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In this lesson, we're going to be providing you with some important knowledge of how body temperature increases and decreases work and how you should generally respond, leading up to the next two lessons on hypothermia and hyperthermia. At the end of the lesson, we'll be providing you with a Word about dog pregnancy.

How Core Body Temperature Works

When you feel cold, this is simply your temperature being lower than what your brain wants it to be. Your typical response is to shiver, wrap yourself up in a blanket or put on a coat, and eventually seek a warmer environment, if at all possible.

When you feel hot, the same thing applies. Your body temperature is higher than what your brain wants it to be and you respond by sweating, becoming flushed, and eventually seeking a cooler environment.

Your pet's body temperature fluctuations work in exactly the same ways.

Pro Tip #1: It's important to remember that what your pet's actual body temperature is may not be the same as what your pet's brain wants it to be.

While that sounds like a fantastic Zen riddle, we assure you, it's not. The best example of what we mean is the seasonal flu. Your temperature could be higher than normal, and yet, your brain wants it to be higher still. And why? To combat the invading flu virus. (Brain always knows best … usually.)

So that above example is what we'd call a temperature change due to an internal factor. Those situations are in contrast to what you should do for temperature changes due to an external factor, like exercising in the heat of summer or sitting in a hot car.

Pro Tip #2: It's important to recognize the difference between an internal factor (even though the flu virus was obtained externally) and an external factor. Remember, if the brain has changed the set point due to internal factors vs. changes due to external factors, your response changes as well.

A Good Rule to Follow

A good rule of thumb is to always go along with what your pet's brain wants your pet's temperature to be. If she wants to warm up, help her do that. And if she wants to cool off, help her do that, too. It is often really that simple.

A Word About Dog Pregnancy

Pet expert Cara Armour has been asked many questions about pet pregnancy over the years, prompting her to write a blog article for ProPetHero on the subject: The Top 5 Questions About Dog Pregnancy.

In the article, she addresses five common questions about dog pregnancy:

  1. What is the heat cycle?
  2. When can my dog get pregnant?
  3. How can I prevent my dog from getting pregnant?
  4. How long are dogs pregnant?
  5. What should I do after my dog's pregnancy has been confirmed?

In this brief Word, we'll take a look at answers to two of those questions. If you'd like to see the answers to the other three, simply follow that link above.

When can my dog get pregnant?

Your dog has a heat cycle and she can get pregnant any time during that cycle, once her hormone levels reach a certain point, usually around 10 to 12 days into her cycle. Larger breeds generally have two cycles per year, while smaller breeds often have three.

Her cycle will usually last two to four weeks and the behavioral changes that typically accompany this heat cycle can be obvious or so subtle that you barely notice.

How long are dogs pregnant?

Dogs are only pregnant for about two months. However, this depends on the individual dog and the breed, but pregnancy typically lasts between 61 and 65 days. The earliest point at which an ultrasound test can confirm pregnancy is at around the three-week mark.