Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Determine if Your Dog is Pregnant

For the first three weeks or so of pregnancy, you may not notice any changes in the bitch. Some females will become more demanding for attention, their nipples may enlarge slightly, and some may become hungrier. These are not a guarantee of a pregnancy, but are good signs. Bitches can show the same signs during 'false pregnancy,' a hormonal abnormality, which may occur after a bitch has been in heat.
Several methods are available to determine pregnancy. A clear mucoid vaginal discharge may be seen. It is a reasonably reliable sign of pregnancy and is noticed about 4-5 weeks into pregnancy and continues until parturition. Ultrasound is able to pick up fetal heartbeats at about 28 days into gestation. This will not be able to determine the number of puppies but can give an estimate and can confirm a pregnancy. At about the same time, a veterinarian may be able to palpate the uterus and feel the fetuses. This may not be possible on a large dog or one that has the puppies under the rib cage. A blood test to check for pregnancy is available. It checks for the hormone, relaxin, which is produced when the fertilized egg implants.

The test can be done about 28-30 days into the pregnancy. Small litter sizes (less than 3 puppies) may result in a false negative result. X-rays can be taken around the 60th day of pregnancy to confirm a pregnancy, count the number of fetuses, and determine size-wise if the puppies will fit through the birth canal.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pregnant Dogs

As a responsible dog owner, it is of utmost importance that you know about the estrus cycle, what it involves, and how to make sure that unwanted pregnancies do not occur in your dog, when she is too young not ready yet.

Often, the dog breeds on its first heat at a time when she is not prepared; it would be a good idea to wait for her second or third heat so that there are no complications.

The gestation period: The gestation period for a dog is about sixty to sixty three days, and you must be aware of the time period from mating to delivery, so that you can be present at the expected delivery date.

You must make sure that you take your dog to the vet before you allow her to breed. This will ensure that your pet is healthy and free of infections and disease, and this will automatically make sure that her pregnancy is uncomplicated and uneventful. You may think of continuing heartworm medication through the pregnancy, after consulting with your vet.

Vaccinations: All vaccinations must be given before pregnancy occurs; vaccinations may sometimes cause abortions, and this can be easily avoided with this simple precaution.

A pregnant dog needs extra nutrition, although she need not eat more than her pre-pregnancy amounts up to six weeks, and after the sixth week, the nutritional levels, as well as your dog’s appetite should increase. Some dogs tend to demonstrate signs of ‘morning sickness’, and if the symptoms persist for more than ten days, consult your vet.

Puppy food is right: Most vets advise giving your pregnant dog puppy food right from the time when mating occurred. This way, both the mother as well as the puppies will get extra nutrition, and the unborn puppies will develop normally. The mother will be able to produce better quality milk for her puppies when it is needed.
Feed smaller meals: You should give her smaller meals more frequently than large meals at one sitting as she may not be able to eat much at one sitting because her puppies press on her internal organs. Make sure, however, that she does not become fat: her ribs should show, and she should not have fat on her rump.

Exercise is important: A moderate level of exercise is advisable for your pregnant dog. This will not only keep potential obesity under control, but also keep her well toned and ready for her delivery.

Whelping time: If you have calculated the dates right, or if your dog has become restless, and needs to urinate more frequently, or digs at the nest you have made for her, then you can be reasonably sure that delivery is imminent.
Do make sure that you are present at whelping time. Although this is not strictly necessary, your presence may help if there are complications, and if you need to save the puppies’ or the mother’s life. Stay cool, and enjoy your litter of puppies!