Making sure that your dog has a healthy pregnancy requires careful planning and patience. For somewhere between 58 to 68 days, the average length of pregnancy for dogs, she will need you to provide her with expert care. You might have guessed that dietary changes and plentiful exercise will be necessary, but you’ll also have to take care of her emotional health as well. There are also certain precautions you will need to take in order to keep your dog and her puppies safe.
At 30 days into your dog’s pregnancy, take her to the vet for a checkup. The vet will perform a blood test to confirm the pregnancy at this time. Do not let your dog receive any vaccinations while she is pregnant since these will harm the fetuses. Immunity from vaccines given before pregnancy will pass to the pups.
Your dog will need to increase her food intake as her pregnancy progresses. Once the initial loss of appetite and nausea associated with the early weeks of pregnancy subside, she’ll be ready to start eating more food. After the first month, she should eat twice as much food as she normally does in order to meet the increased calorie requirements her body needs. Overall, her weight gain should fall between 15 to 25%. Around 35 days into her pregnancy, slowly switch her over to puppy food, which she’ll need when nursing. Do not give your dog any calcium supplements. These are unnecessary and could interfere with her ability to nurse.
Take your dog out for walks so that she gets plenty of exercise, especially if she is overweight. Obesity can cause problems during pregnancy, particularly with blood sugar levels. Keeping your dog in shape will help her maintain a healthy rate of weight gain. After four to six weeks, you need to limit the amount of exercise your dog gets. Light to moderate exercise is still alright, but do not attempt any form of agility training or other training requiring strenuous physical activity. If she is a show dog, avoid showing her. Also avoid obedience training during this time.
Heartworm prevention products are safe to use on your pregnant dog. Be careful with flea products since not all are intended for use during pregnancy. Check the labels before buying any flea product for your dog. If she does have a parasite infestation, such as roundworms or hookworms, the pups will also be infested and will need to be dewormed after birth.
Even though you probably give your dog lots of attention already, she’ll need more during pregnancy. Besides, the happier your dog is, the better off her puppies will be in terms of health, intelligence and agility. Make sure you set aside a special area for her as her due date approaches. Give her a warm, cozy area to call her own so that she’ll be as comfortable as possible when giving birth.
During the final three weeks of your dog’s pregnancy and for three weeks after she gives birth, she’ll need to be kept isolated from other dogs. This protects her from contagious diseases such as Canine herpesvirus, which can lead to miscarriage or death in newborns. Keep her in your yard when she’s outdoors and separated from other dogs in your house. Just before isolation, your dog’s vet will do a radiograph to count the number of pups.
Caring for your pregnant dog is a huge responsibility, but shouldn’t be a burden. Keeping her happy, well-fed and in shape will strengthen the bond between the two of you and ensure a healthy litter of pups.