Caring for a Pregnant Dog

Pregnancy can be a scary time for anyone, especially animals who cannot communicate their needs. Being a dog parent can get a lot more overwhelming when your canine-companion becomes pregnant because most people don’t know how to care for their pets during pregnancy. Feeling daunted as a dog parent after getting the good news is natural; however, you shouldn’t let it rattle you so much that you fail to care for your dog in her time of need effectively.

Being an expectant parent can be overwhelming for your pet as it is, be sure not to add to her distress by being clueless. Do your research, read up on canine pregnancy as much as you can, and be in contact with your vet constantly to ensure you provide the best possible care to your pregnant pet. However, preparing yourself for your dog’s pregnancy may not be possible if you get the news unexpectedly. In that case, you need to get on your toes right away. But to do so, you need to have all the necessary knowledge about canine pregnancy and the care it warrants from the get-go because then you will not have the time to do research and gather facts.

To ensure you are not at your wits’ end when your dog gets pregnant, we decided to put together an extensive pregnancy care guide that’ll help you be the best to-be-dog-grandparent.

Here’s everything you need to know about caring for a pregnant dog.

Care During Pregnancy

Canine pregnancy lasts for about nine weeks and warrants different levels of care at different stages. However, there are certain nursing measures that you need to take throughout the gestation period, which include:

Providing a Healthy Nutrient-Dense Diet

Being pregnant means your dog needs to not only eat for herself but also her puppies. So, naturally, she’s going to have an increased appetite. But to make sure that your dog doesn’t put on a lot of unhealthy weight during her pregnancy, give her a healthy, nutritious diet that offers maximum nourishment and satiation.

If you don’t give your snuggle bud a wholesome diet, she’ll end up eating more to feel full, but she might not get all the necessary nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy and complication-free delivery. In other words, your dog will consume empty calories that will not be good for her own health and her puppies.

Therefore, feed your four-legged companion nutrient-rich food formulated for growth and development according to AAFCO’s (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) requirements. Try not to give her homemade food because it’s difficult to get the right balance of nutrients. Plus, homemade meals are not concentrated, which means they must be consumed in large quantities, and that’s not healthy.

An ideal food regimen for a pregnant dog includes wholesome meals at short intervals with moderate levels of physical activity.

Lastly, don’t get startled by your dog’s inordinately increased appetite, especially during the last three weeks of her pregnancy. Expectant dogs typically eat three times more than their usual, non-pregnant food requirement close to delivery and during the nursing period. It’s completely natural, and you must ensure that your dog gets sufficient food; otherwise, her body might start drawing calcium from the bones to meet the body’s nutrition requirements.

Light Exercise

Some level of physical activity is recommended for pregnant dogs. However, strenuous training must be avoided because that can lead to complications.

Vaccination and Parasite Control

Keeping track of your pet’s vaccinations and parasite control is crucial during pregnancy for the mother’s health and her litter.

Get your dog vaccinated within the ten to twelve months before mating, if you are trying to breed her. However, if you get the news unexpectedly and haven’t had her vaccinated in the past few months, be sure to give her vaccine shots no later than 6-7 weeks into the pregnancy.

Also, worm your dog ten days before she goes into labor and every three weeks during the nursing period to ensure no parasites are transferred from the mother to her litter. Frequent worming is essential during pregnancy because the changes in hormonal levels can lead to immature roundworms sitting in your pet’s tissues become active. Once active, these worms can enter the puppies. Therefore, you must take care of these unhealthy critters in their dormant stage.

A Brief Week-by-Week Run-Down of Canine Pregnancy

Week 1

Confirming fertilization in a dog can only be done after 25 days have passed. But an expectant canine starts showing signs of pregnancy since the beginning, such as bouts of morning sickness. You don’t need to make any drastic measures at this stage.

Week 2

In week two, the fertilized eggs enter the uterus and start developing into puppies. You just need to keep your dog safe during this phase and make sure she doesn’t strain herself in any way.

Week 3

In week three, the fertilized eggs attach to the uterus wall, and the forming puppies begin acquiring nutrients from the mother’s body. You will notice an increase in your dog’s appetite during this stage, so make sure you feed her well.

Week 4

Week 4 is that phase of pregnancy when the puppies become susceptible to developmental defects. Therefore, it is advisable to limit your dog’s physical activity at this stage. You should also be regularly in touch with your vet from here on to make sure you’re feeding your pet sufficiently and whether you need to add some supplements to her diet.

Week 5

In week 5, the uterus is filled with amniotic fluid, reducing the risk of abnormality or congenital disabilities in the puppies. Your dog’s weight will start increasing substantially during this stage, so you must carefully follow her diet and give her food formulated for growth and reproduction.

Week 6

Week six is the start of the final stage of your dog’s pregnancy. Her teats will get dark around this time, and she’ll need more food than before. However, you should feed her in small quantities because the uterus will be pressing against her stomach at this stage, making it hard for her to eat large amounts of food.

Week 7

In week 7, your dog will begin to look for a place to give birth, also known as nesting. You should set up a bed for her and line it with soft, linen pads. Encourage your dog to sleep during this phase as she will be exhausted most of the time. Your dog will also have her first milk production during week seven.

Week 8

As the time for delivery approaches, a pregnant dog becomes restless. You should completely limit your dog’s physical activity from this stage onwards to mitigate the chances of premature labor.

Week 9

During the last week of pregnancy, you may notice a loss of appetite in your dog; she might even get more restless and spend more time in bed. You don’t need to do much during this phase, just prepare for the arrival of your puppies and take your dog’s temperature every few hours in a day because a drop from 100-101 degrees to 97 degrees will indicate that she’ll be having her babies soon (possibly in the next 24-48 hours).

Although dogs naturally take care of the delivery, or whelping, process themselves, you should still be prepared to provide veterinary help if a need arises.

The key to getting through your dog’s pregnancy successfully and unscathed is giving her a healthy diet, staying in touch with the vet, and not letting your nerves get the best of you.

And when it’s all over, you’ll be a grandparent to a litter of adorable puppies! Now, how great will that be?!

by Maria A Davidson || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™

Facts About Animal Homelessness:

  1. Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.
  2. The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.
  3. Each year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes. Act as a publicist for your local shelter so pets can find homes. Sign up for Shelter Pet PR.
  4. Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  5. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of cats and only 15 to 20% of dogs are returned to their owners.
  6. 25% of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred.
  7. About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.
  8. It’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.
  9. Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Overpopulation, due to owners letting their pets accidentally or intentionally reproduce, sees millions of these “excess” animals killed annually.
  10. Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.
  11. According to The Humane Society, there are about 3,500 brick-and-mortar animal shelters in the US and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in North America.

Here are a some adoptions for consideration: