Guide to Caring for a Pregnant Dog

You must give your dog the extra care she requires during pregnancy. You have many options to prepare her for labor and delivery. This is also known as whelping. You can learn as much as you need to know to prepare for when she delivers the puppies.

Care during Pregnancy

You should consult your veterinarian when you perceive that your dog is pregnant. Dogs can go through a nine-week period of pregnancy. You must take care of your dog
while you wait for the big day. These are some important things to keep in mind:

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You could either use a whelping container or set up simple bedding in an exercise pen. Whelping pads should be placed in the whelping container.

Exercise

You can allow your dog to exercise throughout her pregnancy. However, she should stop exercising after about four to six weeks.

If you have any concerns or questions about your dog’s health, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

Veterinary Care

You should contact your vet if your dog experiences any vaginal bleeding or discharge while pregnant. Do not delay in bringing your dog to the vet if you see any signs of illness. Even things that are usually treated within a few days can be very serious for a pregnant dog. Complications can affect mother dogs and puppies.

Your dog will most likely have to visit the vet several times during her pregnancy. To confirm the pregnancy, an ultrasound or blood test can take place as soon as 21 days have passed. Your vet will take x-rays approximately 45 days after the start of your dog’s pregnancy to assess the size and number of the pups. Your dog mustn’t receive vaccines during pregnancy.

Preparations for Birth

Talk to your vet once you find out that your dog is pregnant. They will be able to tell you what to expect. Talking to a professional dog breeder is also a great idea. Many breeders can offer great advice on how to handle common problems and the tools that they use.

Nutrition

Your dog won’t need special vitamins or supplements during pregnancy, as long as she has the right diet. Your veterinarian will recommend supplements based on the individual needs of your dog.

Pregnant dogs require more calories and nutrients. They should be fed with food that is formulated to promote growth, such as puppy food. Your dog will need approximately twice the amount of calories by the end of her first trimester. This diet should be continued while she breastfeeds her puppies.

DIY Supplies

You can also make your own whelping kits with these ingredients instead of buying a pre-made kit.

  • Disposable exam gloves
  • Aspiration bulb
  • Locking hemostats
  • Absorbent disposable pads
  • Hand towels and washcloths
  • Digital thermometer
  • Antiseptic (iodine/betadine)
  • Surgical scissors with blunt tips (stainless-steel)

In case of an emergency, you may need the number of your local vet.

How To Tell If Your Dog is Pregnant

A dog pregnancy is not always planned. Due to the short gestation period (between 56 and 70 days), many pet owners may not know their dog is pregnant until she gives birth. You should immediately take your dog to the vet if you see any of these signs:

  • Behavior changes: Dogs that are pregnant may be more clingy than usual. You may notice your dog’s “nest” in the final weeks of pregnancy. This could mean that she will begin to throw away her bedding and other materials to make a whelping space for her pups. As her due date approaches, she might become more restless and irritable.
  • Changes in the nipples: Your dog’s nipples might grow larger, get darker (indicating an increased blood flow), or appear rounder than usual. Later in the pregnancy, they could leak milk.
  • Changes in appetite: Your dog’s appetite may change during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. She may experience “morning sickness” during pregnancy, which can cause her to eat less or vomit more often than usual.
  • Reduced activity: It could indicate that your dog is pregnant if she spends more time sleeping than usual, or is tired more often during activities.

Many of the signs that indicate a dog’s pregnancy are also signs of illness. If your dog’s activity, appetite, behavior, or appearance changes, you should consult your vet. If your dog suddenly gains weight, this is usually a sign that they are pregnant.

How to Feed Your Pregnant Dog

The American Kennel Club suggests that your dog’s weight increases in the second half of her pregnancy. This is because her stomach has less space to hold food. Your veterinarian can help you determine the best diet for your dog.

After you’ve confirmed that your dog is pregnant, it is important to ensure she has the best nutrition possible. It is difficult to work raising puppies! Your vet will approve your dog’s food. If she is healthy and eating high-quality food, you won’t need to make any changes during the first part.

Giving Support to Mother Dogs while Delivering!

If your dog is pregnant, you should give her the best possible care, starting from the time you find out she is pregnant and continuing through the birth.

Your main responsibility is to wait and watch as she enters labor. You will learn what to expect during whelping to help you know when you can step in to help your dog and her puppies.

Most dogs do not require much assistance with whelping, as long as there is no problem. Your assistance will help to keep the puppies and her instincts in check. It is best to make sure you have all the supplies in place before the big day.

Your dog may still possess some survival instincts, but she is not a true wild dog. Your support will be needed during pregnancy and when she gives birth to her puppies.

Exercising Your Pregnant Dog

Avoid strenuous activity or training/obedience-schooling your dog during pregnancy. This can cause stress and could result in unborn puppies being injured by bumps or knocks.

It takes a lot of energy and strength to give birth to multiple puppies. Keep your pregnant dog fit and healthy. Regular walks can help your dog stay fit and healthy for the challenges of giving birth.

Keep walks short as your dog may get weak easily during pregnancy. You should aim for 3 to 5 short walks per day. Keep temperature and terrain in your mind (i.e. No uphill hikes during the heat!)

Take Your Pregnant Dog to the Vet

Ask your vet about the recommended vaccination schedule for pregnant dogs. Talk to your vet if your dog is pregnant and has not had her vaccines. Your dog’s immunity can be passed to the puppies by their mother’s milk.

Regular visits to your vet will ensure that your dog is healthy throughout her pregnancy. Your vet will examine the dog for signs of discomfort and illness when you bring her for the initial confirmation of her pregnancy.

Therefore, your dog should be current on all vaccines. However, you need to make sure that the vaccines are safe for both the unborn puppy and pregnant dog. Roundworms and hookworms may be passed to unborn puppies. Check with your veterinarian for the best flea/worming treatments that are safe for your dog during pregnancy.

Additional Tips for Pregnant Dogs

Dogs can deliver normally and without assistance. Listed below are some useful signs:

  • Timing: Some dogs go into labor slowly. However, if your dog experiences strong contractions lasting more than 45 minutes, or if there is more than two hours between delivery, consult your veterinarian.
  • Extreme pain: Although giving birth is not an easy task for dogs, it shouldn’t cause them extreme pain. You should contact your veterinarian if your dog shows signs of extreme discomfort.

Other signs include trembling, collapsing, or shivering. These are all signs of complications that your dog may likely go through. Dogs will usually give birth to a dark-colored or bloody fluid after their first litter. However, if this happens before that litter, contact your veterinarian immediately.

You’ll be able to discuss your “birth plan” with your veterinarian during regular visits. This will allow you to determine the best place for your dog’s birth, whether the veterinary team should visit your home, how to transport your dog to the veterinary clinic, and which ER facility you can contact.

Conclusion

Dog owners and their dogs don’t need to stress about pregnancy. It will be easier if you are prepared. Within 24-48 hours of your dog giving birth to her puppies, you should take both mother and pups to the vet for a post-natal exam. To prevent unwanted litters, it is a good idea to have your dog spayed if she becomes pregnant accidentally.

Did you find this article useful? Feel free to share your thoughts. We would be happy to hear from you!

Stay tuned for more posts on dog care and much more!

“May Your Home Be Filled With Love And Dog Hair”

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Mark

Founder of Our Dogs World 101

8 thoughts on “Guide to Caring for a Pregnant Dog”

  1. I think the first time I experienced a dog having puppies was when I was around 10 years old. Our neighbors had a dog that was a mix of probably a lab, a bit of collie, and probably some rottweiler in there too. She was a very territorial dog and would defend their yard with very loud barking and snarling even when she wasn’t pregnant. When she had her litter of puppies in their tool shed she was positively dangerous. I remember having to run and climb up onto the roof while she was snapping at my heels. There was no way I was going to be allowed anywhere near her puppies. We recently had our own dog spayed at about 6 months or so. So there will be no chance of any accidental pregnancy there. I think I will leave that business to the breeders.  Cheers, Andy

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  2. I’ve never experienced owning or taking care of a pregnant dog. All the dogs my family and I had when I was small were male, and neutered. I imagine it would be incredible to see how a mother dog takes delivers and takes care of her young, but I don’t think I’d be able to be very helpful honestly haha! Regardless, this was a very informative and well-researched article.

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  3. What a great article, I often wondered myself what caring for a pregnant dog would be like as I have friends that’ are breeders and I often say to myself that it looks like a lot of work to be caring for them in a good manner. I found this article very informative and has taught me a lot about the process of caring for a pregnant dog and all the work that it does come along with. 

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  4. Hi Mark. Thank you for another great article. Your blog is truly best place to all dog lovers and people who learn something more about pet care. I never had pregnant dog, but looking on your post its similar like with people, you need to care, giving support and make sure about proper diet, For sure I will share this article with all my friends who have pregnant dogs.

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