If you are thinking about breeding for your dog, then you need to make sure that you know how you should care for her while she is pregnant. Breeding a dog is a massive decision that should not be taken lightly, and you should be as prepared as you possibly can be.
Understanding the different stages of dog pregnancy and the things that you should do during each step is essential. You need to make sure that you keep your dog as comfortable as possible as her pregnancy progresses, preparing for the puppies that will soon be arriving.
The Stages of Dog Pregnancy
Just as with human pregnancies, dog pregnancies can be tracked invisible stages. Understanding what to expect during each of these stages is really important, especially when you are working out how to care for your dog. The most noticeable dog pregnancy stages include:
Planning for a Pregnancy
If you are currently planning on letting your dog become pregnant, then there are plenty of things that you should look into before you do. For example, you need to make sure that your dog is old enough to mate successfully.
Most of the time, you should aim to make sure that your dog has fully matured, meaning that she should be at least 3 years old. We would highly recommend speaking to your vet about your intentions and making sure that your dog is fully vaccinated.
The Early Weeks
A typical canine pregnancy lasts from 56 - 70 days, depending on the breeds of both of the dogs involved. In the early weeks, you don't have to worry about a thing. You can treat your dog just as you usually would!
As you enter the third week of pregnancy, you should monitor your dog to see whether or not her appetite increases.
The Fourth Week
When your dog enters her fourth week of pregnancy, you should take her to your local vet for a thorough check over. Ideally, this will be with a vet who is already familiar with your dog and her medical history.
At this point, you will be able to give your dog an ultrasound. This will confirm that your dog is pregnant, and it should give you an estimate as to how large the litter may be. You don't need to stop exercising with your dog at this point, but you should avoid any strenuous physical exertion.
The Fifth Week
As your dog enters her fifth week of pregnancy, she will be joining one of the most critical stages. During the fifth week, the embryos inside of her will develop dramatically, and each will become a fetus.
During this stage, you might begin to notice that your dog will want to eat more, and her weight might increase slightly. We would recommend changing her diet somewhat at this point, but you should change it gradually.
The Sixth Week
Time seems to fly whenever dogs are pregnant. During the sixth week, each fetus will start to look like a fully-fledged puppy.
If you have not already noticed an increase in the amount of food that your dog is eating, then you should definitely start adjusting her diet during week six. Try to offer her more protein. If she doesn't seem to want to eat full meals, then you can try offering her multiple small meals throughout the day.
We would also recommend consulting with your vet at this point, as they might recommend a daily multivitamin.
The Seventh Week
If you have not already consulted with a vet by this point, then we would highly recommend that you do so quickly. During the seventh week of pregnancy, you need to make sure that no parasites are present. A lot of puppies suffer from parasite infestations after they are born.
You may notice that your female dog begins "nesting". This involves finding a quiet, clean place where she feels safe. Try to offer your dog a heat pad and blankets to pad out the area that she chooses.
The Eighth Week
The end date is quickly approaching! Chances are, your female dog will begin lactating at this point. This tells us that the puppies will be on their way over the coming two weeks. If you don't notice your dog lactating, then you might wish to take her to the vet.
The Ninth Week
It's time! You might notice that your dog begins to behave differently during the ninth week of her pregnancy. This is completely normal. Most female dogs get quite irritable, preferring to remain in their chosen nesting spot.
Luckily, you don't have to worry too much about the next bit. Most dogs are perfectly capable of giving birth on their own, with you offering them some comfort. But, you do need to be prepared for the worst and ready to intervene should you need to.
Caring for a Pregnant Dog
Now that you understand the different stages of canine pregnancy, it's time to take a look at a few things that you can do to care for your dog while she is pregnant:
1. Make sure that your dog is fully vaccinated.
Before the first stages of pregnancy, you should try to make sure that your dog is fully vaccinated. When your dog has puppies, her puppies will be feeding on her. You need to make sure that she is free of anything infectious that could have an impact on them.
2. Avoid strenuous exercise.
We would highly recommend taking your dog on short walks throughout her pregnancy, but you should avoid any strenuous exercise from the fourth week. This includes rough play!
3. Help your dog to prepare a nest.
When your dog begins nesting, you should make sure that the area that she has chosen is as comfortable as possible. Bring in a heating pad for the future puppies, line it with clean blankets and towels, and make sure that the temperature in the area can be easily controlled.
4. Adjust your dog's diet in stages.
When you find out that your dog is pregnant, don't rush out to immediately buy your dog a new food. You should adjust the amount that she is eating gradually throughout her pregnancy, bringing in more protein as the pregnancy progresses.
Caring for a Pregnant Dog
There you have it! You now understand the stages of dog pregnancy and some of the things that you can do to care for a pregnant dog. We would highly recommend consulting with your local vet for advice that has been perfectly tailored to meet the needs of your dog.