Pregnancy

  • 31/01/2010
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The best days to palpate (feel for) puppies are about day 28 to day 35 of the pregnancy. Usually it is best to count from the last breeding day as most dogs actually ovulate shortly before they quit standing for the male. X-rays can confirm pregnancy after 45 days. Sometimes it is worthwhile to take X-rays to get an idea of the number of puppies -- usually we do this only if we suspect that there are problems or if the bitch has had trouble delivering puppies previously.

It is best to gradually change the bitch to a puppy formula dog food at about 35 days of the pregnancy (take about a week to slowly make the change, mixing in small amounts of puppy food with normal food the first day and gradually increasing the amount). Most bitches require about 1.5 times the normal amount of food for their maintenance at the time of birth. As the puppies grow, she may require as much as 3 times normal amounts of food to support lactation. You should continue to keep her on a puppy formula until the puppies are weaned.

Do not supplement calcium during the pregnancy. This seems to lead to problems with uterine inertia, increasing the probability that a caesarean section may be necessary. It may also contribute to the frequency of seizure problems associated with low blood calcium levels during lactation (milk tetany). Know your veterinarian's emergency procedures before the delivery. If your vet refers emergencies to an emergency clinic, make sure you know where it is and how to call if you need help. If your veterinary hospital staff covers its own emergencies it is still important to know the procedure for contacting someone before the need arises. Ask about this. Write the phone numbers down where you can easily find them.

Your vet is likely to have some references that cover construction of breeding boxes to protect the puppies. I can not remember the titles of the ones we have, offhand --- they are from Purina, though.

Providing a safe environment for the puppies is important. More puppies die from hypothermia than anything else, probably. Making arrangements to ensure the puppies will stay warm is important. On the other hand, you can't just warm up a whole room to 80 degrees because Mom has to be willing to stay with the puppies. The puppy heating pads are nice and sometimes other arrangements can be made to safely supply a warm spot for the puppies without making it too hot for the mother.

Breeders are a good source of information in most cases and it would be a good idea to continue to try to talk to yours. They often have practical information that vets don't have experience with.

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