You will need to be well-educated throughout the whole pregnancy period and well-prepared for the delivery of her puppies. Understand that even though dogs have maternal instincts, they are also dependent on us when it comes to her and her puppies’ needs.
If you are planning for your dog’s pregnancy, make sure her shots are up to date before she is mated because she won’t be allowed to get shots during pregnancy.
If your dog is a regular blood donor, she won’t be allowed to donate blood as well during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The moment you suspect that your dog is expecting, you need to take her to a veterinarian for an ultrasound.
The pregnancy is undetectable for the first few weeks so by the time you realize that her belly has gotten bigger, she is probably already one month pregnant.
An ultrasound can only give you an estimated number of puppies, confirmed heartbeats, and an estimated due date. If you have supervised the mating process, then you’ve most likely taken note of the date they were mated.
Female dogs carry their puppies between 58 to 68 days, which means that their gestation period is only about 2 months. Pre-natal vitamins and proper nutrition are essential during these months for the proper formation of her puppies and for your dog’s health.
Things to remember during her pregnancy:
- Make sure she eats on time. The puppies in her belly are taking in as much nutrients as they can, so their mother cannot afford to be hungry. Not only does she need to eat on time, but she also needs to be fed with high-quality dog food, preferably the organic kind. You could also prepare a home-cooked meal by boiling meat, chicken liver or pork liver and adding in carrots, cabbage or leafy vegetables.
- Make sure she takes her vitamins. Once you take her to the vet she will be prescribed a multi-vitamin, iron, and calcium. She needs to take them every day to ensure that she and her puppies are in optimum health.
- Settle her in a quiet room. She needs to rest in a room that lets in as little noise as possible to avoid stress and to minimize her barking. The more relaxed she is, the more developed her puppies are.
- Be extra careful in giving her a bath. Some people would say that a pregnant dog should not be given a bath, but this is not true. The only reason it is discouraged is that bathing can be a cause of physical stress and minor accidents such as slipping. If your dog is generally relaxed during baths, then there should be no problem. Just remember to be careful in rubbing the different parts of her body especially her belly.
- Remember to go back to the vet for her next scheduled ultrasound and x-ray. Ultrasounds help detect heartbeats, while x-rays can give an accurate count of puppies.
- Save your vet’s phone number and the contact numbers of nearby emergency clinics.
- Prepare the must-haves for whelping:
- Whelping box – search the internet for a DIY whelping box or other substitutes.
- Towels or bedsheets – to be used as their bedding.
- Newspaper – for easy cleanup.
- Rags – for wiping and cleaning.
- Heating pads – to help the puppies stay warm.
- Round-tipped scissor – in case you need to cut the umbilical cord.
- Hemostatic clamp – to help reduce the bleeding when you fold the umbilical cord.
- Unwaxed dental floss –to tie the umbilical cord.
- Surgical gloves – to avoid passing on bacteria to puppies when you touch them.
- Scale – to weigh each puppy.
- Thermometer – to monitor the puppies’ and mom dog’s temperature.
- Notepad and pens – to take down notes when monitoring their temperature, weight, time of feeding, etc.
- Colored ribbons – to help you identify the puppies and their gender (because newborn puppies tend to look identical).
- Puppy milk substitute – to be used as a breastmilk substitute in case momma dog gives birth to a handful of puppies and she couldn’t feed them all.
- Preemie bottles – to feed the puppies.
Things to remember during her whelping:
- Avoid touching and handling the puppies unnecessarily. You may feel as if you need to help your dog every step of the way, but you don’t have to. Her maternal dog instincts will kick in and she could pretty much do it on her own. Of course, you would need to move the puppies to line them up properly or help them latch, but avoid carrying them for no reason.
- Observe if the momma dog will cut her puppies’ umbilical cord. This is part of her maternal instincts. However, if she had gotten pregnant at an early age, these instincts might not kick in yet and you would have to take the initiative. Cut the cord using a round-tipped scissor, clamp it using a hemostatic clamp, and tie it using an unwaxed dental floss. Watch some youtube videos and be educated in this process, just in case.
- Call the vet if the interval between the birth of the puppies exceeds two hours.
- Call the vet if there is a dark green or bloody discharge before the first puppy comes out. This is considered an emergency case and it could mean that the puppies’ lives are in danger.
- Go back to the vet if your dog hasn’t given birth 64 days after mating.
- Count the number of placentas. All placentas must be expelled or it could cause infection and complications to your dog.
- Make sure all puppies are breathing and have latched on to their mother for breastfeeding.
Talk to your dog’s veterinarian and ask for a list of do’s and don’ts during pregnancy and whelping. Watch youtube videos of whelping dogs and take note of important things.
You need to be involved in your dog’s journey into motherhood because she would need all the support she can get. Be prepared to sacrifice your time, as the first stage of labor could take up to 24 hours, and the second stage could reach up to 12 hours. Help her recover and increase her breastmilk by continually giving her vitamins and nutritious foods after giving birth.