Almost everyone loves puppies. However, before puppies are born, female dogs go through a lot. As their owner, it can be a lot of work. Keeping your pregnant dog healthy and safe is important for her well-being and the well-being of her puppies. Here is what you need to know about caring for a pregnant dog.
Signs your dog may be pregnant
Some dog owners may have planned to breed their dogs, while others may have not. If you are wondering if your dog may be pregnant, there are a few different signs to look out for. These can include weight gain, increased nipple size, and an increase in her appetite. If you notice any of these signs or believe your dog may be pregnant, be sure to take your dog to the vet for diagnostic testing.
Take your dog to a vet
Caring for a pregnant dog requires help from a professional. Even if you already know your dog is pregnant, you should take her to the vet for regular check-ups and vaccinations. Once the puppies are born, they will also need to have regular shots and check-ups.
Feed her a well-balanced diet
Feeding your pregnant dog a well-balanced diet is so vital for her health and the health of her growing puppies. It is recommended that you do not feed your dog a homemade diet during this time. This is because there is no way to know exactly how many vitamins and minerals your dog is getting. Many vets recommend food that has been tested and formulated. If you do plan to feed your dog homemade meals, discuss with your vet what your dog will need to eat to make sure she is getting the proper nutrients. For more information, read our article, “Most Vital Nutrients for Dogs”.
Supplies to have for delivery
You will also need to be ready for your dog to give birth. The average pregnancy term for a dog is 9 weeks. These weeks can go by quickly, so being ready will give your dog and her puppies the best chance at a healthy delivery. Here are a few things to have ready before your pregnant dog goes into labor:
- A whelping box – During labor, dogs will want a warm, quiet, and safe place where they can give birth. Having a whelping box made for her will help prevent her from giving birth in a closet or on a bed. Just be sure to get her used to the box beforehand until she is comfortable with that space.
- Newspaper, old towels, old blankets – This will help with cleaning things up after the puppies are born. Having old towels or blankets out will also give your dog and her puppies a warm and comfortable place to nurse and sleep.
- Dry and clean towels – After birth, the puppies will need to be wiped down with a dry towel.
- Clean scissors and unwaxed dental floss – If your dog does not chew off the umbilical cords herself, you will need to cut them and tie them off with unwaxed dental floss. Talk to your vet for more information on this.
- Iodine – Keep a bottle of this hand disinfecting umbilical cords after they have been cut.
- Thermometer – Having this on hand while your dog is pregnant will help you to know when your dog is going to give birth. When your dog's temperature drops to 99 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, she is about to go into labor.
- Heating pad – The puppies will need to stay warm after they are born. A heating pad on a low-temperature setting can do just the trick.
- A phone number for your vet – In case you have questions or if something goes wrong, have the number of your dog’s vet on hand.