Summary: Prenatal dog care is critical to having a healthy litter of puppies. We review tests you should complete before your dog mates. We also focus on 7 dog prenatal care tips.
Before We Begin…
You are reading this article for a reason. Either your dog is already pregnant, or you are considering breeding her. If she is already expecting, congratulations! If you are considering breeding, thank you for taking the time to research before taking that step. Before breeding your dog, you should have her tested for disease, update her shots, and make sure she is healthy (and old) enough to breed. She should be free of external and internal parasites. It is extremely important to have your dog and her potential mate tested for brucellosis. Taking these precautions BEFORE breeding is highly recommended by having Vet checks before breeding.
How to Care for a Pregnant Dog?
If your dog is already pregnant, this is not the time to get her immunizations updated. Wait until the puppies are weaned before taking her in to have them updated. If she does have parasites, you should talk to your vet. He/she can recommend medications that are safe for expecting females to ingest. It is also a good idea to have your dog tested to make sure she is actually pregnant. Some dogs will have false pregnancies.
The dog gestation process lasts about 63 days. The first day of her gestation is the first day she was bred. (Use our Dog Due Date Calculator to determine the due date.) The most important thing to remember is the recommendations of your vet should be taken over anything and anyone else. Your vet knows your dog and your situation better than anyone else. Also, trust your judgment. If you have done the research, you will know what to watch for and the best way to spoil your pregnant pooch.
7 Dog Prenatal Care Tips
- Food: If you are feeding your dog a high quality food already, you are in great shape. If not, switch slowly to a high quality food. Many experts suggest puppy food. Take about a week to make the switch by mixing the new food with the old food, using a little more each day. Some veterinarians will recommend adding a scrambled egg to your dog’s diet or some cottage cheese. Talk to your vet to see what he recommends for your situation.
- Fresh Water: Be sure your little lady always has access to fresh water. Dehydration isn’t good for any animal, especially when they are pregnant.
- Exercise: If your dog was in good shape before pregnancy, you are doing GREAT. If not, don’t change your habits suddenly. Ease her into an exercise routine. During the first week of pregnancy, your dog can participate in her regular activities as long as you are careful to keep her from getting injured. Weeks 2-7 moderate exercise is recommended. Avoid roughhousing. A daily walk is a fantastic exercise for expecting moms.
- Vitamins: The use of prenatal vitamins is widely disputed. You will have to talk with your vet and use your best judgment as to your course of action.
- Constipation: It is not uncommon for your pregnant dog to become constipated. If this happens, use suppositories, not laxatives or mineral oils. Again, talk to your vet.
- Medications: As with human pregnancy, some medications are safe to take while expecting and others can be very harmful to your dog. Talk to your vet about any medications before giving them to your dog.
- Whelping box: During the last 1-2 weeks of pregnancy, it’s a good idea to have a whelping box set up. The box should be large enough for your dog to turn around in and have a lip at the opening so puppies cannot crawl out. There are many different ways to build your own dog whelping box, or you can purchase one.
Keep the week of the expected delivery date open. Talk to your vet and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The more you know, the better prepared you will be. But most importantly, have fun spoiling your dog. She will love extra tummy rubs and attention.
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