Thursday, February 29th, 2024

How to Care for a Pregnant Dog

Some canine owners find the companionship of their animal so rewarding that they want to continue its bloodline and learn how to become a registered dog breeder. However, dog breeding is a huge responsibility with numerous considerations to think about. Pregnant dogs experience lots of changes – from hormones to behaviour and from appetite to weight – which is why having a sound understanding of what is involved in canine breeding and pregnancy is essential. If you are thinking about breeding your dog, below is everything you need to know to be able to give your pregnant bitch the best possible care.

Signs of Dog Pregnancy

Generally, dogs are pregnant for approximately 62 to 64 days. During their first few weeks of pregnancy, it can be difficult to identify if there is anything different about them in terms of appearance and behaviour. By their first month, however, one should be able to notice all or some of the following:

·  An increase in weight and appetite

·  A swollen abdomen

·  A decrease in activity

·  Exhaustion

·  Nesting behaviour

·  Irritability

Ways to Confirm if Your Dog is Pregnant

If you suspect your dog to be pregnant, it is recommended that you see a veterinarian so that they can verify her pregnancy and determine her due date and estimated number of expected puppies. They may conduct any of the following diagnostic methods:

·  Abdominal palpation – This method is the traditional way of detecting pregnancy in a dog. It involves pressing the surface of the canine’s abdomen, using the fingers, to look for swellings in her uterus.

·  Ultrasound – This is a diagnostic tool that can confirm canine pregnancy as early as 20 after breeding. It can detect fetal heartbeats but cannot accurately count the number of puppies your dog is carrying.

·  Hormone test – This is a blood test that measures the levels of relaxin produced in your dog’s body. Relaxin is a hormone that is only produced during canine pregnancy.

·  X-ray – This is an imaging test that not only confirms a dog’s pregnancy but also gives an accurate count of the number of her expected puppies. It is usually best performed from day 55 onwards.

Caring for Your Pregnant Dog

Below are some important steps you should take to make sure your dog stays healthy once you have confirmed that she is pregnant:

#1 Give your dog proper nutrition

Dogs require more nutrients and calories when they are pregnant, so feed your bitch good-quality adult food that is high in protein, fat, and minerals during her first four weeks of pregnancy. Avoid giving her homemade food, as it does not contain the proper balance of nutrients. Do not withhold food from her unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian. Finally, feed her more frequently but only in smaller amounts.

During your dog’s fifth or sixth week of pregnancy, she will need twice the calorie intake she needed pre-pregnancy. It is suggested that you increase her food intake by 20 to 25 per cent.

Once your dog has reached her eighth and ninth week, it is advised that you increase the amount of food she eats gradually by another 25 per cent until the end of her pregnancy. But because there will be puppies pushing on her stomach, her food should be divided into smaller but more frequent meals.

#2 Do not overstimulate your pregnant dog

Dogs can still exercise during most of their pregnancy. However, some veterinarians advise limiting strenuous exercise during the first two weeks of gestation to further enhance the implantation of the bitch’s embryos. Short walks and light playtime daily are sufficient.

After four to six weeks into pregnancy, your dog should no longer engage in stressful activities. Rather, she should go on shorter but more frequent walks. Should she need to rest, allow her for as long as she needs.

Finally, make sure to keep your dog away from other animals during her last three weeks of pregnancy. Avoid taking her to the neighbourhood park or local café to keep her protected from infectious diseases. Indoor exercise is recommended for dogs that are at their last stage of pregnancy.

#3 Talk to your veterinarian

Before giving your pregnant dog any medication, supplement, or treatment, it is imperative that you first consult with your veterinarian. This is because some are dangerous to unborn puppies and can even cause defects and death.

As long as your dog is fed a proper diet, it will not need any special supplements unless directed by your vet. Too much calcium, vitamins, and minerals in her body may affect both her health as well as that of her unborn puppies.

In addition, you should never have your pregnant dog vaccinated without consulting your vet. While she may need deworming and parasite prevention treatments, these cannot be administered at home when there is no consent.

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