Finding out that one’s female dog is pregnant can be a confusing time for a pet parent especially if this is her first pregnancy. Typically, the gestational period in dogs is 52-71 days but pups born before 56 days are weak and may not survive. Ideal gestation is considered to be 63 days but a bitch carrying a large litter could deliver before this time. In this guide, we will be talking about FAQs regarding dog pregnancy and general guidelines about pregnant dog care, delivery and other important details which every pet owner should know.
Changes in behavior and exercise patterns
A pregnant dog will be confused and might become more clingy than usual. Towards the end of the pregnancy, she might also become lethargic and slow to walk. You can walk your pregnant dog but you should take it easy. Walks will become slower and shorter as she comes closer to delivering. Pregnant bitches also instinctively dig a lot in the yard as they wish to create a safe den for the pups. Allow her to indulge in this behavior. (Controlled amount of digging in late pregnancy).
Walking and exercising your pregnant dog
Gentle, short walks are good for your pet. Avoid climbing, jumping or roughhousing activities with other dogs or kids during the last four weeks of pregnancy.
Excess urination during pregnancy
As your bitch comes to the end stage of her pregnancy, the pressure on her uterus could cause her to urinate frequently. If there is an accident in the home, do not scold her. Let her out frequently to avoid mishaps.
Deworming pregnant dog
As advised by most vets, you can deworm your bitch during last two weeks of gestation and once or twice during lactation. This will help prevent roundworm infestation in puppies. Panacur/Febendazole is a safe deworming pill to give during pregnancy and it takes care of roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Also get rid of external parasites with the use of vet approved products.
Schedule frequent checkups for your pregnant bitch with your vet. The first checkup is around 2-3 weeks after breeding. Ask detailed questions about dog pregnancy during this checkup.
Vitamins and minerals
Your vet will recommend vitamins and minerals supplements to administer during pregnancy and lactation. Administer them as directed. Some vets also recommend raspberry leaves and other herbs for pregnant dogs to add to their food. These help with whelping and also naturally regulate hormones. Discuss everything that you are giving with your vet before use. Your dog’s increased food requirements should ideally take care of all of her increased nutritional needs. Note that altered hormonal levels and vitamin loss can lead to excess shedding and hair loss post whelping. Never give excess of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, which could lead to health issues later.
How to carry your pregnant dog
When it is time, you must get on the phone with your vet. Some domesticated bitches refuse to push or bear the pain and may need surgical intervention for delivery. As an owner, you need to remain calm. Always have another person to help you carry the pregnant dog to the clinic. Keep your car ready at all times once your dog is closer to whelping. You can use a sling fashioned out of old sheets to carry her. If the bitch becomes aggressive, you might need to muzzle her.
Prepare a whelping room
If you plan for the delivery at home, here are some guidelines to follow
- Place towels and newspapers in the whelping room. The room should have a supply of hot water-so an unused bathroom is ideal.
- Prepare a whelping box with the help of two large cartons or cardboard boxes. You can also use wooden boxes but note that the box is going to get wet with each birth.
- You also need nail brush, soap and old soft towels for drying puppies. KY jelly lubricant can come in handy when inserting fingers to remove puppies.
- Surgical gloves.
- Baby bottle, bitch milk replacement if needed.
Whelping can take anywhere between 12-36 hours.
Stages of whelping
- Your bitch will become restless and start panting, pacing or appear to be in pain. Some domesticated bitches could highly exaggerate their symptoms. As a pet parent, you must remain calm but also take a call as to whether a vet is needed.
- She might also refuse food and could vomit.
- Provide her lots of old news paper to shred-this behavior can last for hours and is thought to be a primitive impulse or instinct to create nesting.
- There may be discharge from her vulva.
- Eventually, after a few more hours, her cervix will dilate. She will stop panting and lay pressure on her hind end.
- Your bitch might stand, crouch or lie down for actual birth. In some cases, you might have to insert your fingers inside to remove the puppies. If you are unsure, seek medical help.
- Some bitches ignore the puppies once they are born. Some are also shocked at the sight of puppy. If this occurs, you might need to tear the membrane and hold the puppy upside down. Rub the puppy vigorously so he starts breathing. If the bitch refuses to feed the puppy, you may have to use alternate milk supply. Your vet or breeders can guide you.
Once all the pups are out, your bitch will expel the placenta in the next 24 hours. Get your vet to examine your bitch afterwards to ensure that there is no infection.
Pregnant dog stages and delivery might seem extremely overwhelming to inexperienced pet parents. In most cases though, Mother Nature has provided your bitch with all the instincts she needs in order to become a mother. We hope this brief guide about dog pregnancy helps you.