What to expect when your dog is expecting!
Are you getting ready for your dog to have puppies? Having a litter of pups sounds like a lot of fun, but there is much work involved. Here are some tips on how to get your dog and you ready for birth.
The first thing to know is that your dog will be pregnant on average for 63 days. This is not very much time so make sure you are ready.
You will want to make sure that you are feeding your pregnant dog appropriately. Your dog will need to eat more than usual and you may want to transition to a growth type food or puppy food during the pregnancy. You should do this by decreasing the amount of regular food you give your dog each day while increasing the amount of new food. It’s best if you do this over the course of about a week to help prevent loose stool. Check with your veterinarian to see what is appropriate for diet. Make sure to feed your dog a high quality diet. You do not need to supplement the diet with vitamins unless it is recommended by your veterinarian. Always follow their recommendations. Your dog may experience symptoms similar to human morning sickness around the third week of pregnancy. If this lasts longer than one week, take your dog to the veterinarian to see if there are any underlying problems.
You will want to continue regular walks with your dog during the pregnancy. It is important to get some exercise, but if you have a working dog or do sports with your dog, you will want to discontinue these until after the puppies are weaned. However, three weeks prior to delivery, you will want to isolate your pregnant dog from all other dogs. This must continue until at the very least, three weeks after the puppies are born. There are infectious diseases carried by unvaccinated dogs that may not be very harmful to adult dogs but can be fatal to puppies.
If your dog is due for vaccination during the pregnancy, hold off on this until after the puppies are weaned. Vaccination during pregnancy can be harmful to the fetuses. Ideally, you will want to have your dog vaccinated just prior to breeding.
When getting ready to deliver, make sure to provide a comfortable place for whelping and raising the puppies. It should be somewhere where your dog can come and go, but the puppies are confined to.
When it is time to deliver, your dog’s body temperature will drop slightly. You can monitor this with a rectal thermometer. Normal canine temperature is between 100-102 degrees. When it drops below 100 degrees, you can usually expect labor in 24 hours. When your dog starts to go into labor, she will become restless and may pant, shiver, or vomit. This is normal. Make sure to provide fresh water to her at all times. This stage of labor may last up to 12 hours. When she begins to deliver the pups, they will be covered with a thin membrane which must be cleared away. The mother should do this herself, but should she neglect to do this, you will need to clear it away or the pup will suffocate. You will need to tie the umbilical cords in a knot and cut them above the knot. Pups will come about one per hour with up to half an hour of straining in between deliveries. It is not unusual for your dog to take a break of a few hours during delivery.
You will need to call your veterinarian if your dog does not deliver within one day of her temperature drop, she is straining to deliver for more than an hour, takes more than a four hour break between pups, seems to be in great pain, or has been pregnant for more than 70 days. Some breeds require cesarean sections so make sure to discuss this with your doctor prior to delivery. If you feel that anything else unusual is occurring, contact your veterinarian immediately.
It is always important to discuss all of your concerns and what to expect with your veterinarian prior to delivery.