Dog pregnancy, planned or undesired, is a challenging phase and time for most breeders. This is obviously because when your dog is pregnant for the first time, you notice sudden behavioral and physical changes in her. These are, at times, hard to handle.
In this article, we throw light, in a step-by-step manner, on everything you need to do during this phase. Starting from visiting the vet to set up a protected environment for the new-born puppies.
What to Do When Your Dog is Pregnant for the First-Time?
Because a dog’s pregnancy lasts for about 63 days, it is imperative that you start taking the necessary steps without delay.
Most healthy dog pregnancies need the least human intervention. Yet, when your dog is pregnant for the first time, use these tips to help you manage things in the best possible manner.
1. Schedule a vet's visit
The very first thing to do once when you expect that your dog is pregnant for the first time is to visit a veterinarian. An early visit is a must because dog pregnancies last for about 9 weeks, giving you little time to act and care for her.
2. Necessary Tests to Conduct
To begin, the vet will conduct an abdominal ultrasound and will detect the first-time pregnancy in your dog from around three weeks. The method is safe and it creates pictures of your female dog’s womb through sound waves. However, the number of puppies might not be possible to deduce from an ultrasound, as a result, she will need more tests going forward.
Accordingly, there will soon be a Relaxin test to check the hormone levels and confirm your dog’s first pregnancy with more conviction. After this, the vet will typically feel your pregnant dog’s belly, between 28 to 35 days of the pregnancy, to confirm the growth of the puppies. Always make sure that only an experienced vet touches the belly of your dog because doing it without the skill or experience can lead to a disastrous consequence, resulting even in a shocking miscarriage and thereby, a life-long trauma for the dog.
Towards the last stage and from day 45 onwards, take your dog to the vet for an x-ray that finds out the number of puppies in the dog’s womb while also checking their bone structure.
And in the 10-15 days preceding whelping, your vet will check her one last time. This is also very important because the vet will advise you on what to expect from the whelping process. For certain high-risk breeds, the pregnancy can be longer and, therefore, only an experienced vet is the person you should consult especially for a first time canine mother.
3. Start buying equipment
Even when a dog is pregnant for the first time, she will need little to no human intervention during her labor and delivery. However, you should always be ready to assist her in case something goes wrong or if your first-time pregnancy dog is facing a challenge.
Of course, you must consult your vet immediately but keeping a whelping box and a whelping kit ready is the most basic thing to do. Some of the must-have accessories in a whelping kit include:
- Round tip scissors are preferred over the regular ones because they are safer and gentler with fragile puppies. You might need a pair to cut the umbilical cord of the puppies.
- A hemostat is a piece of necessary whelping equipment because it can control excessive bleeding by crimping the umbilical cord.
- Unwaxed dental floss comes to your help when you have reduced the bleeding using the hemostatic forceps and as a consequence, will now, need to tie the cord.
- Surgical gloves and lubricant are important because, in case you need to intervene, you must ensure safety from your side. Touching the dam or the puppies with bare hands is a strict no-no.
- High-precision scale basically helps in checking your pup’s weight regularly, something that the vet will advise and guide you to do right when your dog is pregnant for the first time. Disinfect the scale each time after using it for the entire litter because otherwise, it can cause infections.
- A thermometer is a must-have whelping item since you need to track the puppies’ temperature and because the newborn pups cannot regulate their own body temperature as such. Put the rectal thermometer in the pup with Vaseline and leave it in his/her anus for a minute to get the reading. Make sure noting down the temperature and monitoring it continuously.
- A puppy milk substitute, some NutriCal for dogs and calcium supplements. First-time pregnant dogs can face problems in producing milk, for which the milk substitute is necessary. The other two are good for the growth and well-being of the puppies.
- Puppy whelping forms to keep track of each puppy’s growth and comment on any anomaly or noteworthy thoughts.
Alongside all these, keep disposal syringes for feeding the puppies. It may be required if the first-time pregnant dog feels uncomfortable. Also by colored ribbons to identify the puppies better.
4. Start advertising the new puppies
From the moment your dog is pregnant for the first time, start thinking about the ways of advertising the puppies. The vet can give you a fair idea of the number of puppies.
However, often time, the demand for the puppies is less or the selling price is too low. The puppies can’t be sold too quickly, and you shouldn’t struggle to get some attention. If either occurs, you are not doing it right.
Following are some effective ad writing rules to follow to advertise the beautiful puppies in a desirable manner:
- Make sure that your ad caters to the precise requirements of the audience of the newspaper or website.
- Uphold and highlight the best aspects of the breed, market value, parent’s ranking, rare characteristics, and coat quality and so on.
- Accompany your advertisement with a brilliant, catchy title because that is what the audience will see first.
- Make sure you include all the possible information about the dog and the puppies including health, temperament, breed, registration, and pedigree. Everything should sound clear, positive and descriptive without ambiguity.
- Illustration by means of photos is a must because this adds a much-needed visual appeal to your ad.
- Write your contact address in bold and in details so that prospective buyers can locate you without difficulty.
5. Adapt your dog's diet
A healthy pregnancy and equally healthy puppies are the results of a nutritious diet given when your dog is pregnant. In the first four weeks of pregnancy, your dam will feel a loss of appetite along with a vomiting tendency. As a result, it is better to feed her normally without giving excess calories. Otherwise, it will simply transform into fat due to less movement.
From week five, you can increase the quantity of food. This is when vitamin deficiencies start showing up in the first time pregnant dog. Vets normally suggest pre-natal vitamins and folic acid during this stage to avoid problems like eclampsia. Gradually, you should introduce more fat and protein oriented foods in her diet. Her liver and kidney will have more work to break the food and use it for the body. Make sure she drinks enough water round the clock too.
Depending on her overall health condition, the veterinarian will suggest certain vitamins or supplements, which are mostly water-soluble. Such supplements make up for the lack of calories appearing due to pregnant dogs losing appetite.
6. Educate yourself about potential problems
While you can hope that everything goes well when your dog is pregnant, preparing yourself with the knowledge of the potential problems and symptoms that can occur is smarter.
Canine dystocia or birthing difficulty is the most common problem that can occur during any of the labor phases. The problem implies an abnormal whelping when the temperature of the dam drops down to less than 99 degrees Fahrenheit, extending the labor to twenty-four hours as a result.
Dystocia can affect puppies due to malposition too. Following are some of the dominant types of dystocia you should be aware of when your dog is pregnant for the first time:
- Inertia or Uterine Insufficiency is when the dam has the least number of effective contractions. As a result, the temperature of the damn falls and no puppies are born. Though, in the secondary stage, a few puppies might be born.
- Toxemia or Milk Fever is a drop in blood calcium either during labor or a few weeks after whelping. The symptoms are a sudden rise in blood pressure, kidney failure, and convulsions, at times, even leading to death.
- Gestational Diabetes, either from pancreas failure or an insulin resistance disorder, will lead to your dog feeling extremely lethargic, thirsty and an excessive urge to eat. There will also be a sweet smell in her urine. Meal management and insulin injections can largely treat the problem in most situations.
- Uterine Infections like brucellosis come from a bacterium called Brucella Canis. There are hardly any symptoms but it leads to stillbirth, later-term abortion, premature litters, or extremely sick puppies.
- Birth Canal and Reproductive Tract Issues result from the structural problems in the reproductive tract.
7. Prepare a nest for your dam
When your dog is pregnant for the first time, she will be confused about her bodily changes. Towards the latter half, her tendency to brood and maintain a sedentary lifestyle will increase. That is why; you must provide her with a proper, safe, warm and protected whelping box or whelping area. It will help the puppies too, eventually.
Choose a perfect corner of the house, one that the dog will be most comfortable in. You can either buy one that fits the required size perfectly. Otherwise, you can build your own whelping box using various designs found online. Keep enough paper, heat pad and soft blanket for the whelping process as well as for the newborn puppies.
It is better to get the whelping box ready three weeks before the birth at least. This is because your dam will take some time to identify this safe haven built for her and her puppies.
While this article covers the important areas by touching over the crucial aspects, you can and should take the help of a more detailed guide, especially when your dog is pregnant for the first time.