How to Take Care of a Pregnant Dog
Puppies are always a delight, but caring for a pregnant dog can be quite a challenge. Many dog owners do not know what steps to take when it comes to a canine pregnancy, and even spotting signs of dog pregnancy can be difficult at times.
Signs of Dog Pregnancy
It is important for all dog owners – not just those who plan to breed – to watch out for the signs of dog pregnancy. Not all canine pregnancies are planned, and accidents can happen. Knowing what to look for can help dog owners get a jump on the process and prepare their homes for those adorable puppies.
Some signs that may indicate an existing pregnancy include:
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased activity or lack of interest in favorite dog toys
- Full nipples
- Changes in dog behavior, such as an increased desire to be alone or a decrease in playfulness
- Weight gain
How Long Will Gestation Last?
The typical gestation period of a dog is 63 days. In the case of a planned mating, the expected delivery date can be determined with a fair degree of accuracy, but if the mating was unplanned it can be a bit more complicated. A skilled veterinarian should be able to determine an approximate due date, which will help the dog owner prepare for the whelping by creating the proper home environment.
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Special Care During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs need different care than non-expecting dogs, so it's important to prepare for the puppies by caring for their mother. Be on the lookout for signs of complications or ill health. Once a pregnancy is suspected, the owner should make an appointment with their veterinarian. Not only can the vet determine that a pregnancy is underway, but they can provide the owner with valuable advice on how to care for the expectant mother dog.
The veterinarian can also determine how far along the pregnancy is, and that will prove important when it comes time to set up the whelping box to prepare for the arrival of the puppies. After the owner knows the stage of the pregnancy, he or she can prepare a dog pregnancy calendar that can help guide the rest of the process and provide insight into dog gestation and whelping procedures.
Preparing for Puppies
A whelping box is a must, as this will provide a safe and secure place for the new mother to deliver her puppies. In most cases the pregnant dog will begin to display nesting behavior one to two days prior to delivery, so sharp-eyed owners may be able to predict when the birth will take place.
Even though owners may wish to help out, it is generally a good idea to give the mother dog her space and let nature take its course. Owners may want to stay in the background and be on the lookout for signs of trouble, but setting up a well-padded whelping box (lined with soft cloth) is really the best thing dog owners can do to help their pets. The whelping box will also help protect furniture, carpet and bedding that would otherwise be used when delivery is imminent.