Having a pregnant dog requires a lot of attention and care from you. Pregnancy is hard, no matter the species. If you are not sure what your dog’s heat cycle looks like, what to look for regarding signs of pregnancy, or how to take care of your dog after conceiving, you are in the right place. This article will break down five ways you can prepare for a pregnant dog.
Learn the dog’s heat cycle
A dog’s heat cycle can be somewhat of an unpredictable experience, and it isn’t aligned to a particular season or happens every so many months. A dog may go into heat as young as six months or not until they are closer to 18 months.
Phases of a dog in heat:
Proestrus The dog’s reproductive organs will appear puffy and swollen and she will start her dog period. She may experience loss of appetite and be irritable. Male dogs will begin to show interest in her, but she is not interested in them in this phase. This may last seven to ten days.
Estrus This is also referred to sometimes as standing heat. The female dog will stand still so the male dog can breed with her. Eventually, her dog period will change colours to a more pinkish hue. This phase in the cycle can last anywhere from four to fourteen days.
Diestrus This is the last phase of the mating period, and she will no longer be interested in the males. If she has conceived while mating, this phase will last until the puppies are born.
Anestrus This is the final cycle for your dog in heat. If she did not conceive, she will have a break from being heat anywhere from a hundred to a hundred and fifty days before the cycle begins again.
Understanding the gestation period
A dog’s gestation period is around sixty-three days, or nine weeks. Due to a few factors, it can be hard to determine the exact length of a dog’s gestation period. Unless you closely monitor your dogs’ hormones, you may not know exactly when she conceived since the heat phase can vary from each heat cycle, sperm can live inside the female for several days, and the egg remains fertile for 48 hours. It isn’t necessarily accurate to measure from the time your dog mated to the day of birth. They may be a few days, give or take.
Pet parents should also know it’s not recommended to have their dog pregnant during her first heat. Know that breeding your dog in her first heat can result in health risks for both you and your pups. Understand the dog gestation period in order to decide when to breed your dog.
Overall, though a dog gestation period is very short, it would be time to start preparing for a litter of rambunctious puppies as soon as you think she may be pregnant.
Signs that your dog is pregnant
There may not be signs right away that your dog has been impregnated, but it won’t take long before you notice signs that may signal she is expecting. If you want to know and not wait for signs, you can always take her to the vet for a check-up, but since a dog’s gestation period really isn’t that long, it is only a matter of a few weeks before signs of pregnancy start to show up.
Some signs to watch for are:
- Changes in sleep. Pregnancy is exhausting no matter the species if you notice your dog isn’t her usual self and wants to nap more often than usual. She might be growing some puppies in her belly.
- Morning sickness. If you notice your dog throwing up a little or a decrease in appetite, that may signify pregnancy. If the throwing up is excessive, it may be time for a vet visit.
- Increase in nipple size. Her nipples may start to increase in size, and her teats may become more pronounced. Her nipples may become darker and lose the fur around them.
- Increase in appetite. You may notice that your dog has increased her appetite to accommodate the little pups she is growing in her belly.
- Behaviour changes. Like humans, dogs go through many hormonal changes during pregnancy. You may notice your dog wants to be cuddled extra, or she may want more space than usual.
Make sure your space is ready
Creating a safe space for mom and her puppies is a must. Create this space while mom is still pregnant, so she is used to it. You can buy what is called a whelping box or den, or you can use a doggy playpen, large cardboard box, as long as it’s big enough for mom and babies to fit in comfortably and has higher sides so when the puppies start to wander, they won’t get very far.
Ensure you have lots of sheets and towels ready for the birthing process. They will need to be changed a few times, and then a clean set for when all the pups have been born.
You will want the whelping box to be in a quiet area of your room where the temperature is stable, and they won’t be disturbed.
Ensure mommy dog has enough food, water, and nutrients
It is always good to discuss your dog’s needs with your veterinarian, especially while pregnant and nursing. There are certain nutrition needs at different phases of the pregnancy that will need to be met. Focusing on feeding your dog a nutrient-dense diet is always a good idea, pregnant or not. It is also essential to always have clean water available for your dog.
Some nutrients that you need to ensure your dog is getting are:
- Protein This is a very important nutrient for developing puppies and during the nursing phase. An excellent way to increase the protein in your dogs diet is meat, and you can give her chicken, fish, beef, lamb, and turkey.
- Fat By the sixth week of gestation, your dog will need an increase in calories. Give her more fatty cuts of meat to help increase calories and ensure puppies are getting enough to develop properly.
- Fatty acids Increasing your dog’s Omega- 3 intake is crucial for developing eyesight, nerves, and the puppy’s brain. You can include a supplement if you cannot give her fish regularly.
- Vitamins If you feed your dog a healthy and balanced diet, she will receive all the necessary vitamins to develop healthy pups. Important vitamins for a pregnant dog are vitamin C, D, and folate.
- Minerals Important minerals for a pregnant and nursing dog are iron, calcium, and phosphorous, and these can all be obtained through giving your dog meat, including organ meat and bones.
Learning about your dog’s heat cycle, gestation period, and how to take care of an expecting dog is so important if you are planning on breeding your dog or if she got outside while in heat. Knowing what to expect during a pregnancy will make it easier for you and your pooch.