Dog Disease - Caring for the Expectant Dog

Maybe it was planned, or maybe she got out or her mystery man got in at just the wrong time. But from the swelling of her belly, it’s clear that your dog is expecting. Dogs have been having litters of pups without any help from us for a very long time now, so you can cancel the Lamaze classes. It is a good idea, however, to take your mom to be to the vet for a checkup, says Christine Dresser, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Medina, Ohio, and a pug breeder. Your vet can help to determine how many weeks along she is. And by talking to your vet, you will understand and feel at ease about the pregnancy, the process of birth and what to do if there’s an emergency. There are also thing you can do for the expectant mother, and preparations to be made for the big day.

The Telltale Signs:
The pregnancy will last 57 to 63 days, or eight or nine weeks, although it’s hard to tell a dog is pregnant until at least the fifth week. Ideally, your dog will be at least two years old, in good health, with her vaccinations up to date. A bigger belly doesn’t always occur in first timers, but the nipples do tend to enlarge, notes Bonnie Wilcox, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice Preemption, Illinois, and co-author of The Atlas of Dog Breeds and Successful Dog Breeding.  Your dog might also put on some weight and be a little more cranky and demanding than usual.

An ultrasound is expensive, but you may want to take your dog along for one if you can’t stand not knowing if she’s pregnant or not. It will give you confirmation at about 24 days. It might also be worth considering if you need to plan time off from work around the time she’s due, or if she has any work around the time she’s due, or if she has any health problems. There are certain medications, such as corticosteroids, that should be avoided because they can affect the litter, explains Glenn Craft, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in San Clemente, California.

As the pregnancy proceeds, your dog’s breasts and nipples will become more prominent. In the final seven to ten days, she’ll start to display nesting behavior and look for a safe, comfy spot to have her pups. This is the time to introduce her to the whelping box that you’ve prepared and lined with newspaper. She’ll probably circle inside it and shred the newspaper until she’s satisfied with her nest.

“If she’s a young dog, she’s going to seem very concerned, yet not really know why she’s doing it.” Says Dr. Craft. To ease her mind, place the box in a quiet area away from the household hustle and bustle. She’ll appreciate your support, but keep it calm and low-key.

Food for Two, Five or Ten:
There’ll be no cravings for ice cream in the middle of the night. And as long as you feed her good, high-quality food, you don’t need to change her diet during the first three to six weeks. Toward the end of pregnancy, gradually change her over to a high-performance lactation formula or puppy food – this will give her on this food while she’s nursing.

For the last two weeks, feed your dog three or four meals a day, recommends Camille Mcardle, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in New Hope, Minnesota. “She doesn’t have the capacity in her abdomen for the stomach to fill very much. Let her have as much as she’ll eat in 15 minutes.”
Supplements aren’t a good idea, especially calcium or other minerals, says Dr. Wilcox. “They can cause abnormalities in the developing puppies, or a severe depletion of calcium in the blood when your dog tries to nurse,” she explains.

Red raspberry leaves given as a tea during the last few days of the pregnancy can help reduce stress and settle the mother-to-be, says Dr. Craft. “Raspberry can also strengthen contractions and lubrication during birth,” he explains. You can use dried raspberry leaves or raspberry tea bags, which you’ll find at health food stores. Pour two cups of boiling water over two teaspoons of leaves or one bag, then leave it to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. When it’s cool, your dg can drink the tea. If she doesn’t like it, mix in her food.

Staying Active:
Exercise is especially important for a pregnant dog. It keeps her muscles toned, and that helps during labor. Do what you usually do. Take her on her regular walks and let her continue her other activities until she gets too big and ungainly to enjoy them.

It she’s used to jumping in field trials, its okay until she’s uncomfortable,” says Dr. Wilcox. “She shouldn’t just laze around.” Even at the end of the pregnancy, be sure your dog has a turn or two around the yard each day.

Grooming, Please:
So she’s a bit on the wide side. That’s no reason for her not to look and feel her usual gorgeous self. And all dogs like to feel clean. So groom her as usual, and give her baths when necessary. Make sure you keep her out of drafts until she’s totally dry, though. And if she needs a bath in the last two or three weeks, be extra gentle so the unborn puppy aren’t harmed or disturbed.