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Care of the pregnant dog

The normal length of pregnancy in dogs is 65 days although this can vary by a couple of days either way. The time period is estimated from the last day of mating (if known).

During pregnancy, owners should ensure:

  1. Adequate exercise - dogs can exercise/work normally for the first 35 days. Taper off exercise as whelping approaches.

  2. Feeding - feed the dog her NORMAL diet for the first six weeks of pregnancy then switch to high calcium puppy food. You may need to feed the pregnant dog two to three times per day in late pregnancy. Be careful to avoid obesity. Pregnant dogs have increased requirements for protein and vitamins as well as energy later in pregnancy. These requirements will continue until the pups are weaned. Often they will lose their appetite just before whelping.

  3. Vaccinations - ensure her vaccinations are up to date. If your dog has not been vaccinated or is overdue, it is ideal to vaccinate before the 42nd day of pregnancy. The timing is not essential, however good immune status of your dog will ensure maternal immunity to the pups. Although this immunity is only temporary, it helps protect pups at a time when they are most susceptible to parvo, distemper and other diseases.

  4. Parasite control - regular worming, especially for roundworms and hookworms is important. Monitor weight increases, as you may need to increase the dose for Heartworm tablets as she gets heavier. Continue regular insecticidal baths for ticks and fleas.

  5. Prepare a suitable whelping area - this should be warm, dry and clean. Shredded newspaper is ideal. Don't put the dog into the whelping area until just before she's due or she could contaminate the area with worms and fleas. Get the area ready about five to seven days before she's due. 

  6. Bath the dog for fleas before placing her in the whelping area.

  7. Clipping - long haired dogs may need to be clipped along the abdomen and around the back-end before whelping. 

  8. Drugs - check with your vet if unsure about the effects of administered drugs to your dog.

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