What to Expect When Your Dog is Expecting

It can be very exciting when your dog is expecting a litter of puppies.  You might be inclined to pamper your dog or change her routine when you know she is pregnant, but it is important to remember that dogs have been having puppies for a lot longer than humans have been intervening.  Over reacting to your bitch’s pregnancy could do more harm than good.  Read on for some helpful tips to keep in mind while you await the delivery of your newest furry friends.

Dogs’ pregnancies last 60 - 65 days.  The first six weeks wont bring much change at all.  Your dog will appear and act in much the same way she always does.  There is no need to adjust the amount of food or exercise your dog receives in this stage; the puppies are not grown enough to drain her of significant nutrients.  Over feeding or under exercising could lead to fat deposits that are not good for the puppies development and could put your dog in danger during the pregnancy and birth.

In the last 3 weeks of the pregnancy, the bitch will gain wait very quickly and the mammary glands will develop.  This is a good sign that the puppies are developing well and at this point you will need to increase her calorie intake.  While her tummy is growing, it doesn’t mean she has a lot more room for food in there…in fact, she has less, because the puppies are taking up all the space!  Feed your dog several small meals each day to accommodate for the increased need for nutrients and decreased space for food.   Some dogs will lose their appetite for short periods during the pregnancy.  This is normal and wont have any serious effect on the mother or her babies, but any prolonged period of lacking appetite should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian.

Canine birthing is called whelping, and it usually happens without too many dangerous complications.  Only a few breeds regularly require cesarean section surgery, others will naturally go through the stages of delivery within a matter of six to twenty-four hours.  A placenta will be delivered with each pup and another will follow somewhere between 15 minutes and 3 hours.

Once your dogs puppies are delivered, the bitch may be very protective for a period of time.  Give her lots of space and quiet.  She will clean each of the pups as they are delivered, which also stimulates them to breathe.  Very soon they will be suckling from the mother and you will have some cute little friends!  If there is ever any deviation from the natural process that strikes you as dangerous, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.