It’s very exciting if your dog is pregnant, and you will want to know how to give her the special care she deserves at this time. You also need to prepare for your pregnant dog’s labor and delivery (also called whelping) so that you’ll be ready for the big day. Pregnancy in dogs is about nine weeks, and she will need extra special attention before those adorable puppies arrive on the scene.
- It’s ok to exercise your dog during most of her pregnancy, but eliminate strenuous or stressful activities after four to six weeks – stick to gentle walks.
Nutrition for a Pregnant Dog
Your pregnant dog is growing several new lives in her body, so she needs more nutrients and calories than before. In fact, by the time she’s about halfway through her gestation period, she’ll need approximately twice the calorie intake that she required before pregnancy. Feed your pregnant dog food that has been specially formulated for growth, e.g., puppy food. For detailed information on your dog’s diet before and after the birth, click here.
- Generally speaking, your pregnant dog will not need any special supplements or vitamins as long as she is fed a proper diet. However, if your dog has special needs, talk to your vet.
Veterinary Care for Your Pregnant Dog
If you think your dog is pregnant, your vet can perform an ultrasound and/or a blood test to confirm that yes, your dog is going to be a mother. This can be done as early as 21 days into the pregnancy. Around 45 days, your vet can take x-rays to determine the number and size of the pups.
- Note: your dog should not be vaccinated during her pregnancy.
How Many Puppies Should I Expect?
Normal litter size varies between one and twelve. Guinness records a world record of twenty-four puppies, given birth by a Neapolitan Mastiff. Generally, big dogs have larger litters because their size enables them to safely carry more puppies.
Preparing for the Birth
Once you know your dog is pregnant, start gathering supplies you are going to need. First of all, you will need a whelping box. You can buy a box specially designed for whelping or set up some comfortable bedding in an exercise pen. A whelping mat goes inside the box or you could just use towels or blankets. Aside from these two major items, you will need a whelping kit. You can buy an already assembled kit or make your own. For more detailed help on what you will need, click on this link.
Helping Your Pregnant Dog During the Birthing Process
Fortunately, most dogs don’t need a lot of support with whelping as long as there are no complications. Your dog’s instincts will guide her, but your assistance can help keep her and the puppies safe, warm, and comfortable. Click here to learn what to expect when she goes into labor.
When You Should Be Worried
If you notice any vaginal bleeding or discharge during your dog’s pregnancy, contact your vet for advice. If you see any signs of illness, take your pregnant dog to your vet immediately. Issues that can typically wait a few days might be more serious in a pregnant dog.
- Make sure you have your local emergency vet’s number in case things start happening in the middle of the night and something appears to be wrong. If you live in the area of Columbia, SC, CVETS is the place to call. We stand ready to help you with any emergency related to your pregnant dog.