for a Pregnant Dog/Cat
Discussed by Dr. Parveen, Samina; Veterinary Officer, Govt. of W.B.
Reviewed by Dr. Mondal, Ramiz; Veterinary Physician
Caring for a pregnant dog can be an exciting time but also a little nerve-racking at first. What do you need to do as a pet parent to help your canine companion through her pregnancy
Once your dogs or cats pregnancy is confirmed, you must now become more familiar with their needs. This will help your dog become healthier throughout her pregnancy and to avoid unwanted incidents that can harm her or her puppies.
Normal exercise for your pregnant dog is totally fine until their belly is enlarged. But take note that during your dog’s last trimester, you should lessen the walks and make them shorter. Remember, your pregnant dog needs to save her energy to carry her puppies.
This means your pregnant dog can have a calm and non-strenuous exercise. They can still go on a short walk for about 10 to 15 minutes that can be once or twice a day. This can tone their muscles and give benefits to their pregnancy and birthing process. Also, light playtime won’t hurt anybody.
2. Proper Nutrition
Of course, pregnant dogs should receive the proper nutrition. Make sure to give them quality dog food and vitamin supplements that are vet recommended. Also, keep an eye on their weight and their diet, you can slowly increase the amount of food but don’t feed them too much since it can cause gastric obstruction that leads to the repeated episodes of discomfort.
The diet should have plenty of calories, at least 29% of protein, 17% of fats, carbohydrates, and calcium. Take note that excessive amounts of vitamins and supplements can harm your dog’s puppy.
For instance, too much vitamin D or calcium can cause calcification of the soft tissues of the fetus, as well as other birth defects.
First and foremost, a complete, balanced and nutritious diet is of the utmost importance in keeping your pregnant dog in good health, as it will prepare her for the next 9 weeks or so of pregnancy and a further 4-6 weeks where she will be under enormous pressure while feeding her litter of puppies.
3. Veterinary Clinic Visits
If you’re planning to breed your dog, it’s recommended to go to the vet for a prenatal checkup. This includes vaccinations (if their vaccinations are not up to date), fecal exam (to check if there are intestinal parasites), and de-worming.
It’s important to make an appointment with your vet before breeding or if you think that your dog is pregnant so you can easily confirm a dog’s pregnancy. Since pregnancy can be crucial it’s important to seek expert advice and assistance for a healthier pregnancy for your dogs.
An ultrasound, amongst others, can be performed to confirm pregnancy and may also assist in determining how many puppies mum is carrying, however it is not always accurate. Radiographs and blood tests can also be used.
It is important to seek veterinary advice before starting or stopping any of your dog’s healthcare and preventative treatments such as intestinal worming, heartworm prevention or flea control while she is pregnant.
4.Vaccination and Parasite Control:
Its important to ensure your dog is up to date with her worming and vaccinations before she falls pregnant. Sometimes, changes in hormone levels during pregnancy cause immature roundworms that are sitting in the tissues of the body to become active and even enter the milk supply, these can infect the puppies when they feed from her. Hookworms can also be transferred through the milk.
Puppies can be wormed from 2 weeks of age.
If your pregnant dog has not been vaccinated within the last 10-12 months a check-up and booster is recommended prior to her being mated.
A post whelping check is recommended with your veterinarian 24 hours after the birth of the last puppy. This allows your vet to thoroughly examine your dog and check for adequate milk production, retained foetuses and asses her body condition. At the time of the examination, your vet will also examine the newborn puppies, assesses their body condition and look for any physical abnormalities such as a cleft palate.
Caring for a whelping dog:
Once the puppies are born your dog may have a variable appetite for the first few days; she may also have a green-blackish diarrhoea particularly if she has eaten the foetal membranes at whelping -this is normal
- Provide her with clean bedding;
- Avoid loud noise and disturbing her unnecessarily while she is nursing her pups. While nursing her litter this is the time that she may become excitable, anxious or even become aggressive. She is a protective mum and needs her privacy and space.
- Feed her small amounts often. There are specific foods available for lactating dogs. Leave non-perishable food out for her throughout the day, any moist or canned food should be offered & if not eaten taken away after 15 minutes.
- Have fresh water available which is easily accessible to her.