How To Care For A Pregnant Dog
Whether you wanted to breed your dog or she unintentionally met the male pooch of her dreams, the first thing you have to do is determine if she’s pregnant. Just because your dog was bred doesn’t mean that she’s necessarily going to bring pups to the world.
What you should know is that pregnancy in dogs lasts around 63 days. You don’t have to notice any changes in your dog’s physical appearance or behavior for the first 3-4 weeks. However, if she starts behaving strangely, you might want to look for the signs that indicate that she could be pregnant, including enlarged nipples, attention-seeking behavior and increased appetite. Keep in mind that female dogs display the same signs during false pregnancies, which can happen after they have been in heat.
To make sure that she’s definitely pregnant, you can take her for an ultrasound, which is able to detect fetal heartbeats after 28 days into pregnancy. Mind you, this cannot determine the number of pups. Your veterinarian can also palpate your dog’s uterus or order a pregnancy blood test, which can also be done after 28 days into gestation. The blood test doesn’t have to be accurate and can show negative results if your dog is pregnant with less than 3 puppies. X-rays can be done at the end of the pregnancy in order to find out the number of puppies and make sure that they can fit through the birth canal.
During your dog’s pregnancy, you should ensure that she remains physically active. She has to exercise to maintain good health and prevent obesity but keep the exercises light. If you are feeding her high-quality dog food, chances are that she doesn’t have to take in any additional vitamin or mineral supplements, as modern dog food contains all the nutrients dogs need to function optimally. If you want to add supplements to her diet, however, it’s best to consult your veterinarian and make certain that the supplements won’t harm the puppies. Also, your dog shouldn’t take in too much calcium because she might get eclampsia.
It’s important to note that your dog should eat adult food during the first four or five weeks of pregnancy. Afterward, incorporate premium puppy food into her diet program. It’s essential to decrease the amount of adult food and include more and more puppy food as time passes. She should eat only puppy food one week prior to giving birth.
Moreover, she’ll be hungrier than usual when she’s pregnant so you should also gradually increase the amount of food you’re giving her. During the last week of pregnancy, you should be feeding her small meals every 3-4 hours. She will probably eat a lot the first few weeks after giving birth, which is normal, so don’t hesitate to feed her when she’s hungry. Just pay attention that she doesn’t become obese because obesity in dogs can cause various health problems later on.
Next, you should never give any medications to pregnant or nursing dogs without talking to your veterinarian. However, if she has fleas or internal parasites, you should treat her before the puppies arrive. It goes without saying but you really need to provide proper health care for your dog during pregnancy. If you have any questions or doubts, ask them, as it’s better to receive an answer from a professional that to guess what to do.
Finally, you need to know the whelping date in order to make all the necessary preparations for the big day. There are several ways to determine the date, so it’s best to ask your veterinarian what they think. Once you know when the puppies will arrive, buy and set up a whelping box. This should be done two weeks before she is due to give birth, as you need to give her time to explore the box and get used to it. If she doesn’t have the chance to become accustomed to the box, she might decide to have her puppies elsewhere, including your bed or closet.