Dog Pregnancy Tips and Advice.

Dog Pregnancy Tips and Advice.
February 25, 2019

The instinct of procreation, as with all living creatures, is well developed in dogs. Every dog owner, especially those who have females who have not yet been neutered, must be familiar with the breeding process. 

Owning a dog comes with a massive amount of responsibility and that doesn’t just mean walking them, feeding them and making sure they are warm. This also means that you’ll need to equip yourself with plenty of knowledge to keep your dog happy and healthy. This is especially the case if you are intending to breed your dog. Lack of such knowledge could lead to unpleasant consequences (infertility, adverse changes in the breed various diseases and so on) 

So here are some key things you’ll need to know about a dog’s fertility and pregnancy! 

Sexual Maturity
 Dogs develop sexual activity 7-8 months after birth. They remain sexually active generally up until the age of ten years old. However, of course, there are some exceptions to this rule – just as there are with humans. Sexual maturity may also differ with different breeds. Generally, the best time for a dog to have their first litter is after they are two years old. 

Coming in Season 
Females come into season usually twice a year. Generally, this will happen in the Spring and in the autumn. Seasons commonly last between one to two weeks. During this period external sexual organs swell, and then they will start to spot blood. You can also expect some behavioural changes to a female dog when they are in season. At the beginning of their season, the female dog will be restless and unnaturally playful, other dogs may become more aggressive around other female dogs, but very willing to present to male dogs. They will be most willing for intercourse on the fourth or the fifth day of their season. However, it can also be between day ten and twelve.
How to diagnose pregnancy?
The easiest way to check if your dog is through Palpation (method of examination with hands) of the abdomen. The abdomen will start to swell between the 20th - 30th day after fertilization. If you’re not familiar with this process, you may want to consult your vet. However, this is the easiest and most affordable method. Yet, it’s not always very reliable especially if the bitch is nervous or they are overweight. Ultrasonographic evaluation is most easily and accurately between 21-35 days of the fertilization. X-ray is also a good diagnostic method. Performed around the 40th day of pregnancy, when elements of the skeleton are already formed. It is usually used to determine how many puppies will be in the Dog’s litter, and how big they are. 

Once you have determined that your dog is pregnant, you’ll need to know how to care for them properly.
How to care for a pregnant dog

You may very well know how to look after your dog when they’re not pregnant. But there are also a lot of things you need to consider once you have confirmed that they are pregnant.
 Vaccinations During Pregnancy 
 Making sure that your dog is healthy and immunised against common diseases which may be passed down to the puppies is pivotal. It is beneficial to ensure that your pet is protected and fully up to date with treatments before they become pregnant, but sometimes, this isn’t possible. So, if your dog does become pregnant without up to date immunisations, you’ll want to remedy this immediately. Puppies will only be protected from infection if their mother is. The immunisation will come from their mother’s milk once they are born. Common diseases puppies can catch from birth are herpes and rabies. This is why it is so important to vaccinate your dog against rabies. In general, vaccination is not recommended during pregnancy. Treatment for internal parasites is also important. During pregnancy, you can use anti preparations and your veterinarian will determine which ones which will be most suited to your dog. If a faecal sample proved that the pregnant bitch has intestinal parasites, you should use preparations to protect the puppies from infection. In all cases, after birth, it is good to investigate the faeces for any signs of infestation. Parasite control for external parasites is also important and can continue during pregnancy by appropriate means. To avoid organophosphorus and carbamate compounds. If the bitch must be cured of disease during pregnancy, the veterinarian will decide which agents to use, but you must inform them about the likelihood that your pet is pregnant.
Nutrition during pregnancy.
The diet of the dog in the first 4 weeks does not have to change - quality granulated food in a quantity corresponding to the breed’s needs and activity is sufficient. The increase in the amount of food should start at the 5th - 6th week - initially with a 20-25% increase.
 You’ll want to increase their dietary intake by 50% in the 8th and 9th week and the first week after giving birth. After the first four weeks, you should give food formulated specifically for pregnant and lactating bitches. It should have a high percentage of protein, energy and minerals. If you’re worried about getting the balance in your dog’s diet right, you can always consult with your vet and see what would be most beneficial for your pregnant dog. 

 Most owners are eager to give calcium and vitamin D, but they are not always necessary, and may even be harmful. In the second half of pregnancy and during lactation the need for minerals is indeed increased, but they are covered by an increased amount of food (especially when it's of good quality). An excess of calcium, particularly at the end of pregnancy leads to a predisposition to a small swelling and scrolling of the stomach, prevents the absorption of zinc, manganese, and other essential minerals and may predispose to the female difficult childbirth.
In the last weeks of pregnancy the female must be fed more often and in smaller portions as the capacity of the stomach is reduced due to compression of the pregnant uterus. Do not overfeed your dog which can lead to obesity - it usually leads to difficult birth along with all the other implications which come alongside obesity in dogs.

After birth, the second and third week of lactation is associated with the highest stress for female dogs. Requirements to the calorific value of food are double compared to the period before pregnancy. During the fourth week of lactation quantity and calorific value of food is reduced. Some bitches lose significant weight while caring a large number of puppies because they rarely have the opportunity to eat quietly.

Activity & during pregnancy
 Daily walks are a must. Dogs used to run along with their owners may continue to do so during the first 4-6 weeks of pregnancy. However, it is incredibly important that you remain in complete control of their exercise after the first 6 weeks to help them avoid causing an injury to their unborn pups. You should be especially careful with your dogs if they are working animals – especially in late pregnancy.
Helping your Dog Give Birth
Usually, birth begins at night and goes smoothly. While you will want to fawn over your dog and maybe even hold their paw through the process. It is vitally important that you leave dogs alone in this period. Long before they are due to give birth, make sure you have a suitable whelping box prepared, this can be in the form of a large cardboard box or something similar. Line the box with clean blankets and plenty of puppy pads. Your dog may have a couple of accidents while they are giving birth. Do not force your pregnant dog to go outside to go to the toilet before they are about to give birth. 

Your dog will give you a few signs that they are ready to give birth so you can guide them to the whelping box – just make sure that they don’t decide on using your bed or somewhere else which is unsuitable for giving birth to their pups! Normally bitches have no appetite before and after birth. Provide continuous access to water and food and maximum tranquillity anyway.

It is important that you remain as calm as calm as possible, freaking out at this point will only cause distress to your pet. So put your brave and most supporting face and be prepared to support your dog through the process calmly as when a female dog is worried, scared or nervous this can cause some complications to the delivery of their pups. Often, if the owners are too nervous and worried, that anxiety is transmitted to the animal and prevents the normal process. If the dog decides to move, hide, or does not like the chosen location, do not disturb it, but discreetly watch if everything is all right.