Can a Dog Get Pregnant 5 Days After Ovulation? The Truth Revealed


Understanding the timing of ovulation and conception in dogs is important for breeders and pet owners alike. Knowing when a dog can get pregnant and the typical gestation period can help owners prepare for the arrival of puppies. This article will examine how long after ovulation a dog can get pregnant, the typical fertile window, signs of pregnancy, and how to confirm and care for a pregnant dog.

The Canine Estrous Cycle

The canine estrous cycle is the reproductive cycle that occurs in female dogs. It consists of four distinct stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. The entire cycle lasts anywhere from 4 to 12 months, with most dogs averaging a 6 month cycle length.

During proestrus, the female’s vulva will swell and she will have bloody vaginal discharge for around 9 days on average. This stage is driven by rising estrogen levels which cause changes in the reproductive tract. The dog will not allow breeding during this stage.

Estrus is the next phase when the female is receptive to the male and can become pregnant. There is a change to clear and watery vaginal discharge and the vulva remains swollen. This stage lasts around 9 days on average but can vary from 3 to 21 days. Ovulation occurs towards the end of this phase.

female dog with swollen vulva as enters estrus phase

Diestrus is the longest stage lasting 60-90 days on average. The discharge changes again to pink or straw colored and the vulva shrinks back to normal size. The female will no longer allow breeding. If conception occurred, pregnancy begins during this stage.

Finally, anestrus is a period of reproductive quiescence when hormone levels are low. The female has no discharge and does not permit breeding. This stage lasts 3 to 4 months on average before the next cycle begins.

The length of each stage can vary but follows this consistent sequence. Monitoring the changes helps determine when a female dog can get pregnant.

When Does Ovulation Occur?

Ovulation in dogs typically occurs during the estrus phase of the reproductive cycle, which comes after the proestrus phase. According to the AKC Canine Health Foundation, the timing of ovulation is closely tied to the LH surge, which is a spike in luteinizing hormone that triggers ovulation. The LH surge occurs 24-48 hours before ovulation.

Specifically, ovulation happens approximately 24-48 hours after the LH peak or about 2 days after the LH surge begins (AKC). This means a dog generally ovulates on the 2nd day of the LH surge. The surge itself lasts about 24-48 hours in most dogs.

Additionally, the eggs need 1-3 days after ovulation to mature in the uterus before they can be fertilized (UC Davis). So the fertile period when a dog can get pregnant extends a bit beyond the point of ovulation.

To summarize, ovulation takes place around the mid-point of the heat cycle, about 2 days after the LH surge begins. But fertility lasts for several days after due to the maturation process. Careful monitoring of the LH hormone can help pinpoint ovulation timing.

The Fertile Window

A dog’s most fertile period occurs around the time of ovulation. Ovulation is defined as the release of a mature egg from the ovary. This typically happens between days 10-14 of the heat cycle, with most dogs ovulating around day 12 (AKC).

The fertile window spans about 5 days total. It begins 2-3 days before ovulation occurs and lasts about 2 days after ovulation (AKC Canine Health Foundation). This window accounts for the viable lifespan of sperm and egg once they have been released.

The 2-3 days leading up to ovulation are when the female’s egg can be fertilized by male sperm. Sperm may survive in the female for up to 5 days, which is why the fertile period extends approximately 2 days after ovulation occurs (AKC).

Therefore, the fertile window spans about 1-2 days before ovulation through about 2-3 days after. Breeding outside of this narrow 5 day window has a very low chance of resulting in pregnancy.

Conception 5 Days After Ovulation

A dog can potentially get pregnant if bred 5 days after ovulation, but the likelihood of conception declines the further past ovulation. According to research, a dog’s ova can survive for up to 5 days after ovulation occurs (1). However, fertility rates tend to be highest in the first 48 hours following ovulation and decrease each day after that.

Several factors influence whether conception occurs 5 days after ovulation:

  • The viability and quality of the ova – Older or lower quality eggs have a shorter lifespan.
  • The number of viable sperm – More sperm increases odds of fertilization.
  • The dog’s age and health – Younger, healthy dogs tend to have higher fertility.
  • Timing of breeding – Breeding closer to ovulation improves success.

While unlikely, some dogs can still conceive from breedings 4-5 days after ovulation. However, the best conception rates come from breedings in the first 48 hours after the LH surge when ovulation occurs (2).

veterinarian performing ultrasound scan on pregnant dog

Signs of Pregnancy

There are several physical and behavioral changes that may indicate your dog is pregnant. These signs typically become noticeable around 3-4 weeks after the fertile breeding. However, each dog is unique so the timing may vary.

Some of the most common physical signs of pregnancy include:

  • Weight gain – Your dog’s weight will steadily increase as the puppies grow during gestation. Track your dog’s weight weekly during suspected pregnancy.
  • Enlarged nipples – Your dog’s nipples will begin to enlarge around 1 month into pregnancy as her body prepares to produce milk.
  • Swollen belly – Your dog’s abdomen will expand as the uterus fills with growing puppies. This is often the most obvious physical sign of pregnancy.
  • Increased appetite – Your dog may eat more to meet the nutritional demands of pregnancy and nursing.
  • Lethargy – Your dog may seem more tired as her body works hard to support the developing puppies.

You may also notice some behavioral changes like:

  • Nesting – Your dog may collect blankets, towels or other objects to create a nesting area in preparation for whelping.
  • Overly affectionate – Some dogs become more attached to their owners during pregnancy.
  • Decreased activity – Your active dog may suddenly seem less energetic and prefer rest.

If you notice these signs of pregnancy in your dog, schedule a veterinarian visit to confirm and start preparing for the puppies. An ultrasound or x-ray can definitively determine pregnancy as early as 3-4 weeks into gestation.

Confirming Pregnancy

To confirm pregnancy in a dog, veterinarians have several options for testing:

  • Veterinary Exams – Vets can palpate the abdomen to feel for fetal growth around 4 weeks into the pregnancy. Enlargement of the uterus may be felt earlier.
  • Ultrasounds – An ultrasound can detect fetal heartbeats as early as 3-4 weeks into pregnancy and visualize puppies from about day 20.
  • Blood Tests – A blood test can detect relaxin, a hormone produced by the placenta, as early as day 20-22 of pregnancy [1]. Tests like the Witness relaxin test analyze blood to confirm or rule out pregnancy.

These options allow vets to confirm pregnancy, determine litter size, and monitor fetal health. Owners seeking an early diagnosis of dog pregnancy should schedule a vet exam for blood tests or ultrasound.

Caring for a Pregnant Dog

Proper care of a pregnant dog is crucial for the health of both the mother and her puppies. Here are some tips for caring for a pregnant dog:

Nutrition: Feed your dog a high-quality puppy food or active dog food to provide additional calories and nutrients. Avoid feeding extra calcium, but do provide foods rich in folic acid, omega fatty acids, and other vitamins and minerals. Speak to your vet about prenatal supplements if needed. Feed smaller, more frequent meals to aid digestion.

Exercise: Take your dog on regular, gentle walks and potty breaks. Avoid strenuous exercise, but don’t let your dog become sedentary. Provide safe toys and chews for mental stimulation. Swimming is an excellent low-impact exercise when close to delivery.

pregnant dog swimming gently for exercise

Veterinary Care: Schedule regular vet checkups to monitor your dog’s health and the puppies’ development. Testing and vaccines may be recommended. Ultrasounds and x-rays can check litter size and position. Discuss birthing plans and any potential complications with your vet.

Overall, give your pregnant dog lots of love and attention, while ensuring she gets proper nutrition, gentle exercise, and veterinary care. This will set her up for a safe pregnancy and delivery. Ask your vet for specific recommendations for your dog’s needs.

Whelping Preparation

Preparing for the arrival of a litter of puppies requires making some adjustments to ensure the mother dog is comfortable and the puppies are healthy. Here are some tips for getting ready for whelping:

Set up a whelping box or area a few weeks prior to the due date. The whelping box should have high enough walls to prevent the puppies from wandering off but low enough for the mother to enter and exit easily. Include soft bedding like blankets or towels that can be easily changed if soiled. The Dura-Whelp® whelping box is designed specifically for a dog’s comfort through labor, delivery, and nursing.

mother dog with newborn puppies in whelping box

Make sure the whelping area is in a quiet, low-traffic space in the home. This will reduce stress and disturbances while the mother dog is in labor.

As the due date nears, take the mother’s temperature twice a day to help pinpoint when labor will start. Her temperature will drop below 100°F within 24 hours of the onset of labor.

Make a list of emergency contacts like your veterinarian in case assistance is needed during the birthing process. Have clean towels, scissors or dental floss for tying off umbilical cords, and glycerin or iodine on hand to prep for the puppies’ arrival.

Offer easily digestible high-protein meals and make water constantly available in the days before labor. This will give the mother energy for the demanding birthing process.

Limit outside activity and stimulation in the last days of pregnancy to help the mother dog relax and conserve energy.


In summary, ovulation typically occurs around days 10-14 of a dog’s heat cycle, but there can be some variation between breeds and individual dogs. The most fertile window is usually the 3-4 days leading up to ovulation. Conception is still possible around 5 days after ovulation, but the chances are much lower at that point. Signs of pregnancy, like swelling nipples and belly growth, may start becoming noticeable around 3-4 weeks after conception. An ultrasound and blood test can confirm pregnancy as early as 3-4 weeks along. While conception 5 days after ovulation is less likely, it’s not impossible. Careful observation of your dog’s cycle and health is important for determining if breeding was successful.

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