Pregnancy Care For Dogs
So you made the decision to mate your dog and have a litter of puppies then? Or perhaps it was one of those unplanned situations? No matter how you got here, the matter at hand is still the same. Your dog is going to have puppies!
It’s an exciting time, knowing that you are going to have a bunch of adorable fluff balls in a couple of months! If this is your first time around a pregnant dog then you may be asking yourself what you have gotten into – no matter how excited you are for the pups!
The number one thing you need to do if you suspect that your dog is pregnant is get her to a vet. Your vet will be able to advise you on how far along your dog may be as well as how to best care for her.
If you’re just waiting on the appointment with the vet and you want a quick run-down in the meantime, I’ve gathered all the most important stuff you need to know!
How long are Dogs Pregnant for?
The average duration of a pregnancy in dogs is 63 days, though she could give birth anywhere from 57 to 72 days. This is roughly 21 weeks long and just like human pregnancy, dog pregnancy is broken up into three trimesters.
If you were not around to witness the event, but you are suspicious your dog may be pregnant there are a few signs to watch out for like her nipples being a darker shade, morning sickness, seeking seclusion or lack of appetite.
The first symptom most dogs will show is the nipples changing shades or becoming swollen.
Other signs will likely not be noticeable until the 14th day (2nd week). At 21-28 days is usually when a dog starts having symptoms of morning sickness.
How to Keep your Pregnant Dog Comfortable
In the beginning of her pregnancy, your dog is likely to have the same energy levels and eating habits as usual. It is important that you let her stay active for as long as she is able and willing – the better shape she’s in, the easier her delivery will be.
Always make sure that there is fresh water available to your dog. If possible, leave a bowl of water in several places throughout your home so she has access whenever she may need it. Oh, and don’t forget to change each water bowl every day!
When it comes to food, it is up for debate whether you should continue to feed your dog standard meals, several smaller meals, or allow her free grazing of her food. You may want to consult with your vet – if your dog has lost her appetite, then grazing might be the best option.
After about the fifth week of pregnancy you should be feeding your pregnant dog puppy food instead of regular dog food. Not only is it higher in calories, which she needs feeding all those pups, but it is also full of extra vitamins she and the pups need as well.
Giving her a place that is all her own is a great way to keep her comfortable. For example having a nice soft bed that is at or very near ground level is great! (In the 6th-8th weeks you should keep her from jumping on furniture as it can be harmful for her and the pups!)
Try and make sure that this “safe place” of hers is stress free, relaxing and large enough for you to fit a whelping box! That last part is important – you will want her to already be familiar with the spot where you plan to keep her and the pups after the birth.
Purchasing a whelping box is the route most breeders and pet parents go – however you can choose to build one or improvise with a playpen. Just make sure that the edges of the box are high enough to keep pups in and still allows mama to get out!
The last, most important thing you can do for your dog is to shower her with love and affection. You don’t have to spoil her a ton, just reassure her that she is in a happy, healthy and safe environment so she feels secure in having her pups!
Common Danger Signs to Watch For
As with having a human baby there is potential for complications when your dog is pregnant. Most of the time, everything goes smoothly and the pet parents or breeder are enough to help her through delivery.
Other times you may end up needing to call your vet. You should make sure that your dog visits the vet throughout the pregnancy in order to keep an eye on everything properly. Your vet will be able to tell you how many puppies you should expect her to have.
If your dog is going to have trouble you may not know until she is actually in labor. Once your dog goes into labor she will have her litter anywhere between 12 and 24 hours later. If she doesn’t have at least one pup by then, contact your vet as there may be a serious problem.
Similarly, if your dog delivers 1 or 2 pups and then stops giving birth and you know there were more pups to come then you absolutely need to call your vet!
In either of these situations there are a number of possibilities including inability to pass the pups due to weak uterine muscles or the pup is trying to come out sideways. These are both cases where it is best to have an experienced vet or breeder around to help out!
Chances are you can get a general idea of your dog’s due date if you know when she mated. Dog pregnancy starts during ovulation, meaning she will likely give birth roughly 63 days after ovulation if pups are conceived.
After the first visit or two to the vet you should have a better idea of when you should be expecting your new puppies to arrive. They can use ultrasounds as well as x-rays to determine not only how far along your dog is but also how many pups to expect.
When the time for whelping has finally arrived you should have everything ready.
A nice whelping box in a spot that your dog feels safe, secure and happy. You should have an idea of when your dog should give birth and how many puppi
es she may have.
You may notice your dog is seeking seclusion or pacing around the house.
These can both potentially be signs that your dog is going to go into labor soon. If you notice these signs you should check her temperature.
Normal dog temperature is around 102 and her temperature will drop to 98 degrees 8-24 hours prior to delivery of the first pup. If her temperature has dropped and she is not near the whelping box then you should lead her to it and prepare for what’s to come!
You will be there to help your dog through this stressful, tiring ordeal – and don’t let yourself miss out. Not only is this an experience that you don’t want to miss, but you need to be there in case any of those complications mentioned above become a reality.
The best things you can do for your dog during her pregnancy is to try and keep her comfortable with a nice bed, a good puppy food and a place that is all her own.
Make sure to keep up on vet visits and follow all the vets’ recommendations. This is the best thing you can do to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery while caring for your pregnant dog.