You are walking your dog in the park and you noticed that she doesn’t look as enthusiastic as usual. You wonder why and worry starts to float on your mind. Is she sick? But she doesn’t look sick, in fact she is a little fatter than usual and – oh. She is a little fatter. Coincidentally, her nipples seem protruding more than usual these days. She can’t be pregnant right? Or is she?
If you have female dog that is not spayed, pregnancy is one of the risk you should expect along the way. The risk seems higher if you live in a house and your dog usually stays outdoor. Who knows if one day you forget to close the gate and she spends an hour or two getting cozy with your next door’s dog?
Well, if you somehow find yourself in this situation, please don’t panic. Dogs are intelligent creature. Also, they are instinctively capable to take care and protect themselves even during these delicate times. All you need to do is keep an eye on her and take action when necessary. However, it’s better to arm yourself with resources and knowledge about pregnancy in dog, just in case you need it.
Dogs, like any other mammals, have a cycle of reproduction. In female dogs, the cycle occurs once or twice a year in a three weeks period. When it starts, female dogs will be more receptive toward sexual advances from male dogs. This is because her reproductive organs are ready to do their job. You may notice the signs of heat like temperature increase, enlarging vulva as well as red discharge from said area, excessive licking, and behavior and appetite change.
So, when your female dog received sperm from male dog during this time, the reproductive organ will start to work immediately. During a heat, usually even mating once is enough to impregnate the female dog since her condition is extremely fertile. To avoid this condition altogether, you may want to spay your dog before she experiences her first heat, especially if you don’t think you’ll be able to commit and take care for the new pack of puppies that is coming your way.
It’s important to predict the due date of the puppies. Therefore, you should pay attention to the day your dog mate. Dogs carry their puppy for approximately 62 days. So, counts 62 days after the day she mated and mark the calendar because you’ll want to be on your dog’s side when she is in labor.
If your dog mated without your knowledge, you’ll need to remember the last time she was in heat. Female dog is most fertile during the 10th-14th day during the three week cycle. Count 62 days after from there to get the prediction.
The bump in the stomach usually appears after roughly 30-40 days of pregnancy. If you miscalculated the day she mated, it can be a surprise and you only get a month to prepare to be a new puppy mom. The good news is, it is enough time to prepare.
The safest thing to do is to consult your vet right away, especially if you have no prior experience dealing with dog pregnancy and whelping. This way, if there is any complication or unusual condition (we hope not) you can detect it early. Learn everything about dog pregnancy and whelping.
Prepare a whelping bed in a warm, secure place in the house. Bring your dog there and spend some time together to familiarize her with the location. Put the supplies for whelping near the bed – such as scissors, thread, and a lot of hand towels.
You will want to feed your dog with puppy food. Puppy food contains special nutrients that the puppy will need while they are inside their mother’s womb. Make sure to feed your dog enough. Lack of nutrition is dangerous and much more so during pregnancy. It can even be fatal, both for the dog and the puppies.
After day 42 (or according to your vet’s recommendation) you can take your dog to the vet and get an ultrasound to check the number of the puppies inside. This information will help you to prepare for the whelping process later.
Nearing the due date, keep a closer eye to the dog. If you live together with other people, ask them to keep their eye on her as well. The puppies may pop anytime now, and you’ll want to know when that happens.
The whelping should happen in your own house for the sake of familiarity unless the veterinarian says no. However, pug, bulldog, Chihuahua, Boston Terrier, and Pekingese often experience difficult whelping that needs medical attention. So, if your dog is one of them, consult your vet about what will the best for the dog.
Usually, you can notice the due date when your dog completely loses her appetite. 24 hours before whelping, dog will avoid food. This can be accompanied by temperature drop, restlessness, and abdominal cramp. During that time, a slimy pocket that looks like a grey balloon may pop up from her vulva. Don’t panic, it just means that the puppies are on the way. At some point, the pocket will drop and open the passage for the puppies to the world.
The puppies will be coming one by one. When the first one comes out, she will be covered in a slimy membrane called afterbirth. The mom usually will bit the umbilical cords so it comes off, but if she doesn’t you can help by tying it with thread around 1-1.5 inch from the puppy’s belly and cut the rest off. It is rather disgusting in appearance, but some dog usually eat it. However, there is no real significance nutrients in it and if you don’t want your dog to eat it, feel free to throw it out.
After her pup is membrane-free, she will lick her pup clean and feed her. If she doesn’t because she is too weak or confused, take a towel, rub the pup clean and put her near her mother’s nipple. It is really important for the pup to get her mother’s milk immediately after birth since it gives her some immunity. While she is nursing her first pup, she will prepare to push the next pup. The process may last from 2-20 hours.
Since labor is though, the mother may vomit, urinate, and defecate several times. You can help her becoming more comfortable by cleaning her. That is the normal routine of a whelping. If you find something unusual during the labor – for example excessive bleeding – call your vet immediately.
So, it may sounds like scary stuff, but if you pay extra attention and care to her during her pregnancy and whelping, it isn’t. However, you must always have consulted your vet about this beforehand, so if something unfortunate happen, your vet will be able to grasp the context of the problem quickly and assist you as fast as possible.