Understanding Dog Pregnancy
A number of dog owners are interested in breeding. If you are one of these owners, then it is very important that you understand the stages of pregnancy in dogs, so that you can provide the best care and be prepared for the birth.
You will need to know what your dog requires during her pregnancy, and the level of aftercare that she will need. To start all of this off, it is important that you understand the fundamentals of dog pregnancy.
Pregnancy And Your Dog
Female dogs have heat cycles, and they are only fertile during these cycles. In an adult dog, the heat cycle will appear every six months and sometimes once a year. The gestation period of a dog is between 58 to 65 days, and the average time is 63 days from the date of conception.
A dog pregnancy test can be conducted using ultrasound, or a blood test can be done. You can normally feel if your dog is pregnant by feeling her uterus, and this is known as palpating.
Preparing For Breeding
You need to make sure that you make the right preparations for dog breeding. The first of these is to ensure that the vaccinations for your bitch are up to date. You should take your bitch to the vet and have her thoroughly checked out. If she has worms, then get her treated for this before she gets pregnant.
You should check out both your bitch and the stud for the sexually transmitted disease called canine brucellosis. This is particularly nasty, and can cause infections in the reproductive organs, abortions during late term and even make both sexes sterile.
Give Your Pregnant Dog The Right Nutrition
The growing fetuses in your dog’s body will place many demands on her, so providing her with the best nutrition is critical. Provide her with the best premium dog food that contains real meat protein.
Ask your vet about the best diet for your dog. Using additional supplements should be avoided unless your vet specifically recommends them. A balanced, nutritional diet can be compromised with more supplements.
When your dog is pregnant, she will probably want to eat a lot, so make sure that you have planned for this by having adequate supplies of the right food. She will need the extra nutrition to cope with the demands of the litter she is carrying.
What About Exercise?
Throughout your dog’s pregnancy, and afterwards, she will need plenty of exercise. Exercising when she is pregnant will ensure that she is in the best physical condition possible to cope with the stresses and strains of pregnancy.
During your dog’s pregnancy, make sure that she gets gentle exercise on a regular basis so that her muscles will be toned in preparation for birth. The simplest way to do this is through walking. Since walking is low impact, there is little chance that your dog will injure herself or put her pups in any danger.
When your bitch has given birth, let her concentrate on her pups for the first few days. As it is approaching two weeks after the birth, take her on short walks so that she gets some exercise a few times a week.
Preparing For Whelping
As the time for whelping draws closer you need to make some preparations. The first thing you will need is a whelping box for the delivery of the puppies. When the 56th day of gestation arrives, take your dog’s temperature 12 hours apart, twice a day.
Her temperature should be either 100°F or 101°F. If her temperature goes down to 97°F for two consecutive temperature readings, then this means that labor is likely to start within the next day.
Have a clean pair of scissors to hand that have been cleaned with alcohol. Your bitch should cut the cord herself, but if she doesn’t then you will need to assist. Make sure that clean towels are available for cleaning the puppies.
The Three Stages Of Dog Labor
In the first stage of labor it is likely that your dog will be very restless. This normally occurs 24 hours before the second stage of active labor begins. If there are newspapers in the whelping box she may well shred them. There is also a strong possibility that she will not feel like eating.
The second stage of labor is where she will push. When a puppy is starting to emerge, you will see a dark bubble in the vulva. Do not break this puppy sac until the puppy is fully out. After the pup is born, you will see a cord attached to the sac which is the placenta. Each puppy will have its own placenta. Sometimes the placentas are not expelled until the next contractions start.
Your dog should instinctively open the sac on her own straight away, but is she doesn’t do this then you can open it using your fingernails. You will need to wipe any mucus and other liquid clear of the puppy’s muzzle.
Most bitches will cut the umbilical cord, but if she doesn’t then tie the cord off about an inch from the puppy’s body. Then use the scissors to cut the cord between the placenta and the knot that you have made.
Vigorously rub down each puppy with a towel to ensure that any fluids are expelled from the lungs. There may be ten minute pauses between the deliveries of each puppy, but sometimes this does not take that long. If your dog has strained for over 60 minutes and not given birth, you should call your vet for help.
The third stage is post birth, and your dog should be more relaxed and concentrating on caring for her puppies. At this stage, try to entice her to eat, so that she keeps her strength up and is able to produce milk for her new pups. A few days after the birth, your bitch will be discharging blood from her vulva. This should be less and less each day until it stops.
After The Birth
You need to check on your dog’s condition after she has given birth. The next day after birth, take your dog and her pups to the vet to make sure that all is well. The vet may give her pitocin to assist in the contracting of the uterus.
Continue to take her temperature and watch for spikes over 102°F, as this can indicate an infection. Also monitor her breasts for sores during nursing, and look for hard spots that are overly warm as this could be a mastitis infection. Vaginal discharges should be monitored carefully as well. Be sure to keep the whelping box clean.
Get Your Dog A Good Bed
If you want to breed then you need to take really good care of your dog. A comfortable bed will help her to get the right amount of rest. Please read our reviews of the best dog beds.