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Pregnancy in dogs is a very important time in their owners’ lives. It is during this period that our beloved pets need much more attention than usual. Some people believe that the pregnancy of animals does not require any special care on the part of their owners. For such people, pregnancy is an absolutely normal natural process. It would seem that a dog would be able to cope with everything on its own, because this procedure was designed by nature and our intervention is absolutely unnecessary, but this is not the case at all.

During pregnancy, the dog’s immunity and the dog’s whole body are under stress. The formation of the foetus requires a significant mobilisation of the mother’s body, because the formation of the foetus’s skeleton during pregnancy is carried out using the resources of her body. As a result, chronic diseases (urocystitis, gastroenterocolitis, etc.) and new health problems may be exacerbated during the period of foetal development.

The cardiovascular system undergoes marked changes during pregnancy, with changes in blood parameters. Dithe aphragm is pushed forward, the load on the respiratory organs increases, breathing becomes frequent and deep, and gas exchange in the lungs increases dramatically.

The liver and kidneys are also under greater strain, removing harmful metabolic products not only from the mother’s body but also from the foetus.

Preparing for childbirth

The most appropriate age for mating is 2-2.5 years. Preparation for breeding begins with a veterinary examination, which will take blood, urine, etc. samples to ensure that the dog is free from kidney, liver and other internal organ diseases, anaemia and chronic inflammatory processes.

De-helminticisation and removal of fleas and all possible sources of infections such as ear, gum and perianal inflammation should be carried out before the start of estrus. The animal must have received all preventive vaccinations.

Usually, dogs are wormed on day 10-14, and after a day a repeat of the so-called control worming can be carried out. The date of mating must be remembered because it is important toi allows you to determine the period of pregnancy and the onset of labour.

Periods, stages and signs of pregnancy

A normal pregnancy usually lasts 61-66 days, although slight variations of 2-3 days, depending on the breed, are possible, both on the smaller side and on the larger side.

It is difficult to notice any changes in the pet’s condition during the early part of the pregnancy. In some cases, apathy and lethargy may be observed at 2-3 weeks.

Towards the end of the first month (day 25-30), the skin near the mammary glands swells and the glands become clearly visible, and in dogs with light skin they appear very bright pink; the abdomen behind the ribs is clearly visible. However, this is not always the case.

Diagnosis of pregnancy by ultrasound can be made from day 21-24 (three weeks). The ultrasound machine’s screen clearly visualises the amniotic bubbles with the embryos inside. To determine fetal viability, ultrasound is best performed later in labourand the other side. Early diagnosis of pregnancy can be made by laboratory tests – a comprehensive serum test to determine the level of the hormone relaxin.

Second month (day 29-61). Signs of pregnancy become evident. The mammary glands enlarge strongly. Milk usually appears 7-10 days before birth, but in first-time bitches milk may appear a few hours before or during labour, while in first-time bitches lactation may start from day 40. Three weeks before delivery, the pet’s weight starts to increase markedly.

Between days 38 and 45 (week 6-7), the skull bones and ribs of the embryos become identifiable, and it is possible to feel the individual foetuses in the uterus.

Feeding during pregnancy

There are no specific dietary requirements for the first half of pregnancy, except that it should be fully balanced with the addition of vitamin and mineral supplements. If the dog’s diet consists of dry food, move on to foodFor pregnant and lactating bitches, add folic acid and this will be absolutely sufficient to provide her with all the nutrients she needs. If your beloved bitch is on a natural diet, vitamin and mineral complexes should be added to the diet, as the need for vitamins increases by a factor of 2 to 2.5 at this time. Vitamin-mineral complexes for pregnant and lactating bitches are best suited.

During the second half of pregnancy, the uterus of the pregnant dog enlarges considerably, which prevents the pet from consuming the previous amount of food in a single feeding and from filling its stomach completely. During this period, not only should the calorific value and usefulness of the food be increased, but also the fragmentation of the food should be increased, i.e. 3 feedings a day and 4 feedings, but with smaller portions, during the 2 weeks prior to the birth.

Walking and lifestyle

Try not to stimulate your baby for no reason, and do not take her for long car journeys or walks during this period to visit with her. Never allow your pet to jump from a height. Lift her gently and slowly, supporting her body from the bottom and pressing her against you. However, short walks and routine hygiene must be maintained and kept short and gentle (according to the pet’s condition).

Hygiene of the pregnant dog

Hygienic care of the dog consists of a daily examination of the pet, brushing of the coat and monitoring of the skin. In the second half of pregnancy, a pregnant bitch may have mucous secretions from the oral cavity, which she usually licks off, but if she does not do so on her own, it is recommended that she flushes the secretions with clean water. However, two weeks before giving birth, the animal should no longer be washed.
If your beloved pet has not been dehelminticised before whelping, you will now have to postpone this process until two weeks after the birth. Even during the preparation for whelping, avoid the use of medications, which should certainly be administered by a practitioner to a dog about to give birth.

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