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How to help your dog during pregnancy?

Updated on October 31, 2007

You have established that your dog is pregnant now what do you do? While having a yard full of puppies' sounds like jolly good fun, it does take a lot of work to care for your pregnant dog and puppies later on. But any responsible pet owner will want to ensure that his dog is well cared for during pregnancy to ensure a) the dog's well being and b) to ensure the puppies are healthy.

First it is essential to establish that your dog will be pregnant for 63 days, give a take a day or two, which really is not that much, so you do not have a long preparation period. First and foremost if your dog has its vaccinations due and does become pregnant, you should not vaccinate your dog during pregnancy as it can cause damage to the fetus. Another thing you will have to do is change your dog's diet. She will need extra care and attention during this period and food is one of these things. She will eat more and need more nutrients so consult your vet which type of food would be advisable. But ease her into it gradually so not to cause too much disruption to her system and to give her some time to adjust. High quality diet is the way to go.

You should not ignore the walks during pregnancy, but do not overdo it, especially if you have a sports dog of any sort. Also about 3 weeks before the puppies are due and 3 weeks after the puppies are born isolate your dog from other dogs as coming in contact with other dogs may bring a possibility of infectious diseases. Diseases do not necessarily have to harmful to your dog, but they might be harmful to puppies.

Also before the labor separate one area of your home and make it comfortable for your dog. This is the place where the puppies will be so make sure your dog can come and go, while the puppies will not be able to leave this area. Another thing you should prepare is your vet's number or a number to the local emergency pet clinic in case of complications.

The first sign your dog will go into labor will be the temperature drop (it goes below 100) and the labor can then expected in 24 hours. Ensure she has plenty of water available and she might become restless, starts to pant or even vomit. These are all most common symptoms. Once the delivery stars and puppies start to come out they will be covered with a thin membrane. Now normally your dog should remove this membrane, however if for whatever reason she does not you will have to do it as puppies can suffocated otherwise. You can expect the puppies to come out one per hour and she might strain up to half an hour before the delivery. Also you will have to tie the umbilical cord in a knot and cut above the knot.

You should contact your vet immediately in case some of the things below occur:

- your dog's temperature has dropped but she does not go into labor within 24 hours

- in case she carries over 70 days

- if she takes more then 4 hour breaks in between delivering the puppies

- if she strains for more then an hour

- if she seems to be in great pain

Talking to your vet prior to delivery should help you prepare yourself for the actual event, however if you have any doubts whatsoever during the process contact your vet immediately.

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