What Should I Do if My Dog is Pregnant?

August 24, 2021

How to care for my pregnant dog?

One of the most exciting things that pet owners experience is when our momma dog gives birth to her puppies. This life-changing moment is equally exciting and nerve-racking at the same time, especially for first-time pet owners. 

When puppies arrive, there is a lot of joy, excitement, and relief. With a new litter of pups, you have a lot of work ahead of you. After giving birth, the mother dog also requires special attention. We are here to provide you with essential pointers to ensure that your momma dog aftercare will be as easy as possible.

First things first, you'll have to keep a tight eye on her to make sure she's eating and sleeping appropriately and staying healthy. To nurse and care for her puppies, a mother dog requires appropriate nutrition. A mother dog should be fed high-quality puppy chow as well as a vitamin/mineral tablet. When the puppies are weaned, she should weigh the same as she did when she was bred.

How would I know if my dog is pregnant?

To determine if your dog is pregnant, watch out for a few signs:

  • Your dog eats significantly more
  • Your dog is gaining weight
  • Swollen belly and nipple size is slightly larger
  • Rests more often
  • More affectionate
  • Irritable 

These signs can mean that your dog is indeed pregnant, but in some cases, there could be other causes. We recommend that you go to your veterinarian and perform diagnostic testing to get more accurate results.

Palpation

If you know when your dog was bred, your veterinarian can do belly palpation around the 28-30-day mark if you know the date.

At this stage, puppies feel like little golfing balls or grapes on the dog's belly, depending on how big your dog is. These "balls" are fluid-filled sacks surrounding the fetus. Abdominal palpation must always be performed with the help of a veterinarian, as it can harm the pups if not done right. 

Ultrasound

When your dog undergoes 25-35 days of gestation, your veterinarian can start performing an ultrasound. Through this procedure, you will have an estimate of how many pups are inside the mom's belly by the amount of heartbeats detected by the ultrasound. 

Hormone Test

Pregnant dogs produce a unique hormone called Relaxin, and your veterinarian can determine whether your dog is pregnant by extracting blood samples.

X-ray

X-ray tests should be done at 55 days or more to make sure that the tiny skeletal systems of the puppies would be detected. This text will also show you accurately how many pups are to be expected on your dog's delivery.

How to care for a pregnant dog?

Once you have confirmed that your dog is indeed pregnant, you need to make sure that she is healthy during her pregnancy. 

  • Make sure that she receives proper nutrition. Feed your dog with high-quality dog food and always make sure she maintains a healthy weight. If ever she decreases in weight, contact your veterinarian. During the last few weeks of her pregnancy, it is advised to increase her food intake by 35-50%. 
  • Always make sure that your dog gets the right amount of exercise she needs. During the first two weeks of pregnancy, slightly strenuous exercise is recommended to enhance the implantation of the embryos. And when the belly starts to enlarge, switch to a normal exercise routine.
  • Regular visits to the veterinarian is also recommended. Pre-natal checkups will ensure that the pups inside your dog's womb will grow and thrive well.

How to care for my dog after she gives birth?

  • After giving birth, your dog needs to be taken on a walk so she can urinate or defecate. Use a long leash for this and watch her closely if in case she has another puppy.
  • Within 5-6 hours, take the mother dog and her puppies to the veterinarian for a close examination.
  • Every two to three hours, give your dog food and water on her whelping box. She won't leave her puppies so make sure that she still eats and drinks regulary. Check her every two to three hours.
  • Your dog will have a bloody discharge after pregnancy, but fret not, as this is normal. Just make sure to change her beddings regularly to prevent any infection.
  • Your dog can have a case of mastitis, or swelling mammary glands and nipples. Make sure that to prevent this from happening, check for redness, hardness or discharge. If your dog has the following symptoms on her mammary glands, bring her to the vet immediately.
  • Once her pups are around two to three weeks old, you can move the mother dog separately from the whelping box so she can rest. You don't need to move her far away as she would want to see her puppies still.

If this is your first time breeding your dog, ask your veterinarian to help you on how to care for your dog during her labor correctly. The whelping process is not easy, so you need to be prepared and read and learn what you need to know. Ask for assistance, especially during the stage where the puppies need to keep warm.