Expecting dogs need extra care and love in the weeks before they give birth. Knowing how to take care of your expecting dog is important for the healthy development of your dog's puppies. If your dog is recently pregnant, these tips can help you take care of your pet before she gives birth.
Make Extra Vet Appointments
The best way to confirm that your pet is actually pregnant is to make an appointment with the veterinarian. Dogs have a gestation period of about 63 days, and the earliest that most dog pregnancies are detectable is at around 21 days.
To find out if your dog is pregnant, your pet's vet can perform a diagnostic test for relaxin. This is a hormone that your dog's body will produce exclusively during pregnancy. About midway through your dog's pregnancy, the veterinarian can also use an ultrasound machine to detect pregnancy.
After the appointment where your dog's pregnancy is confirmed, your pet's vet may ask you to make another appointment before the due date, to ensure that the pregnancy is going well.
These appointments are important for confirming that your pet's pregnancy is healthy and progressing normally. These appointments are also a good chance for you to ask questions about your pet's pregnancy. Write down your questions before meeting with the vet to ensure that you remember to ask all of them.
Change Diet Accordingly
In the first half of pregnancy, your pet's diet will remain the same as it has been throughout adulthood. In the second half of the pregnancy, as the puppies begin to grow and take up more space inside your dog's body, your dog may need to eat smaller, more frequent meals.
Your dog's calorie intake should increase in the final weeks of pregnancy, but not by too much. Obese dogs have a higher risk of complications than other dogs. What is a healthy calorie intake will depend on your dog's size and usual activity levels, so talk to your dog's veterinarian to find out exactly how much you should be feeding your dog.
Puppy food is good for an expecting dog because it's calorie rich and designed to be eaten in small portions. Talk to your pet's veterinarian to find out which brand is best for your dog.
Keep Up Exercise
Pregnant dogs should get moderate exercise throughout pregnancy. Continue to take your dog for walks, and engage in gentle play throughout your dog's pregnancy. Watch your dog for signs that she's getting tired, so you'll know when to stop exercising.
If your dog is used to engaging in challenging physical exercise, you may need to change up your dog's routine for this time. Talk to your pet's veterinarian to find out how long your dog should continue her normal exercise regimen, and when she should make the switch.
Familiarize Yourself with the Birthing Process
While you're waiting for your dog to give birth, familiarize yourself with the dog birthing process. The more you know about what to expect while your dog is expecting, the easier it will be for you to keep your dog comfortable. Familiarizing yourself with dog gestation will also make it easier for you to identify times when your dog should see the vet.
Contact Your Pet's Veterinarian
If you believe that your pet might be pregnant, make an appointment. Your pet's veterinarian can confirm your dog's condition and can provide helpful advice as you care for your pet over the next two months.
For more information about dog pregnancy in general, contact Central Veterinary Hospital. We'll be happy to answer all your questions and give you more information about caring for expecting dogs.