Taking care of pregnant dogs brings a whole new level of responsibility to pet owners. Here are a few basic things I’ve learned so far.
Is Your Dog Pregnant?
The best way to confirm if your dog is pregnant is to take her to the vet. At 25 days from conception, the vet will be able to check for heartbeat. An ultrasound can also help confirm pregnancy at an early stage. Sometimes X-rays can also be done, but this will have to be done about 45 days from breeding for it to show fetal skeletons.
What To Do?
A dog’s gestational period lasts about 62 days (about 2 months) on an average, but it could last anywhere from 54 to 72 days. Within this time frame, your dog needs to be fed properly. For the first month you can feed her with her regular food and feeding frequency.
As soon as she enters her second month you have to switch her to high-grade puppy food. This puppy food will provide your dog with all the calories she’ll need during pregnancy. Do not give your dog any vitamin supplements. It might make her body incapable of getting the calcium she needs while giving birth.
If your dog is not able to get calcium from her bones, she will experience Hypocalcemia. It will cause her muscles weaken and she might suffer from seizures. About one to two weeks before the expected birth date you can start preparing everything you’ll need for when she gives birth.
Include a box where you’ll house the little puppies. The box should be tall enough so that the puppies won’t be able to get out. Line the box with towels and keep it in an area where your dog is comfortable, but also private. Make sure you have scissors, dental floss, and an iodine solution (to help with cord maintenance).
A week prior to her expected delivery day, you want to take your dog’s temperature daily. Her temperature should read between 100° and 102.5° F (37.8° and 40.8° C). Her temperature will be lower by a few degrees within 24 hours before she gives birth. This will give you enough time to prepare everything.
How Do You Know When “It’s Time”?
If you notice your dog’s temperature lowers by a few degrees, it means that your dog will be giving birth within 24 hours. Make sure you wear clothes that you are willing to throw away because things are about to get messy. Continuously observe your dog and have you vet’s number on speed dial, just in case you need to contact your vet in case of an emergency.
When your dog goes into labor, you might see your dog shivering, panting, and restless. Lead your dog to the box that you’ve prepared. Let her rest there. Soon your dog will go into active labor and then you’ll see a puppy coming out.
If there is more than one puppy, your dog will go back to active labor before the next one comes out. If your dog goes into active labor for an hour but nothing happens, no puppy comes out, you need to contact your vet.
Make sure that each puppy has a towel of their own. They will naturally look for their mother’s breasts to feed, but continue to observe them since they’re unable to see when they’re initially born so they might need some help or guidance from you. Your dog should be able to eat at this point and will automatically go back to her pups to rest and feed them.
Take your dog and her puppies to the vet within the first six to eight weeks for a thorough check and first immunizations. Make sure to increase your dog’s food intake, she’ll need that while she’s nursing the pups.
So there you have it! Congratulations on your new puppies!