Congratulations! Your best furry friend is pregnant, and in nine short weeks, you’ll have a bunch of cute puppies running around. While you might be excited to hear the pitter-patter of tiny paws in your house, there’s plenty to do before the little ones' arrival. Click through for some advice on how to make your dog’s pregnancy and delivery as smooth and healthy as possible.
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GIVE PLENTY OF FRESH WATER
The last thing you want is for your pregnant pooch to get dehydrated. Allow her constant access to plenty of fresh water. She should be consuming twice as much water as she normally does, so keep that bowl full. It's even a good idea to have bowls throughout the house and yard to ensure that she’s never too far from a nice clean drink.
FREQUENT TRIPS OUTSIDE
Now that your dog is pregnant (and drinking more water), she is going to need to relieve herself more. Plus, a mother dog's bladder gets squeezed with all those puppies fighting for space in her belly. Be prepared to let your dog outside more often than you're used to.
CONTINUE EXERCISE AND PLAY TIME
Just because your dog is pregnant doesn’t mean she should avoid regular exercise and play time. Keeping her fit while pregnant helps make the birthing and recovery process easier. Continue daily walks, but be mindful of your dog's moods. If she is too tired to exercise, don't force it.
TIME TO REST
Should your pet show a lack of enthusiasm at the prospect of getting out and about, she's likely just exhausted from being pregnant. Especially as the pregnancy progresses, your dog is going to need more sleep. Make her a comfortable sleeping area and don’t disturb her when she’s resting. But if you think her lethargy is a sign of pregnancy complications, contact your vet immediately.
VITAMINS ARE ESSENTIAL
Just like pregnant humans, pregnant dogs need vitamins and minerals to keep them and their puppies in top health. Often called "bitch pills" (yes, that’s actually what they’re called), these multivitamins are sold in your vet’s office or local pet supply stores. It’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian before purchasing such supplements, in case your dog has special needs.
A dog can birth up to 10 puppies in a single litter, and sometimes more, depending on the dog’s age and breed. That’s a whole lot of mouths to feed. To help your mama dog keep up with the demand, increase the quantity of food you feed her as soon as you know she’s pregnant. Also, gradually add in high-protein puppy food to her normal food, until you’ve completely replaced her old food. Continue feeding her puppy food while she nurses and possibly even after the pups have been weaned (but ask your veterinarian to be sure). Consult your vet to find out what food brands are ideal for your pet.
KEEP IT SEPARATED
No more trips to the dog park! Once your dog has made it through the first few weeks of her pregnancy, it is best to keep her away from other dogs. In particular, male dogs should be avoided. If your female lives with a male dog, it is not crucial to keep them separated until close to birthing and through weaning. However, keep an eye on how they interact, as the female may begin to snap at the male and become food aggressive in later stages of pregnancy.
MAKE A DELIVERY NEST
As your dog is nearing her delivery date, create a safe, comfortable space for her to birth. A cardboard box lined with cushioning and newspaper works well, depending on the size of your dog. You might also use your dog’s crate, which you can drape with a blanket to give her an added sense of security.
Next: Mother Dogs and Their Pups
Your dog might be the sweetest thing most of the time, but if you’ve never experienced her birthing process, exercise caution. Some dogs become protective and defensive during and after birth. It can be confusing and frightening to a new dog mom, so don’t become too touchy during the birth unless complications arise. Some dogs can even bite and become aggressive during this time, so make sure your dog is welcome to your touching instead of assuming it will be.