Pregnancy in dogs, also called the gestation period, normally ranges from 57-65 days with an average of 63 days. In case you plan to breed, you should record the exact date of mating. Whether you’re considering breeding your own dog or surprisingly finding out your dog is pregnant, having a sound understanding of what is involved in the pregnancy is essential. Knowing What to expect when your dog is expecting means you can be assured to provide your dog and her future puppies with the best care possible.
When it comes to pet pregnancy, some people may think it sounds easy and fun, but there is the pregnant dog must be quite a bit of work that you need to do both before and after your dog gives birth. This article will help you somewhat prepare mentally and knowledge of before and after the delivery. From that, you can set a proper plan and care to minimize complications of the whole process.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Pregnant?
“Is my dog pregnant?” It’s a question concerned dog owners ask a surprising amount. The best way to find out, of course, is to make an appointment with your vet. They can confirm whether if the puppies are on the way, and get an idea of how many. But there are few signs for you to realize that you are about to become a grandma.
Some significant signs:
- Bigger belly
- Increased appetite
- Increased nipple size and possible color change
- Increased weight
- Decreased activity
- Mucoid discharge from the vulva
- Behavioral changes (such as nesting, increased affection, or irritability)
After checking all the signs mentioned above, if your dog satisfies many of them, then congratulations! 90% that your dog has become a mother and you soon become a grandma of beautiful puppies.
Care During Pregnancy
After pregnancy confirmation, you should note the following things when taking care of your dog.
Should I change her food?
Proper nutrition is one of the most important things to keep in mind. A healthy body will help the delivery process faster and smoother, it also reduces health risks for puppies. A pregnant dog needs a balanced, nutritious, highly digestible diet, but they also need more calories. If your dog is at a healthy weight with a healthy diet, you won’t have to make any changes for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy.
In the 5th week onwards, you will need to start increasing your dog’s food intake. However, do not arbitrarily add foods or meals without consulting your veterinarian. We recommend that you consider your vet’s professional advice based on your dog’s individual needs.
Exercise is good for Pregnant Dogs
Similar to humans, regular exercise keeps your dog healthy and fit. However, some dogs will become lazy as the body gradually becomes heavier. Avoid intense activities or aggressive exercises, regular walks are a better choice instead. As your dog is now expecting, she will get tired easily, so remember to keep walks shorter.
During the last three weeks of pregnancy, the mother dog must be separated from other dogs and animals due to the prevention from contracting parasites and illnesses. At this time, indoor exercise is more appropriate than outdoor walks.
Treatments for Pregnant Dogs
As mentioned many times, the vet’s advice is always taken into consideration. Therefore, the following tips and information about dog pregnancy treatment are to help you prepare information and questions for your vet.
Normally, your dog will need to see the vet a couple of times during her pregnancy. An ultrasound and or blood test can be done as early as 21 days into pregnancy to confirm it. To check the number and size of the pups your vet can take x-rays after about 45 days your dog into the pregnancy.
You do not want to expose the puppies to these parasites at birth. As a result, external and internal parasites like roundworms and fleas do require specific treatments. Another way to stop the puppies from getting worms from their mum when they are born: give your dog a wormer called Fenbendazole every day from day 40 of pregnancy until 2 days after the puppies are born. Again it is important to consult the veterinarian about these treatments.
If you actively breed your dog, then they should be up to date on her annual vaccines. The mother dog’s milk will be able to transmit the virus, so she should be fully protected. If possible, during pregnancy, the mother dog should not be vaccinated. 
You should be noted this:
Check your dog regularly to see if she experiences vaginal bleeding or discharge during the pregnancy. In case she does you should contact your vet for advice. Complications can cause harm to the puppies and the mother dog. Hence, any signs of illness while your dog is pregnant or things that can normally wait a few days might be more serious than you thought. If you notice any of those symptoms, do not wait to bring her to the vet.
Prepare a Whelping box
In the last weeks of pregnancy, you should prepare the Pregnant Queen for a warm place to deliver beautiful babies. There are whelping boxes made that can be purchased or you can even use a small children’s plastic swimming pool. You can be creative and do it from scratch with the cardboard box.
No matter how you make it, the whelping box should be is easy to clean. Ideally, add a rail around it so the puppies can move under to help prevent the mother from accidentally crushing them. It also should be placed in a quiet area of the house where your pregnant dog can feel safe and comfortable. Introduce your dog to the box about one week before the expected delivery date to allow your dog to become acclimated. And in case if the mother dog changed her preference to “nest” in other spots, you will have time to make changes in bedding or location. For the puppy’s comfort, we recommend lining the box with washable rugs or blankets will give good footing for nursing and crawling, which helps their little legs and feet develop properly.
During the delivery
The first stage of labor lasts two to 12 hours. Your dog may show signs of nesting, nervousness, panting, shivering, loss of appetite, and vomiting. The whelping can last from a few minutes to several hours. Normally, the interval between the delivery of puppies is 30 to 60 minutes. There are rest periods for your dog to regain strength. It’s important to monitor her every 15 minutes or so in case you need to intervene. If the contractions are unproductive, last longer than an hour, or if you feel something is off, call your veterinarian for advice.
Naturally, after each puppy is expelled, your dog will break a thin membrane herself. In case she doesn’t do it then you must remove it to enable the puppy to breathe or else they may suffocate. Similarly, if she doesn’t break the puppy’s umbilical cord, you can assist by tying a thread around the cord before cutting between the knot and placenta. Your dog will also lick and clean the puppies, but if she ignores them, you can rub them gently with a clean towel to dry them off and stimulate their breathing.
After the delivery
After 5 to 6 hours of the delivery, take your dog and her puppies to the vet for a check-up. This is just to ensure safety and all dogs are in good health.
At this point, for the puppy’s care and the mother dog, you should examine your dog’s mammary glands daily. This is the source providing colostrum and milk for the puppies to ingest. Some dogs may suffer from firm and painful mammary glands may which indicate mastitis, an inflammation of the mammary gland. To keep the problem from getting worse, contact your vet and learn how to apply hot compresses or perform milk stripping two to four times a day.
As for the puppies, you should keep the puppies warm and dry at least two weeks after they arrived since they cannot regulate their body temperatures. Some heat sources may be added. For example, heating pads or heat lamps on low thermostat settings would work perfectly. Within 24 hours, they can receive some of the dog’s first milk. Don’t forget to check each puppy’s weight daily. Because weight loss or absence of weight can be a serious problem.
Just like humans, the puppies should remain attached to their mother during the first several weeks; she will feed them, help keep them warm, stimulate them to urinate and defecate, and teach them all they need to know to become wonderful dogs.
Stay calm and ready to be a grandma!
Pregnancy doesn’t have to be a stressful time for dogs and their owners. Whether you actively let your dog get pregnant or passively received the news, this is still good news. What could be better than being surrounded all day by these lovely creatures, right?
Keep in mind that: the more you know ahead of time, the easier it will be. So when the sign so up, take her right to the vet for confirmation.
Hope you find this article useful. Once again, congratulation to proud new Grandparents! Wish your dog and puppies will be safe and sound!
- Labeling & Labeling Requirements. The Association Of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)
- Tailoring Vaccines To Individual Patients. American Animal Hospital Association
- Pregnant Dogs. Quarry Hill Park Animal Hospital
- Take care of your pregnant dog document. Del Ray Animal Hospital