since 600 AD. Therefore, while there is always a risk of stillborn puppies or a need for medical intervention, most Chihuahuas will be just fine.
Canine False Pregnancies
A Chihuahua can sometimes have a false pregnancy. What does this mean? For reasons unknown, a female dog can have an imbalance of chemicals which triggers her body into “thinking” she is pregnant with puppies. When this happens, the belly can swell, the dog will have an increase in breast tissue and the dog may even begin to produce milk.
If this has happened to your Chihuahua, in about a month or so, these physical symptoms will begin to fade and all will return to normal.
Keeping Your Chihuahua Safe
Do not allow a un-spayed female to leave your sight for a moment. She may enter into her heat season before you notice the signs. Mating can occur if your dog is unsupervised for even a moment and there is a male dog in the area. Males will smell a female in the heat for up to 3 miles away. Unneutered male dogs that are allowed to roam, will sometimes “stake out” a home with a female dog in it, just waiting for an opportunity.
Therefore, if there is even a chance that this happened, it is very important to then bring your dog to the veterinarian. If she was mounted by another dog, and you were not aware of it, you also would not know what breed of dog paired with her.
This makes a vet check very important, as since the Chi is the smallest dog breed in the world, if a larger breed dog mated to her, you and your vet will want to know right away.