If you’ve never spayed your female Jack Russell, then you’re probably wondering whether she could be pregnant. It’s a common question that many experienced owners have asked themselves.
This article will put your mind at ease if you worry about your Jack Russell having babies when you hadn’t planned it.
How to tell if your Jack Russell is pregnant
It should be pretty easy to tell whether they’re pregnant or not if you know what you’re looking for.
The most effective way to establish whether or not your Jack Russell is pregnant is to visit your veterinarian for a pregnancy test. The veterinarian can then confirm if your female dog is pregnant and if so when the litter is due.
Your vet will most likely determine the pregnancy using an ultrasound machine or by examining blood work.
If you suspect your female dog is pregnant, look out for these three signs.
1. Your dog tends to eat more than normal
If your dog has always been a pretty fussy eater, then there’s a fair chance that she could be pregnant. If this is the case, you may notice that her appetite has increased. She may also be more interested in food than usual.
2. Your female Jack Russell is ‘towing’ or dragging her rear end
When dogs are pregnant, they tend to walk more slowly and drag their rear ends when they walk across the ground. It’s also common for them to have particular places they like to frequent, even if this happens to be across the road or in front of a large group of people.
3. Your female dog has different behaviour patterns
A pregnant female will often sleep more and may avoid participating in certain activities. This happens because her body needs to prepare itself for the pregnancy. If she’s a particularly active dog, then you may notice that she’s more tired and less active.
During pregnancy, your Jack Russell may also have some other behaviours that are a little strange. For example, she may start licking herself more or even panting for no obvious reason.
How long is a Jack Russell pregnant for?
Female Jack Russells have a gestation period of 62 days, which means that they’re pregnant for approximately two months.
Stages of pregnancy in Jack Russells
Dogs have three stages of pregnancy, each lasting 21 days and referred to as trimesters.
Trimester One (Week 1 – 3)
You can start to see a difference in your female Jack Russell during this time. She may be more affectionate towards you and even snuggle up as if to say goodnight.
During this stage, you may notice that your dog cries more often as she’s on her own and may also have increased ‘maternal’ behaviour. It’s quite common for pregnant female dogs to be jealous of other dogs nearby or moving around.
This is also the time when your dog will begin to feel a bit groggy and tired as a result of all the biological changes that are taking place. It’s nice that your dog feels comfortable enough with you to show these signs!
Trimester Two (Week 4 – 6)
During this stage of pregnancy, it’s common for female dogs to have an increased appetite. Whether they’re a small dog or a large one, they’ll tend to eat more than normal. You’ll also see some physical changes in your dog as her abdomen begins to grow.
When you touch her belly, you should be able to feel what might feel like a small bump where the puppies are starting to develop.
Trimester Three (Week 7 – 9)
During week nine, you will definitely be able to feel your female dog’s puppies moving inside her body. You should be able to feel them with your hands if you place your hand gently on her abdomen. The puppies may begin to settle into a pattern of movement which will become easier to predict as the pregnancy progresses.
You will also notice that your dog looks visibly pregnant. She’ll have an obvious bump in her tummy where the puppies are growing and she may begin to whine or cry for no apparent reason. This is because she’s being affected by some hormone fluctuations.
How to care for your pregnant Jack Russell
Once you’ve been able to see a large bump in your dog’s belly, it’s time to start thinking about the best way to care for her and her dogs until they’re born.
1. Encourage your dog to rest as much as possible
The best way to do this is by encouraging her to sleep in a warm and quiet place. She may also enjoy cuddling up with you or another pet dog in the house. If there are young children around, they should be taught not to disturb or touch the female during this time as it can stress her out quite a lot and result in an unhealthy delivery for both mum and pups.
2. Keep your dog hydrated
Pregnant dogs need to drink more water than usual. Therefore, make sure that she has access to plenty of water at all times. You may also want to consider giving her an occasional bowl of cold water with ice cubes as this will help keep her cool during hot weather.
3. Keep the environment clean and quiet
Your female dog is vulnerable during this time so please try to reduce the risks for her and the puppies by making sure everything is as hygienic as possible in your home or garden where she spends her time.
4. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise
All dogs need exercise and this is no different for pregnant Jack Russells. However, it’s important to keep her energy levels at a healthy level as too much activity may cause her stress and increase the risk of injury.
Swimming or playing fetch in the garden are both ideal exercises that will allow her body to enjoy some movement without putting too much strain on her.
5. Make sure you visit the vet regularly
It’s essential that your vet knows about your dog being pregnant so that they can monitor the progress of the pregnancy and provide you with any advice regarding nutrition, hygiene, exercise, and other areas that may impact the puppies’ birth and development.
What you should feed your Jack Russell during pregnancy
Food is really important when it comes to pregnant Jack Russells and there’s no doubt that you should be feeding her plenty of high quality, good quality food if you want to keep her healthy and well throughout pregnancy. A healthy diet will also help the puppies to develop into strong healthy dogs.
You have a few options when it comes to feeding your dog. You can either choose to feed her a good quality pet food or you can opt for something that’s homemade. Ideally, you should be feeding her some cooked meat and vegetables.
During pregnancy, it’s important that she gets plenty of taurine as well as other nutrients and vitamins that are important for the development of puppies.
What are the signs of labour?
If your female Jack Russell is pregnant and about to give birth, there are some signs which will help you work out when labour will begin.
Severe restlessness from your dog is a sign that labour may be imminent. If you’ve noticed that she’s been restless and uncomfortable for a while, then it’s pretty likely that she’ll be giving birth soon.
2. Elevated body temperature
You may also notice some changes in your dog’s behaviour. For example, she may have a slightly elevated body temperature and will start to pant.
3. Decreased Appetite
She will avoid food and you may find that she becomes a little bit more irritable than usual. This is because of the change in hormone levels that occur before the birth of pups. Her appetite may also decrease so make sure you offer her something tasty to eat in order to encourage her to eat and get her strength back up for labour.
4. Vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge is common in dogs who are about to give birth.
How many puppies do Jack Russells have in a litter?
On average you’ll find that around 6 to 12 puppies are produced from each breeding, and childbirth can last anything from 12 to 24 hours long.
Preparing for the birth of the puppies
You’ll need to prepare for the birth of the puppies in order to ensure that everything goes according to plan.
If you’re planning on having a vet present for the birth, make sure that they know what time the labour is due so they can arrive at the right moment.
If possible, you should make sure that your female Jack Russell is comfortable before the birth of the puppies. You may need to change her to cleaner bedding, remove any tall furniture from the house and consider putting some furniture out of reach if she does jump up onto it in an attempt to give birth.
Make sure the area where she spends most time is quiet and without distractions. If your dog is more reluctant than usual to go out, then you should also consider restricting her movement to a smaller area of the house so she has peace and quiet while she prepares for birth.
Finally, it’s a good idea to consider getting some towels or sheets ready for use after the birth of the puppies. Cleaning up after female dogs is not always fun and there are bound to be some accidents that will need cleaning up.
Therefore, it will be helpful if you have everything you need ready in advance instead of having to run around looking for things when it happens.
The above information should help you to understand whether your female Jack Russell is pregnant or not. It’s important that you monitor your female dog closely throughout her pregnancy as it’s essential that she’s provided with all the care and attention she needs during this period.
It’s always a good idea to have your vet check her over every few weeks to make sure that she’s well in case any problems start occurring and putting her and the puppies at risk.