Health and Veterinary Care for Pregnant Dogs What to Know When Your Dog Is Expecting Puppies

Health and Veterinary Care for Pregnant Dogs
expert or vet photo
vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

Thumbnail of Nylon Adjustable Harness

Nylon Adjustable Harness

{{petcare_price|currency}} Price in Cart w/PetPlus {{petplus_price|currency}} See PetPlus Price in Cart

A dog's pregnancy should last around 9 weeks. Here's what you should know about the health care she'll need.

Your dog’s pregnancy will last around 64 to 66 days or around 9 weeks. Here's how to care for pregnant dogs.

First, if you're planning on breeding your dog, make sure to check out her health. She should have received all her vaccines and shots and been dewormed and in good health before becoming a mom.

Dogs should become pregnant after they have been in the heat a few times, which generally means they are over a year old. Your dog may have as many as 15 and as few as one puppy in her litter. Generally, smaller breeds will have smaller litters. The number of dogs born in a litter is also generally smaller for very young moms and very old moms. In case you encounter any pregnancy complications in your pet, never hesitate to seek veterinary care. You might be wondering, “Are dogs ticklish during pregnancy?” The answer may vary depending on the breed, but most breeds can become aggressive and irritable due to external and internal changes. 

During pregnancy, make sure your dog’s house is away from noise and reach of children and strangers. As a pet parent, it is your duty to ensure that this house contains all the necessary things like dog beds, accessories, food, etc. This is important because physical and psychological changes during pregnancy can lead to unwanted behavioral changes like aggression, which can threaten children or strangers near the dog. 

Nutrition and Exercise During Pregnancy

During your dog’s pregnancy, you’ll want to make sure to provide extra food. From around the middle of the dog’s pregnancy through the end, your pregnant mother will need extra nutrients to sustain herself and the puppies. Make sure you provide your four-legged friend with Authority dog food and fresh dog food so that they can sustain well during this difficult period and get the essential nutrients and vitamins. 

Since your dog will have less room in her stomach as the puppies grow within her, it’s recommended that you feed your pregnant dog several small meals each day rather than one very large meal, which may be difficult for her to tackle. Puppy food can be a good option since it's higher in calories than regular dog food. Moreover, check whether your furry friend needs some dietary supplements by consulting about it with your vet.

Your dog should continue to have gentle exercise over your commands. These exercises may include walks, chasing balls, and catching frisbees during the early weeks of her pregnancy. Toward the midpoint of your dog’s pregnancy, she should only have gentle and enjoyable exercise -- no roughhousing -- and shorter walks are advised.

Also, ensure you use a proper leash and harness for dogs if you walk them during a critical time period like pregnancy. These tools will support your furry friend and help you to have firm control over them outdoors. You can easily find them in any of the pet shops around you.  

The Impact of Your Dog’s Breed 

Some breeds, especially those with large heads, can make for a challenge when it comes to your dog’s labor. For Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, and Boxers, the size of the head compared to the dog’s body can lead to stillborn puppies and problems for the mom giving birth.

Caesarian sections may be necessary for these dogs and are often planned in advance so that your dog doesn’t go into labor. Mastiffs have an unusually long birthing canal, and so C-sections can often be necessary for this breed since labor becomes very challenging, especially after the first puppies are born.

It’s a good idea to check in with your vet or a breeder prior to your dog’s pregnancy to see if they think a C-section will be necessary or if the gestational period and labor will be challenging for your dog. 

Additionally, pregnancy is the period that requires extra care and attention from your end. Providing your pet with a heated dog bed has never been a bad idea, especially if they are pregnant in a cold climate. These beds will give them a comfy place to relax while providing warmth during the winter seasons. 

Vet Visits During Pregnancy 

You may want to visit the vet to determine if your dog is pregnant. If you are running on a tight schedule, which doesn't allow you to go for a physical visit, you should try booking an appointment with an online vet. Whether online or face-to-face visits, your vet can confirm that your pet is expecting with a hands-on examination or with an ultrasound scan or x-ray around the fourth week of your dog’s pregnancy.

Of course, you should also visit your vet if your dog becomes ill during pregnancy or gets parasites. In general, you should avoid giving your dog any drugs or worm treatments while she is expecting without a discussion with your vet.

A visit around the seven-week mark will help your vet evaluate your dog’s general health and set expectations for the dog’s labor. If your dog’s labor does not go smoothly -- for instance, if contractions continue for over 30 minutes without a puppy being born -- you’ll want to call your vet.

After the puppies are all born, both mom and puppies should go to the vet for a checkup to make sure that all are in good health.

Tips for Calming Your Dog at the Vet’s

A trip to the vet’s office is one filled with anxiety and stress not just for the pet but for the pet owner as well. Pets suffer from this anxiety due to a sudden change in their environment and the nature of the clinic in general. A stress-out and hyper-active pet can make the trip to the vet time-consuming and strenuous.

Taking a pet to the vet is a whole lot worse than taking a child to the doctor or dentist. The random movements and moods of the pet can be hard to manage. There are certain steps that pet owners can take beforehand in order to help their pets and reduce their anxieties before such trips. 

Moreover, you can also use calming treats for dogs before a vet’s visit, so that he/she can remain calm during check-ups and treatment. You can choose from the wide variety of calming treats available in the market.  

Familiarize Them With the Car

In order to help your pets better identify with the car and remain calm, positive images need to be connected with the vehicle. This means that it is not enough to just go to the vet’s office in the car, as this will automatically make the pet anxious at the sight of it.

Take your pet to a variety of fun places such as the park or to the store in your car so that the pet learns to relax in the tight environment of the vehicle and has positive expectations from such car trips.

Furthermore, it’s important to use a muzzle for dogs before taking them to the vet. This is because a muzzle can be a useful tool to keep dogs safe and prevent them from hurting or biting nearby humans and other dogs. This is crucial in circumstances where your dog might be fearful or in an unfamiliar setting.  

Try Calming Herbs and Drugs

There is a wide range of pet calming drugs and natural herbs sold over the counter which can keep pets calm for extended periods of time. Some of the best calming agents contain Tryptophan or chamomile.

One can consult a vet regarding the best calming agent for the given breed of dog. Making the pet ingest such agents just before the trip can make things easier during travel and during the check-up at the clinic.

Choose an Empathetic and Licensed Vet

Vets that treat their animal patients coldly often induce more anxiety in them. Choosing a vet that bonds correctly with the pet is vital in keeping them free from stress and anxiety during the check-up. It’s also important that you choose a licensed veterinarian because only he will be able to perform the correct pregnancy diagnosis and decide on proper treatment if required. 

Some vets are experts at handling animals and are playful with them from the beginning of the check-up in order to keep them calm during various procedures.

Carry Treats

This is one of the most effective ways of not only keeping pets calm during visits to the vet but also helping them develop a better attitude through positive reinforcement.

Treats should be given for numerous successful activities such as keeping calm in the car, traveling to the vet’s office without a fuss, and for undergoing a check-up. Treats should be given after each such completed activity. Added to this, the owners should bring their pets to the vets routinely in order to develop the habit. 

More on Dog and Puppy Care

How to Buy Puppy Supplies
The Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats
The Proper Nutrition for Feeding a Puppy

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis, or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

Was this article helpful?
Pregnant Female

You May Also Like

Image for Dog Diseases and Symptoms: A to Z
Dog Diseases and Symptoms: A to Z

A Comprehensive List of Ailments That Could Affect Your Dog

Read More
Image for Is My Dog Pregnant?
Is My Dog Pregnant?

Dog Pregnancy Tests

Read More
Image for Pregnant Dog Symptoms
Pregnant Dog Symptoms

What to Expect When Your Dog Is Pregnant

Read More