Pregnancy in dogs
1. Can I afford the extra food and veterinary medical care to raise healthy pups?
2. Could I find good and loving homes for them all?
Your dog should breed only after the first heat. This will ensure that she is physically and mentally mature, making whelping and puppy rearing easier.
Once you have decided to breed your dog, you need to start preparing for puppies.
Gestation is the period when the fetus develops in the mother’s uterus. In dogs, this period is generally 63 days from the time of ovulation. Because you do not know when ovulation occurred, you should expect puppies to be delivered anytime between 58 and 68 days from when the dog was bred. I advise my clients to expect puppies within 58 â 63 days from the first mating. If by the 63rd day puppies are still not born, and there are no signs of imminent parturition, no need to worry, you could still safely wait another 4 â 5 days before becoming preoccupied.
Diagnosis of pregnancy: Ultrasound can be performed from around day 18 to determine if your dog is pregnant or not.
Physical palpation of the uterus to determine pregnancy is generally performed between day 25 and 36 days after breeding; after 45 days, it is possible to see fetal skeletons on X-rays.
Physical changes: During the first five weeks of pregnancy, there are few noticeable changes in the female. After the fifth week, you may begin to notice weight gain. If only one or two puppies are present, the weight gain may not be substantial, until just before birth.
The abdomen enlarges during the last three weeks. Mammary gland development may be noticed as early as five weeks after mating, but usually milk is not produced until one to two days before birth.
Behavioural Changes: During pregnancy, the female dog may show a change in behaviour, especially in the last few weeks. As the uterus enlarges with the developing puppies, your female may become restless, seek seclusion and may not eat as much as she usually does, due to the pressure of the full uterus on the digestive tract. She may shred papers or bedding, or start digging holes in your yard in an attempt at “nest buildingâ in the last week.
During the last two weeks, your pet may become irritable and should be kept away from small children.
Good nutrition is essential for healthy puppies and mothers. During the first three weeks, nutritional needs change little. During the last five weeks, the female’s nutritional needs increase greatly. The female should be well fed at increased amounts, divided into smaller quantities, more frequently. If you normally use dry dog food, it is advisable to use puppy food (has a high protein content) during the pregnancy period and until the puppies are weaned at six weeks. Fresh water should always be available, since fluid needs are greatly increased.