Helping your dog during pregnancy can be an intimidating and arduous undertaking, even under perfect circumstances. Whether it’s your personal pet companion or you’re a kind soul who’s opted to rescue a pregnant dog, to amply prepare yourself for the road ahead, there’s much that you should know.
I’ve put together a list of 5 helpful tips for taking care of your pregnant dog, so that you may move through the process with more ease, and perhaps, some enjoyment. To understand these five tips, it’s best to first have some knowledge of the different stages of pregnancy your dog will go through during this time.
Stage 1: Waiting Period
The first couple of weeks after mating are easy to manage, as you are unable to determine whether or not your dog has succeeded in becoming impregnated.
Stage 2: Pregnancy is confirmed
This stage occurs roughly in the time span of the third and fourth week. This can be a very fun stage for you, as you are now able to determine whether or not your dog is actually pregnant.
Stage 3: The Fetus Forms
During weeks five and six, organs have begun developing and both the fetuses and the mother will begin to grow rapidly. This may seem fast, but assuredly it’s right on schedule. According to The American Kennel Club, dogs are only pregnant for a short two months.
Stage 4: Puppies Take Shape
The fetuses in mom’s belly are now starting to look like puppies, and these puppies will have started growing hair!
Stage 5: Final Preparations are Made
During weeks eight and nine of pregnancy, your dog will begin to behave irritably and anxious. Fret not, this is a normal part of the process for a mother who is settling into her whelping area.
5 tips for Pregnant Dog Care
Tip 1: Enjoy the first Couple of Weeks!
During the first two weeks, you are still able to stick to whatever your routine may have established. Feeding, walking and grooming habits can remain the same during this time. Ultimately, during this stage nothing really needs to be done, other than giving your furry friend their regularly allotted amount of love and affection. Make sure your pup has proper food and enough water.
Tip 2: Take Your Dog to a Veterinarian
When your dog has entered her third week of pregnancy, it’s best to take your dog to the vet, where testing can be done for confirmation.
It is likely that the veterinarian will be able to give you an estimate of the litter size so that you can prepare for their arrival. Additionally, this is the time where your vet will check for any potential complications. If she was impregnated by accident, you can discuss with your vet whether spaying is something to consider for the future.
During this time there is not much to be done. Walking and feeding can stay the same. At most, you should be more careful when playing with your pet, ensure that they do not overexert themselves.
Tip 3: Prep for Birth
When your pregnant dog has reached week seven, it’s time to begin preparing for the birth. First, this involves another exam by a veterinarian. Specifically, your vet will be checking for parasites and other potential problems, to ensure that the birthing process goes smoothly.
Then, you’re ready to begin priming for the arrival of the puppies. The process of a canine birth is known as whelping. The best place for a dog to properly whelp is in a private and quiet location, so it’s important to scout out a spot beforehand, and make sure your choice is available to the mother and her puppies for the following few weeks.
Tip 4: Be a Good Host or Hostess
During the final week of pregnancy, it’s crucial to pay extra attention to the mother. Set up the whelping are with layers of newspaper, because it will get messy. Additionally, place towels or blankets in this space so the mother can get comfortable. Gently and continually encourage your pet towards her whelping area once it is set up.
Tip 5: Enjoy the Process!
Participating in the birth of puppies is a wonderful experience. IF you do your due diligence and prepare as best as you can, the mother dog will do most all of the work. For more information about the stages of pregnancy and the actually whelping or birthing process, check out this article. Good luck!
About the author: Angie Hill (@angiehillwrites) is a freelance writer, dog lover and a volunteer at pet rescue center in Atlanta, GA. She regularly writes for dog related blogs and magazines and is the editor in chief for woofdog.org. During her free time she enjoys playing with Boxer Ernie and Labrador Nora.