Care of Pregnant Dog
...Where do I start?
Glad you asked! Stick around and you'll be up to speed on the care of pregnant dogs in no time. That's
assuming of course that you already have a pregnant pooch!
On the other hand, you may be trying to decide whether it's a good idea to breed your dog and want to get
informed before deciding - and that's a smart move!
Even though you love the idea of witnessing
the miracle of nature and hearing the pitter-patter of tiny pooch paws, you also intelligently realize
that now is the time to consider your best friend first.
Dog breeding is a big responsibility, so it makes sense to learn all the ins and outs of what's involved
before you make this important decision. One vital question to ask yourself is: can you guarantee
good homes for all those sweet puppies, or are prepared to raise them yourself if you can't? But once you're really sure, it's...
On With The Show
First and foremost, after your dog has been mated, make an appointment with your vet to find out if the mating
was successful. Your vet will likely do an initial health check and may perform an ultra sound to confirm a pregnancy if it's about three week along. Making sure your pregnant dog gets good pre-natal care is vitally important if you want to increase the odds of ending up with a healthy litter of puppies.
Before dogs were domesticated, they were pretty good at fending for themselves. Even so, it still probably came down to the survival of the fittest with respect to birthing a healthy litter.
Now they are dependent on you for all their survival needs, including the pregnancy journey. Once you know there is a litter on the way, your pet has to rely on you
to take the best care of her during this time. So stay tuned and we'll help you out with some of the basics on the care of pregnant dogs.
The Dog Pregnancy Cycle
It's about a 63-day journey for your pooch
to arrive at the eventual "birth" day. During these days of gestation you'll need to be there to take
care of your pregnant dog and keep a watchful eye on her.
Take some time to ask yourself if you
can faithfully commit to walk-the-walk with your dog on this journey to motherhood and beyond?
Things can go wrong during dog pregnancy and whelping so you'll want to be ready for anything. Arming
yourself with lots of sound information about the care of pregnant dogs will give you more confidence.
Get everyone in the family to participate in the discussion about whether to breed or not.
Remember those cute little puppies can be quite a handful and will need a lot of love and nuturing.
you reach your final decision, check out all the important dog breeding information - especially
factors that determine if your dog is a good candidate for motherhood.
Check out and read some
worthwhile books covering canine reproduction and the care of pregnant dogs. Do yourself and your dog
a big favor and bone up on what's involved in breeding before you start.
But once you've decided to move ahead.... it goes without saying that, you don't want
to breed your dog until you are sure she is in very good health.
Care of Pregnant Dog and Nutrition
You probably already know that the state of a
dog's health is greatly influenced by the nutritional quality of the food she's been given over her
Premium quality food without additives and chemicals is the best recommendation in my
opinion. If your dog has been raised since puppyhood on a diet of high quality food then your pet is
no doubt ahead of the game "healthwise" which will likely make the care of your pregnant dog smoother.
Good health is vitally
important if you're planning to breed your dog as this will have
a strong influence on the success of a pregnancy.
During gestation and nursing, nutritional needs of the pregnant dog and the developing fetuses, is
priority. This is the time to make sure the diet is optimal, so don't cut corners on her
food quality now.
One thing you'll want to make sure of is that there is no deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the diet - such as calcium or zinc, because if there is, the mother's body will get depleted by the primary needs of the growing pups.
However when it comes to Calcium, supplementation of this mineral has to be timed correctly. Generally calcium needs of a pregnant dog increase in the late stages of pregnancy so is it best left to your vet to determine if and when to
As the pregnancy progresses, food servings will gradually need to be increased, especially with respect to protein, to make sure your dog has sufficient reserves when the puppies arrive. You'll want
to be well informed on this subject prior to breeding. Check out Dr. Pitcairn's book for more excellent
information and recipes as discussed on the
premium dog food page. His book includes recipes suitable for use during the gestation period.
If you don't want to do all the food prep yourself, you can purchase a top quality dog food base to
which you can add your own protein. For great information and to learn more about this nutritious, high quality
unprocessed base, go here.
In addition to dietary needs, have your vet do a complete physical to evaluate
if your dog's health makes her fit enough for a successful breeding. Also to find out if your dog has
any inheritable conditions that could influence your decision to breed her. Another factor you'll
want to check out is whether your dog is likely to need a cesarean. Some breeding trends have resulted
in dogs with pelvises too small for normal birthing.
Exercise And The Pregnant Dog
A pregnant dog needs regular exercise to maintain fitness and keep the muscles in toned condition, but don't overdo
it. Keep her at about the same amount she has been used to except back off a bit during hot weather.
She'll need to keep up her strength, but you don't want to create any stress.
If she's a little
over weight, this is not a good time to deal with it according to most vets. On the other hand, weight
issues relating to the pregnancy
, are definitely a concern when caring for your pregnant dog,
so make sure the vet monitors this situation as well as her total progress.
In fact I can't stress
enough how important it is to have a trusted vet or knowledgeable breeder available to answer questions
that come up during your dog's pregnancy.
At the same time, become well informed yourself
on all matters which relate to caring for pregnant dogs including: Vaccinations, which are generally not
recommended during pregnancy - best to have them done before or after breeding. However, parasite
control and worms are
important issues at this time. Have a chat with your vet on these
and all matters that you need to know about.
Pregnant dog care - Nearing Due Date
Care of your pet during the
last three weeks before and after birth is a crucial time. Most authorities recommend that you
completely isolate your dog from other dogs during this period. The reason for this is to protect
her from any possible contact with the canine herpes virus which can be very dangerous to mother and
When the anticipated "birthday" arrives, start monitoring your
dog's temperature. When it falls below 100°, from the normal 100°-102°, this will be your clue that
labor is usually about to start so keep a close watch during the remainder of this day and into the
This would also be a good time to alert your vet just in case you need assistance during the
birth. And be sure to check out the DVD shown here to better prepare yourself.
Dog Care And Labor
If your pregnant dog does not go into labor around the expected
time frame, talk to the vet. Likewise, if labor doesn't begin within a day after the temperature falls,
call your vet. In fact, any concerns should be reported.
Although the mother will normally handle
the delivery and cleaning of the pups herself, make sure that she does clean off the membrane from each
puppy to prevent suffocation. Be ready to step in and help if necessary. Also, you will need to take
care of tying off and cutting the umbilical cords. Have your vet instruct you in these tasks prior to
the birth so that you are well prepared and confident.
If you are unsure of anything during
the delivery, you know the drill - call your vet! It's best not to take any chances with these precious lives.
The delivery is over and all is well - well not quite! Now comes the awesome responsibility of caring for those
tiny and fragile new lives.
You will need to monitor their feeding and elimination for signs of any problems. They are especially vulnerable
during the first two weeks of life and will need your undivided attention to keep them protected and healthy.
Being prepared will take the scariness our of this job so go ahead and read this excellent
reference - Puppy Intensive Care: A Breeder's Guide to Care of Newborn Puppies
and you'll coast along just like a pro!
During the weaning period, have fun with your puppies before you send them off to carefully selected loving families who will
treasure and nurture them into adulthood.
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