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How to Take Care of a Pregnant Dog at Home?
Just like humans, pregnant dogs undergo a myriad of changes in their physical and hormonal health that affects their appetite and behaviour. In addition to this, welcoming new puppies is extremely rewarding; however, it requires experience and proper preparation.
This article covers all the crucial factors on what to do when your dog is pregnant for the first time with the purpose of providing complete information to the dog owners.
What Are the Signs That Indicate Your Dog Is Pregnant?
There are a plethora of signs and symptoms that can help a pet owner start preparing for pregnancy. Some of the prominent signs one must look for are:
- Increase in weight
- Increase in a portion of food consumption
- Swollen belly
- Identifying nesting behaviour
- Becoming more affectionate
- Growing irritability
- Growing nipple size
In addition to the above-mentioned factors, some pregnant dogs can also face acute hormonal changes that may lead to a fall in their appetite level. Moreover, during the initial days of pregnancy, hormonal changes in dogs can also lead to a tendency to vomit. For this reason, it is essential to take a dog to a veterinarian for a thorough check-up.
How to Find Out That Your Dog Is Pregnant?
Taking care of a pregnant dog is a daunting task and primarily requires confirmation of the situation. There are many diagnostic tests to determine pregnancy in a dog:
Generally, a veterinarian performs an ultrasound between the period of 25 to 35 days of gestation. Ultrasound is one of the commonly used methods for detecting pregnancy in dogs as it identifies fetal heartbeat and enables one to know the number of puppies the dog will give birth to.
In an ultrasound, one can feel the puppies' heartbeat which is usually 2 to 3 times faster than their mother's.
Palpation is performed under the guidance of a veterinarian at approximately the 28-30 mark. The test is done in the abdomen which makes the puppies feel like golf balls or grapes.
Moreover, the fetus is covered with fluid-filled sacs; hence an assessment of this test requires extreme caution as it may damage the pups if not done properly. The timing in which this test is performed is important to consider, as it takes one month for sacks to change their shape.
3. Hormone Test
To assess pregnancy in dogs, a veterinarian can conduct a blood test pertaining to hormonal examination after 25 to 30 days of gestation. This test shows whether a pregnant dog is producing enough hormone relaxin. The production of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy allows the pet owners to know that a dog is pregnant.
Generally, a veterinarian performs an X-ray after approximately 55 days to identify the puppies' skeletal systems which become prominent at this time. Mainly, an X-ray is performed at this time to get the correct count on how many pups a dog is about to give birth to. This helps dog owners to prepare for the delivery.
What Are the Tips to Care During the Pregnancy of a Dog?
If you, as an owner, are confused about how to take care of a pregnant dog at home, follow the below tips:
As per the veterinarians, reducing any strenuous exercises of dogs during the period of gestation, mainly the first two weeks will increase the implementation of embryos. However, until the belly starts changing its shape, a pregnant dog can perform normal exercises. In the last few weeks of a trimester, it is recommended for a pregnant dog to refrain from any heavy exercise. Instead, short yet frequent walks will be more effective for a dog.
During the time of pregnancy, one of the main concerns of a dog owner is to ‘what to feed a pregnant dog’. To answer this query, one can start by offering great quality dog food and ensuring they have a healthy and preferable weight. Though, in the first to third of her pregnancy, it is not necessary to make any changes in a dog's food intake.
Gradually, in the latter period of the pregnancy, as per the veterinarian’s recommendation, one can bring small changes in the food of a pregnant dog. As a dog's weight will start to increase during the pregnancy’s last weeks, it is ideal for increasing the food intake. This mother will start consuming more food and will crave larger meals to fill up completely.
Vaccination is an important factor to consider during the pregnancy of your dog. As puppies can inherit immunity from their mother, you must ensure that vaccine intake is up-to-date before mating. This will ensure that her antibody levels stay on top during the entire process of pregnancy.
Furthermore, it is important to inform a veterinarian if the vaccines of a pregnant dog are overdue. The doctor will offer guidance on the medicine if they are safe for the mother and her puppies to intake during pregnancy.
4. Visiting the Veterinarian
For dog owners who breed their dogs, it is essential to take the one to a veterinarian for a thorough pre-natal check-up. The doctor will perform multiple tests like a faecal exam to assess the presence of any intestinal parasite or conduct the process of deworming a dog.
Once the pregnancy of a dog is confirmed by a veterinarian, try to make a plan for the smooth delivery of puppies.
How to Take Preparations for Dog Birth?
If dog owners are thinking about how to take care of a pregnant dog, they can start with the process of making a whelping kit and a nesting place. Whelping is the birthing process of a pregnant dog. Generally, the time frame of a dog pregnancy lasts from 63 to 65 days which makes examination and treatment for precautionary care of a dog become essential.
With the constant guidance of a veterinarian, dog owners must prepare a whelping kit for the delivery process. Here is a comprehensive list of what to add to a whelping checklist:
- Paper towels and cloths for cleaning up
- Dry clean towels to keep the new-born puppies clean
- A lot of newspaper and garbage bags for an easy cleanup
- Thermometer to check a dog’s temperature
- Sterilised and clean scissors
- Iodine or rubbing alcohol
- Baby syringe
- Corn syrup or honey
- Bath mats for preparing the bed
Furthermore, keep the contact number of a veterinarian ready during the last few weeks of the pregnancy. For people searching for “what to do when your dog is pregnant for the first time” must first understand and identify signs of labour.
Usually, a few days before helping a dog would start facing a sudden drop in temperatures and constant abdominal contractions. Upon delivery, the dog owner needs to ensure that the puppies are not running out of oxygen supply. In addition, one needs to rub the puppy using a clean and soft towel till one can hear him cry.
Additionally, the mother and her newborn pups need utmost care and attention after the delivery. Hence, it is extremely crucial to keep an eye on them and ensure there are no signs of distress or pain.
How to Offer Help During Dog Birth?
If you are wondering what to give a pregnant dog to help her during the birthing process, then know that dogs are guided by their instincts. Even during pregnancy, a dog will do her best to ensure that her puppies are safe. As a dog owner, one can ensure that the mother and puppies are safe and warm. It is essential to provide a comfortable nesting place after delivery.
What to Do When a Dog Is Pregnant for the First Time?
Here are factors to consider when you find out that your dog is pregnant for the first time. This mostly includes:
- One should set planned appointments with a veterinarian for pregnancy consultation and planning.
- With the planned conduction of abdominal ultrasound, owners will be able to understand how many puppies will be born. Based on that, preparation for birthing can be made.
- Being a caregiver, one must prepare a whelping kit that includes the necessities required at the time of delivery.
- Dog owners must also start providing high-quality dog food to provide proper nutrition and cope with the vomiting tendency.
What Are the Possible Complications in Dog Pregnancy?
Despite offering a plethora of protection, a pregnant dog may face a list of possible complications during labour. Here are the signs that show complications:
- Continuation of contraction and straining for more than 45 minutes yet no puppy is coming out.
- A situation where the mother is too tired to push which makes the puppy stuck in the birth canal.
- Experiencing a drop in temperature for more than 24 hours without a sign of labour.
- Facing extreme pain.
- Gestation period on reaching more than 65 days.
- The time gap between a pup born and the remaining puppies in the belly has reached more than 4 hours.
In addition to these above points, once the mother delivers the puppies, contact the veterinarian for further guidance and assistance. The medical professional will guide you to take care of a pregnant dog after the delivery. Moreover, with proper medicines and treatment, the mother will be able to heal faster, making the entire birthing process seamless.