Are you planning to have pups or is your pet already expecting?
This article will tell you how to take care of your pet during her 55 to 72 days gestation period and afterward as well so that you can minimize any complications. Being well informed and prepared is going to keep both her and you stress-free and is the key to a proper and easy delivery.
What to do when your dog gets pregnant?
Since dogs cannot speak, they cannot give you the good news themselves. It is for you to notice. How can you tell if your dog is pregnant? Well, initially there will be no sign at all. You may not see a protruding belly immediately and your dog will hardly seem any different.
But what you will notice is a bit of weight gain and swollen nipples. What about morning sickness? Well, very few dogs are affected by this and at the most show lethargy and lack of appetite. Very few cases experience any vomiting.
If you are seeing these signs then you better head to your vet immediately to rule out any other health issues. He will do an ultrasound to confirm the pregnancy. It is perfectly safe and uses sound waves to create an image of your dog’s womb. It is of utmost importance for diagnosis.
Sometimes what seems like a pregnancy can also be a false one. That means your pet is looking and acting pregnant but is not really in the family way. An ultrasound will show you silhouettes of the babies. Later he may draw blood to check her hormone levels.
You may notice the vet doing a manual check as well but make sure that you, in your excitement don’t reach out to press her tummy. If you do it roughly, you may harm the growing fetuses or cause a miscarriage. Let the vet handle it because he knows what he is doing.
If you did not plan for puppies, then this is the time to terminate the pregnancy. Do not wait for her to finish her first trimester. Take a decision immediately else you will put her at risk for no rhyme or reason.
Planned pregnancies are preferable after the first heat. If you do not want pups at all then neutering her at the very same time may be the best alternative.
How to manage your dog’s pregnancy
The average pregnancy lasts for roughly 70 days and a veterinary examination will be needed every trimester at least until the birth of the pups. So that is at least three times during the whole gestation.
Please be sure of your vet’s schedule so that you are not left in a lurch during birth. If the birthing happens at night, will he be there for you? is there any other vet you can approach?
If he is going to be out of town please ensure that you have a back up veterinarian nearby who is well and fully equipped to take on any emergency.
Request your consulting doctor to be available on the phone for you at least because he is aware of your dogs present and past health issues. Speaking of vets, do ask him the cost of a C-section incase one is needed. It is good to have some money tucked away because surgeries are expensive.
He may opt for a manual check instead of an ultrasound. Do not be alarmed, he knows what he is doing. In your excitement, don’t reach out to press her tummy. If you do it roughly, you may harm the growing fetuses or cause a miscarriage.
Expectant mothers need special care so hence forth your dog has to be treated with the utmost respect almost like a queen. Special emphasis should be placed on a good diet, prescribed amounts of exercise and loads of love.
During pregnancy, no dog should be vaccinated. If she is overdue then your vet’s consultation is of the utmost importance. If you need to take care of fleas and ticks, again only the vet will suggest safe medicines to treat parasites during pregnancy.
He will also advice you on the continuation of medication for any chronic disease that she may be suffering from. Even if you suspect a fever do not self medicate.
What about a bath? Please invest in a shampoo that is safe for expectant mothers. Again, your vet will advise you. If your pet does not like to have a bath, it will only stress her out and you do not want that.
If you absolutely must then ensure that the water is warm and you have her on a non-slip surface. Make sure she is completely dry after her bath. She could catch a cold that could even lead to pneumonia.
Your pregnant dog will require even more nutrients than a normal dog. Malnutrition can lead serious complications for both her and her pups.
During the first month of her pregnancy she may not want nor needs more than her normal consumption of high quality but easily digestible food which has more real meat and as few fillers as possible.
Around the second month is when she will start to put on a noticeable amount of weight and have an increased appetite. Normally one can add about quarter more than her normal amount to her daily diet.
It is often seen that pregnant dogs prefer to eat their food in intervals. It is not because they do not relish what you give them but because the unborn pups press against the internal organs making it hard for the mother to ingest all her food in one sitting.
It will be a good idea for you to feed her small quantities at regular intervals as compared to large amounts twice a day. If it is not possible for you to be home throughout the day then let her free-choice.
Ensure that her water is refreshed twice a day at least. Only your vet can prescribe vitamins or minerals. Do not give supplements on your own as it is generally not needed and can put your pet at risk.
As far as your dogs regular routine is concerned, let it continue and try to keep things as normal as possible. What you should avoid though are strenuous and high impact activities like herding and dog shows. If she is a therapy animal, give her a break from that for a while.
At this point she is the one in need of therapy and a pregnancy is exhausting. If you did not take her out for regular walks before the pregnancy then please do so at this time. It will help keep your pet in top physical condition and her muscles toned.
Just like in humans, obesity is dangerous. It will reduce the risk of dystocia and poor lactation. Keep your doctor in the loop about her exercise routine and rising weight.
Prepare your dog for the birth
It is recommended that you provide your dog with a whelping box. This is a box within which you can place her bed and make her a comfortable den. You can either make one or buy it from your local pet store.
If your pet does not have a bed of her own because she sleeps on yours, now is the time to invest in one. She should be able to stretch her body to birth easily so ensure that it is big and comfortable and fits in her whelping box. She will be in it for the next two months after the birth to feed her pups.
Encourage her to sit in the box before the birth so she is familiar with it and starts to feel safe there. When she delivers and it is not in the whelping box that you got for her, do not worry. You can always place the pups in there for her to go and nurse.
As she gets close to her delivery date it is better to keep your dog away from other dogs. It could be an aggressive dog within your own household or the neighbour’s dog who keeps coming home to play. It is a possibility that hormonal changes can cause her to get cranky and snap at another dog.
Even the dog park can sometimes prove fatal in case she gets into a fight with another dog that is off the leash. She can also pick up and infectious disease that could harm her and cause her to miscarry.
As the birth approaches, your dam will become very sensitive. Some become withdraw and some get very clingy and seek nonstop attention during their pregnancy.
Either way, make sure nothing is stressing her out. It could be loud sounds, dirty surroundings, visitors who she detests, howling and inquisitive kids, so on and so forth. Stress can cause a miscarriage.
Anytime from the 60th day of her gestation, be prepared to welcome innocent little guests into your home. Most dogs do not need to be supervised during whelping. They have an inbuilt instinct that tells them how, when and what is to be done.
None the less, it would be great if a responsible member of the family be at home at all times. If it not possible then, one can only hope and pray that all goes well.
On the day of delivery, your dam will becomes restless and stop eating at least 24 hours before she goes into labour. She will constantly be licking her vulva and sometimes even vomit or discharge mucus. You do not need to get alarmed.
Watch from afar and notice if there is any unwanted trauma. It will seem difficult but child birth is not one of nature’s easiest miracles. Your voice can be soothing and assure her of your presence.
Your vet needs to be called immediately or you need to rush to him if he has confirmed that the pups are in the right position and has given you a count of say four fetuses but only three are born.
Generally the maximum amount of puppies is equal to your dog’s nipples. Also abnormal bleeding or if the dam goes still is a cause for alarm.
If all is well, then keep observing the dog. She will be exhausted so you can step in and help her with a gentle tug on the pup as its coming out which should be within an hour of its first sighting. It will be in a grayish sac that protrudes out of the vulva.
You can also stimulate or wake up the puppies with a towel when they are born. Check and see if the amniotic sac is stuck on their faces. Mostly the mother will lick it off but in her exhaustion she may delay causing them to suffocate.
Post delivery the mother dog will lick her pups clean and eat the placenta, or afterbirth. It is of no use and if she does not eat it then you can discard it. It is a natural thing and will not cause your dam any harm.
Ensure that each pup comes with its own placenta. If it does not then the unaccounted ones should be discharged after the last puppy is born. She will also chew through each umbilical cord on her own. If she does not you can consult with your vet on how to cut and tie it up yourself.
Clean up the area, and place clean cloths for her and her pups. Get someone to watch over the babies while you take the dam to relieve herself.
You can wipe her dry with a hot towel to prevent any bacterial infections. Let the new family then settle in and let her nurse and catch up on some sleep in peace.
Monitor the mother for one week. Within the next 24 to 48 hours of giving birth, the dam may have a rise in temperature but this is normal in most cases and subsides.
Keep a look out for signs of any illness. Do try and take your dog for a checkup and let your vet examine her for any injuries, hemorrhage or complications.
He will also give her certain hormonal injections known as posterior pituitary extract (POP) injection to help expel any leftover tissue mass in the womb.
There may be some spotting that is totally normal and a normal discharge of fluids and tissues after the birth which is nature’s way of cleaning out the uterine lining.
It is usually odourless, but if it starts to look a dirty brown colour and smell then it may be a uterine infection or even a piece of undischarged placenta. Her nipples should not get red and swollen nor should she have convulsions or drool excessively. All of this warrants a vet as soon as possible.
Post partum, your dam will start to eat normally again. She should be given many smaller meals initially and then you can go back to larger meals that are more spaced out.
Take the effort to feed her the very best. Offer her delicacies like paneer, eggs, liver and other highly nutritious foods. It directly affects the quality of her milk. Fresh water should be available near her at all times.
In a week’s time after the birth, you can bathe your dam. Pups bond with their mothers thru their scent so bathing her may confuse the pups and put them in trauma for no rhyme or reason.
Start to encourage here to take regular breaks to relieve herself and then walk a bit as well. Some mothers and especially first time mothers are very protective and do not wish to leave the litter at all. It is really stressful for a mother to have people come and fidget with the pups. Please do not encourage it immediately after birth.
Now that your dog is a mother, she may get aggressive with dogs or people she was once very friendly with. Her instincts as a mother are what is causing her to do so because she feels that her pups are being threatened.
Allowing your dog to get pregnant and have pups is no menial matter. There is much to keep in mind when preparing for her whelping. Your work does not stop once the babies are born because then you have not one but many lives under your care.
Remember to keep your vet in the loop right from day one because in the end his guidance and care is what can keep your dam and her babies in the best possible health and well being.
Consider spaying your dog if you do not want to breed her again. With the alarming number of abandoned animals in shelters, one can understand how essential it is not to make more pups but encourage adoption of the ones already waiting and in need of a forever home.
For each dog that is adopted, a needy one can get a slot in a shelter to recover and be rehabilitated.