The thought of adorable, little puppies is exciting, however, taking care of your pregnant dog is a big responsibility. You need to know the early signs that your dog may be pregnant and the recommended ways to care for your dog.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Pregnant?
During the first few weeks of pregnancy, your dog’s behavior may not change. During this time, it is possible that they will throw up or lose their appetite. How long a dog is pregnant depends on the breed and various factors, but on average, a dog is pregnant for approximately 62–64 days. Here are some signs that your dog may be pregnant:
- Gaining weight
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Getting tired easily
- Wanting to cuddle more often than usual
- Stomach is swollen
The signs may vary since every dog’s body is unique. It is important to consult a veterinarian if you notice these symptoms to rule out more serious conditions.
Here's What You Need To Do If You Think Your Dog is Pregnant
Contact your vet as soon as you suspect your dog might be pregnant. To confirm the pregnancy, your veterinarian will perform an ultrasound if your dog has been pregnant for approximately 4 weeks. Blood tests may also be performed after 35 days. It is important to keep your dog healthy during pregnancy, once it has been confirmed.
• Consult Your Veterinarian
It is important to take your dog to the vet during pregnancy so you can make sure that they are healthy and won't pass any conditions on to their puppies. A fecal examination is included to determine if intestinal parasites are present. Avoid giving your dog over-the-counter dewormers as they may affect the health of your dog and her puppies. If your dog's pregnancy is planned, make sure they have all their vaccinations and parasite preventions up to date.
• Make Sure Your Dog Gets the Proper Nutrition
During the first four weeks of your dog's pregnancy, you should feed her a nutritious, high-calorie diet. A vet can also recommend suitable dog food for your dog since there are some high-quality foods designed specifically for pregnant dogs. Pregnant puppies need a lot of calcium and phosphorus. Generally, it's recommended to feed your dog smaller meals more often since they won't have as much space in their stomach.
Salmon oil for dogs is recommended for pregnant and nursing dogs. Make sure that the salmon oil you give to your pregnant dog is 100% Salmon oil. Talk to your vet before making any changes to your dog's diet or supplement regimen, and ensure that the amount you give them is appropriate for his weight and size.
• Provide a Comfortable Resting Place for Them
Your pregnant dog may get tired quickly and need to rest often. Make sure her place to sleep is comfortable and free of distractions so she can get a good night's sleep. Since your dog is about to have puppies, there should also be enough room for them.
• Keep Them Away from Other Pets
Other pets in your household, like dogs and cats, can be active and playful. Your pregnant dog may not have the same energy as them. It is better to keep them isolated to avoid accidents and viruses.
• Monitor Their Temperature
You can tell if your dog is about to give birth in the next 24 hours by taking its rectal temperature. Their temperature will drop below 100 degrees during this period.
What to Expect When Your Dog is Giving Birth
The first 6-12 hours of your dog's birth will be filled with mild contractions. They may feel restless during this stage. You may notice your dog wandering in and out of its nesting area, or digging, panting, and vomiting. Eventually, they will start having stronger, more frequent contractions, resulting in puppies being born.
The process of giving birth may take between 10 and 15 minutes. Normally, they should have a puppy every 45 - 60 minutes, but sometimes they wait up to 4 hours. Head or tail first births are both normal, and neither are abnormal.
Your dog will pass fetal membranes, which are greenish-black masses, after giving birth to each puppy.
Watch your dog and ensure they are not straining for more than an hour or taking a break that lasts more than four hours. If this happens, you need to take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Health After Giving Birth
Watch for these signs after your dog has given birth:
- Vaginal Discharge
- Decreased appetite
- Inflamed/ infected breast tissue
If your dog is showing any of the signs above, call your vet immediately as this may indicate a serious condition. Inform them if your dog is nursing so they can prescribe medications or treatments accordingly.
Taking Care and Feeding of New Puppies
A protective fetal membrane surrounds puppies at birth, which is removed by their mothers. The puppy will not be able to breathe if the mother does not remove the sack, therefore you will have to do it yourself. This can be done by taking the puppy out of the sac, wiping the puppies' nostrils, facing them head down, opening their mouths, and stroking their bodies with a towel.
In addition, the umbilical cord may not be removed by the mother during birth. If this happens, you need to remove it. Pulling on the cord could damage the puppy's organs, so be careful not to damage it. Using your thumb and first two fingers, gently tear it about an inch away from the puppy's body.
You should call your veterinarian after the puppies are born so they can advise you on what are the best next steps. They will also discuss with you when the appointment will be so they can check the puppies and the mother. The vet will check to make sure they do not have an underlying condition like umbilical hernias or cleft palates.
First Few Weeks for New Puppies
Even though it's hard not to want to hold and cuddle these cute little fur babies, it's important to leave the mother and her puppies alone for the first few weeks. This can be hard on the mom and the baby. Also, puppies that are just born are very likely to get sick if held by people.
Dogs and their owners can get stressed out when the dog is pregnant, but it doesn't have to be that way. The better prepared you are, the more you will be calm and reassuring for your dog. It’s an exciting time but don't forget that you still have a lot to do. It is a big, important job to take care of newborn puppies and make sure they are healthy, well-adjusted, and go to loving forever homes. Remember to enjoy the moment and show your puppies (and their mom) how much you love them.