“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” - Mother Theresa
Proper care for our dogs is very essential especially during pregnancy. Remember, you are not only taking care of your dog rather you are taking care of your dog and her soon to be puppies. It is important to be alert to any danger that may cause harm to your dog. Every dog parent must take note of these steps from Dogsaholic to protect the health of their dogs during pregnancy:
- Provide them with a healthy and nutritious diet.
It is important to give your dog a healthy diet even before they breed since the puppies’ development will depend on the nutrients that have been stored in the mother’s body long before the pregnancy. But, this does not mean that you should feed them the same amount of food all throughout the pre-natal period. Your pet’s body will undergo changes that will require changing the amount of nutrients that they need as well, dogsaholic says.
During the first half of their pregnancy or from day 1 to 30, it is not that important to significantly increase their nutritional supply. This is due to the fact that the puppies will grow no more than 30% of their full size during this period. Adding more food than what the developing fetus needs at this point will lead to weight gain on the part of the mother and this can present a problem either during the whelping or even on the development of the puppies.
Supplementation will only be recommended if your dog is underweight but if she is otherwise healthy, adding more vitamins and minerals can actually disturb their hormonal balance. Adding a lot of calcium or vitamin D for example, can affect the hormones that naturally release calcium in their body which can lead to eclampsia when they begin to nurse their puppies.
Calcium can only be an important part of their diet during the last days of the pregnancy in order to relieve birth pains and help them contract the uterus. In terms of their caloric intake, you can begin to double the size of their meal portions after the 30th day of their pregnancy. This is the time when the puppies will be forming rapidly and this will give a higher demand for nutrients.
But make sure to give the meals in smaller portions but more frequently as the dog’s stomach will not be able to accommodate a large meal due to the growing size of the puppies. Recommended portions of food should be at least 29 to 30% protein, 15 to 17% of fat, and the rest are carbohydrates. Make sure that their foods are easy to digest so as not to tax their body of energy for digestion. Water should also be available at all times since your dog will have an increased need for hydration during this period.
- Minimize stressors in their immediate environment.
Your dog will be very sensitive during this period and they can either withdraw or seek a lot of attention during their pregnancy. Although it could be good to have a lot of people paying attention to your pet, it could also mean stress to them. As much as possible remove all sources of possible stress from your pet’s immediate environment such as noise, dirty surroundings, toxic materials, rearranging of furniture, a lot of guests coming in and out of the house, or a change of residence. This will put your dog in a lot of stress and it can cause them to miscarry.
During the last 4 weeks of your pet’s pregnancy, it would be best to separate them from the other dogs if you have any. This is to prevent any occurrence of rough play or fights where the pregnant dog’s belly can be bumped or hit with such force that it can kill the puppy inside. Dietary changes can also be a source of stress for your dog during pregnancy. Avoid giving them a new diet to help “provide” for their increased dietary needs. Feed them their usual food but about 10 to 25% more during the first 30 days and then double the servings after that period.
- Ask for your vet’s recommendation with regards to medications.
During pregnancy almost all types of medication are not recommended but if your pregnant dog really needs them, then you should ask your vet for their recommended treatments. They can prescribe de-wormers and anti-flea and tick treatments which are known to be safe for pregnant dogs. Vaccination, however, should be avoided as it can affect the fetuses.
There had been some cases where puppies were born blind or deformed due to vaccination during pregnancy. The serum of these vaccines can definitely have a negative effect on the puppies since their immune system are not yet fully developed. If possible, it would be better to have your pet vaccinated before they are bred. The increased amount of antibodies after the administration of the vaccine will help ensure that her puppies will have a strong immune system as well.
- Have your pet checked up by your vet at least three times during the whole pregnancy period.
In order to make sure that your pet is carrying on just fine with their pregnancy, it is important to have them undergo some check-ups during the beginning, middle, and last phase of their pregnancy. This is to make sure that any developmental problems are detected during these crucial phases and further problems avoided.
Your pet’s first check will be about 21 to 30 days after breeding. This is to determine whether your dog is really pregnant or not. The second one will be at about 35 to 45 days into her pregnancy and this is to get an ultrasound of her puppies. At this stage, you can determine how many puppies will be in the litter. Although others will recommend an X-ray, this may actually harm the puppies due to the radiation.
The last check up will be a few days before the birthing which can vary from the 57th day to the 67th day from breeding. This is to make sure that everything is fine for the birthing and that there are no complications whatsoever that can affect it. At this time, your vet may recommend some calcium supplements for your pet to help aid uterine contractions.
Your dog will be capable of getting pregnant once she turns 6 months old and above and they will have a fertile cycle which occurs every year. It is not recommended to have your dogs bred during the first two cycles as their bodies are still developing during this period and any pregnancy can greatly affect both their health and their puppies as well. It is therefore important to avoid any unwanted pregnancies by keeping your dog on a leash and out of reach of other male dogs during their first two cycles.
Also, breeding a small female dog with a large male dog can also present problems during birthing so make sure that you either can afford a caesarean operation on your dog or that you look well after them to avoid any unwanted encounter with a larger breed. Pregnancies come with corresponding responsibilities especially when the puppies are born. Make sure that you can give them the time and care that your dog and her puppies would need once they are born.
Caring for a pregnant dog is much similar to human pregnancy care. It requires time, effort and a lot of energy. Just like in humans, this is also the time where they need love and affection more than ever. The things mentioned above are not the only ways to achieve proper care. Take note that our main goal is to make sure our pregnant dogs stay healthy and are candidates for safe delivery.
The next chapter will introduce us to a number of tips for dog birth preparation. Consistency is everything. Let us be consistent caretakers and caregivers to our buddies especially in this precious moment of their life.
Next Stop: Dog Birthing Preparation