‘No more sacred word exists in the secular or holy writ than that of a mother’ these beautiful lines were written by Ezra T. Benson, a well-known religious and political leader of the 18th century.
Motherhood is indeed the love in its purest form and when the congratulations in order from your doggo, you are blessed with little paws, who will fill your home and heart!!
This news is pleasing, exciting but also nerve-racking as pregnancy in dogs can be a very tricky phase. Like any first-timer, you’ll have questions that need answers- such as, how long are dogs pregnant, how do you care for a pregnant dog and what is needed in preparation for this blessed event?
So, here are a few things to take care of for a healthy mother and pups:
Know all about Gestation and other stages
Before welcoming the little puppers to your home, you have to do some exercise which includes gathering knowledge about the symptoms of pregnancy, know about the duration of gestation, birth, lactation, weaning etc. So that you can proactively be prepared to take good care of the expecting mother and the neonates who will enter this new world soon.
Symptoms of pregnancy-
It’s very tricky to know whether your pooch is expecting or not, during the early weeks of pregnancy, as your pooch may not show many outward signs. But, as the pregnancy progresses, you may notice-
- Occasional vomiting of short duration
- Reluctance towards food or ravenous appetite
- Redness in the abdominal area
- Enlarged mammary glands
If you notice any of these symptoms in your pooch, take her to the vet and get the ultrasound done to confirm the good news!
*Note- Sometimes the pregnancy can go unnoticed if the bitch is overweight, nervous or tense.
The gestation period of dogs is relatively short as compared to humans. It begins when your female dog becomes pregnant and lasts until she delivers her healthy puppies. This duration is approximately nine weeks, or 63 days, although it can range from 58 to 68 days, depending on the breed.
Knowing the length of the gestation period is important for the health of the pregnant bitch and puppies, and is used to monitor nutrition and veterinary care during pregnancy.
What to feed your dog during her Gestation period?
If your doggo is pregnant for the first time, you might be in dilemma as what type of diet will be nutritional for her! Many breeders and vets recommend to give commercially prepared food to gestating bitches for a balanced diet.
As advised by vets, they should be maintained on an appropriate dog food. So, raw diets be switched to kibble during breeding, pregnancy and lactation to reduce chances of abortions and neonatal losses.
*Note– Dogs during the gestation period won’t be able to have large meals, so it is recommended to give them more frequent, small meals.
Medical Care During Gestation Period
During her pregnancy, get your bitch vaccinated as per the required medications and also get her dewormed at 4 and 6 weeks of being pregnant. This reduces the risk of infection for pups. For additional safety, get your bitch vaccinated before mating.
After the birth of puppies, make sure they get a warm environment, take care of your dog’s diet and also get suitable vaccinations done.
Pull your socks up for Labor!
Don’t worry!! its nothing much like in humans, you just have to be prepared for the day and keep the vet aligned, as you may feel the need.
When your bitch is about to go into labor, she will become restless, she will start panting, her interest in food will decrease and she might have a swollen vulva, by these symptoms you can determine that your doggo is ready to deliver the neonates.
After 1-2 hours of contractions, she will deliver the first pup. The water (placental membrane) may or may not rupture. If it doesn’t, you have to do it yourself. We advise you to take the help of vet.
*Note- Sometimes, the bitch get tired, thus leading to a gap of 15 minutes to an hour between delivering each pup. So, don’t stress and keep the vet by your side.
Prep for the neonates-
In order to support your dog in its quest to establish a suitable “nest” for the neonates, you should set up a whelping box some time before the birth date (at least two weeks in advance).
This box should be placed in a quiet heated area that isn’t too bright. The ideal room temperature is around 24 degrees, so it’s also recommended to provide a dimmable infrared-heater as an additional source of warmth, under which the puppies can snuggle together at warm temperatures of 35 degrees.
Old bedding, towels, washable sheets or if necessary newspaper can be suitable base materials. Ensure that the base remains clean and dry. You should change soiled towels and sheets for new.
The first milk!
Once the pups enter new world, the ‘first milk’ miraculously enters to the mammary ducts of the doggo. Milk production is adapted to the number and appetite of the puppers, with nature ensuring that all puppies can fill their small tummies.
As pups are completely helpless when they are born but, they can generally find the mother’s teats on their own! Despite being deaf and blind and their sense of smell not working well enough, they can sense the mother’s teats. Purely magical right??
*Note- Drinking the first milk, also known as colostrum, is particularly important for the development of young dogs, since it contains important maternal antibodies and protects them from pathogens and builds puppies natural defenses.
Though, gestation and birth process includes a lot of sweat & exercise, but when you see little pups around, all you think it was worth the effort!! So, stay as relaxed as possible and trust in nature and your dog’s instincts. 🙂
That’s all about good parenting!!