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When Does a Pregnant Dog Start Producing Milk?

News that your dog is pregnant can bring great joy to your household. You’re elated that your beloved pet is about to become a mother and excited by the prospect of caring for her pups.

Before you get lost in all the elation and excitement, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a crucial time for your pet. She will experience all kinds of changes during her pregnancy. You need to know about those changes as well so you can better prepare your pet for her eventual delivery.

For this article, we’ll focus specifically on lactation in dogs. Learn more about your dog’s lactation and what it means for her pregnancy by reading on.

When Does a Pregnant Dog Start Producing Milk?

Dogs don’t have a developed immune system when they are very young. They can easily get sick from eating different kinds of food. You should allow their mother to provide their food at that point.

That’s why pups are heavily dependent on the milk they get from their mothers. The milk provided by a female dog contains the nutrients a puppy will need to grow properly along with immunoglobulins that offer protection from various illnesses.

There is no substitute for the milk your pet can provide to her puppies. So, at what point during her pregnancy will she start producing milk? Expect it to be a while.

Usually, a dog won’t start producing milk she is in the latter stages of her pregnancy. Your dog’s mammary glands may only start to grow after she has been pregnant for at least 45 days. By then, she may just be two to three weeks away from giving birth.

Your pet will only start to produce milk well after her mammary glands have grown. Expect your dog to produce milk about 60 days into her pregnancy. It could happen a bit earlier than that, but that is not the case most of the time.

How Soon Will the Puppies Come?

Discovering that your pet is lactating is important for obvious reasons. Beyond those obvious reasons, you should also take note of your pet’s lactation because it’s an indicator that she is set to deliver soon.

Dogs will only start producing milk when they are close to giving birth. Your pet is likely only a few days away from delivering if you notice them lactating.

Take that cue your pet has provided and start prepping for her delivery. If you want a breeder to be on standby during her birth, you should probably inform them when you see the milk.

What Does It Mean When a Pregnant Dog Starts Leaking Milk?

A dog that is producing milk is also close to giving birth. Upon discovering that your pet is lactating, you should start preparing for the arrival of her puppies.

Detailed below are the things you must do to get your home ready for the new arrivals.

Prepare a Whelping Box

You want to provide a safe environment for your pet and her puppies while she is giving birth. Ideally, the whelping box will be that environment for them.

Pet owners can purchase specially designed whelping boxes for their dogs. If you don’t want to pay extra for a manufactured whelping box, you can also use a kennel or kid-sized inflatable swimming pool.

Take some time to clean the whelping box so it will be as accommodating as possible.

Choose a Spot for the Whelping Box

Next, you need to pick out a spot for your whelping box. Select a quiet spot so your pet can stay relaxed as she gives birth.

Pick out a room inside your home that is currently not in use and place the whelping box in there. You can also choose your living room or a bedroom. Just try to clear out the area so your pet can get comfortable.

Introduce Your Dog to the Whelping Box

Once the whelping box has been set up, you should bring your dog there and allow her to spend some time on it. The odds of your dog using the whelping box will increase if you allow her to stay in it beforehand.

 How Can I Tell When My Dog Is about to Have Her Puppies?

Milk production is just one sign that your pet is close to giving birth. In this section, we’ve highlighted the other signs indicating that delivery will start soon. Keep an eye out for them so you are well prepared for the arrival of the puppies.

Temperature Drop

Your dog’s temperature suddenly dropping is a sign that they are close to delivery. Notably, you may notice this temperature drop even before your dog starts producing milk. Typically, your dog’s temperature will drop when they are less than a week away from giving birth.

Take a rectal thermometer and use that to gauge your pet’s temperature. A temperature reading below 99 degrees Fahrenheit is considered low for dogs. If you get that temperature two days in a row, take that as a sign that pups are arriving soon.


A dog who is close to giving birth will start feeling restless. She may start pacing around your home or look for places to hide. If you introduced her to her whelping box, you may find your pet walking around in there.

Excessive Panting

Pregnant dogs will start to pant more as they inch closer to delivery. That panting could be due to the toll the pregnancy is taking on them. This can be a tough symptom to recognize so check for other signs that your dog is about to give birth to confirm your suspicions.

Loss of Appetite

No matter how voracious of an appetite your pet has, you may notice her lose it as she nears delivery. Don’t force her to eat at that point. Instead, give her some space so she can relax more while she prepares to deliver her puppies.

Display of Nesting Behavior

Lastly, dogs tend to display nesting behavior just before they give birth. You may find your pet in the whelping box and see her re-arranging the area. She may also be looking for a comfortable spot in there.

Try not to interrupt your dog while she is nesting. Allow her to arrange the whelping box whichever way she prefers so she is more relaxed while delivering her puppies.

Do Dogs Leak before Giving Birth?

Yes, your dog may start to leak before she gives birth. The leaking we’re talking about here refers to milk production. As we’ve established, you will only see that milk when your pet is set to deliver puppies in the near future.

You may also see some watery discharge from your pet’s vagina if she’s close to delivery. Check her bed to confirm if there is discharge there.