Puppy on board! What to expect if your dog is having puppies

Expecting puppies can be an exciting and very scary time for pet parents! The excitement that comes with your dog expecting puppies can be overwhelming, thrilling, yet daunting at the same time. There is a lot for you to consider and prepare for.

The process can feel scary and stressful from the early signs of pregnancy to prepare for the miracle of life, especially for those who haven’t experienced this before. In this article, we will help you feel more secure in knowing what is happening, and how to prepare for welcoming a whole batch of cuties! Feeling prepared will help make this process much more simple and less stressful, for both you and your dog.

🐕 A canine’s reproductive system 

Your female furry friend can start getting pregnant between 8 months to 18 months of age. There are a lot of factors that go into this, so this is very subjective to each dog. Your best bet is to consult with your veterinarian about your pupper and when she will be able to conceive. Dogs can get pregnant when they are fertile, just as humans! Although dogs are “in heat” only once every eight months – which can last up to about 3 weeks at a time.

Development of puppies

Generally, it takes roughly 63 days of pregnancy until your dog gives birth, compared to a human’s incubation time of 9 months. Another main difference is that the number of days is measured from the day of ovulation, so this varies largely on the date of ovulation, which can be tricky to estimate.

Usually, a mammal will produce half as many babies as the number of nipples on the mother. But this can also vary largely in house pets as they are domesticated! The best way to determine how many puppies your friend will have in this litter is to check with the veterinarian for an X-ray and ultrasound.

Physical changes

There are a few signs you can look out for if you’re suspecting that your beloved friend is expecting! A few hints could be:

  • Slight mucus discharge after one month of mating
  • Larger nipples with more prominent coloring
  • Sickness in the morning, although this should only occur during the earlier stages
  • Weight gain at around 35 days of the pregnancy
  • Swollen stomach at 40 days, although first-time moms might experience this less

Behavioral changes

Other than the physical changes that occur during pregnancy, your dog might also have started to act a little differently. Here are a few behavioral changes that might happen:

  • She is quieter than usual
  • Her appetite lessens
  • She gets tired easily
  • She is more affectionate
  • Exhibiting nesting behavior, she might start dragging blankets to new places or hide in places with lots of clothes
  • She might get easily annoyed and have higher irritability

🏥 How to care for pregnant dogs

Nutrition & Exercise

As your dog is creating a whole new life, quality food is required! It’s recommended that as her weight increases, you should also increase her food intake as time goes by – until she starts eating around 35 to 50 percent more than she usually does. You should do this by slowly and frequently feeding her extra food, rather than feeding her all at once, as this can create discomfort.

Short and frequent walks are encouraged as she still needs to conserve her energy to carry her puppers and give them nutrition! Over-exercising is not advised, although no exercise at all is also not recommended. Keep her on her feet so she still has a chance to move around!

Preparation for birth 

By the time you’re preparing for a whole new litter, your dog’s nipples might be super enlarged! You might even notice some milky fluid leaking out at times, and her abdomen will make it harder for her to walk normally – causing a slight sway when she walks.

As the pawrent looking after the soon-to-be mom, you have to prepare a “whelping box” for the birthing process. The box provides a safe, warm, and comfortable environment for the puppies once they enter the world! You can buy a whelping box or create one by using a plastic swimming pool. It should be easy for your dog to get in and out, although not for the puppies themselves. Place the whelping box in an area that is quiet and peaceful, so your beloved companion won’t have any distractions during the blessed event!

Possible complications 

There are a few things that can go wrong when your trusted companion is pregnant. Birth complications might come up when:

  • If your dog has steady and strong contractions that don’t go away for more than 30 minutes with no puppy in sight
  • No labor signs after 24 hours after your dog’s body temperature has decreased.
  • More than four hours between each birth
  • Over 70 days of gestation
  • Extreme pain signaled by vocalization or overly panting

After giving birth, it’s normal for your pet to have a fever for 24 to 48 hours. During this time, she might also experience vaginal discharge for around eight weeks as well. But if the fever persists for longer than 48 hours or there is foul-smelling vaginal discharge might suggest that she is suffering from metritis – which is the inflammation of the uterus during the postpartum period, usually caused by bacterial infection.

Importance of a veterinarian 

If your beloved pet is experiencing the symptoms that are mentioned above, please immediately contact the veterinarian as soon as possible. Most likely, your pet requires a c-section to birth her puppies. Blood tests and X-rays might be an additional procedure that has to be done, to ensure that your pet is healthy and her puppies are also okay.

It’s important to follow every instruction your vet has recommended while your pet is pregnant to avoid any complications related to her pregnancy. Proper care will minimize your pet’s chances of suffering from potential ailments.

It’s no doubt that it’s an exciting time for both you and your dog! Welcoming a whole new litter to the world can be daunting but extremely rewarding. It’s important to provide the proper care and nutrition for your dog that is the mother-to-be, as it is crucial for her as well as for her puppies. With the right preparation and knowledge in mind, the experience can be joyful and not as scary as it seems.

This article is reviewed by the veterinarian from Small Animal Teaching Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University (CUVET)

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