As responsible pet parents, it is highly recommended to spay and neuter your dogs and cats to prevent pet overpopulation, homelessness, and health issues. However, if you find that your pet is already pregnant, here are some helpful tips on how to responsibly give the best care for your pregnant dog or cat.

 

Signs of a Pregnant Dog or Cat

A visit to the veterinarian for a diagnostic test is the most accurate way to determine if your dog or cat is pregnant. Your vet can examine and confirm pregnancy by feeling the abdomen carefully and performing an ultrasound or hormonal test.

But there are other signs of pet pregnancy to look out for such as:

  • - Break in their heat cycle
  • - Increase in appetite
  • - Weight gain
  • - Increase in nipple size
  • - Swollen pink nipples (usually the earliest sign)
  • - Swollen abdomen
  • - Sleeping more
  • - Vomiting (some is normal, but excessive vomiting requires a trip to the vet)
  • - More affectionate
  • - Seeks out quiet and/or secluded areas for birthing (closer to the end of pregnancy)

 

It is important to remember that there are other conditions that can cause these same symptoms. To rule out any other serious health conditions, take your pet to the veterinarian for a prenatal checkup.

 

Once you’ve confirmed the pregnancy with your vet, it’s important to decide what to do based on how far along your pet is in her pregnancy:

  • - For an unplanned pregnancy, one option is to terminate the pregnancy to help lessen pet overpopulation and homelessness. Discuss this option thoroughly with your vet.
  • - Another option is to allow your pet to go to full term and deliver the kittens. If you choose this option, you will be responsible to make arrangements for the proper care and health for the kittens, as well as making sure they all go to loving and caring homes.

Notes: Pet overpopulation and homelessness is a real problem. Please don't purposely breed your dogs or cats unless you are a responsible breeder who truly cares for their pets’ health and well-being. We highly encourage responsible pet parents to adopt and spay/neuter their pets.

Gestation Period

Dogs are pregnant for approximately 63 days, while cats’ gestation period usually lasts for 65 to 67 days.

 

While you are waiting for the big day to come, it's important that you take good care of your pregnant dog. Here are some things to remember:

 

Proper Nutrition: Pregnant pets need more calories and nutrients since they are eating for two. Make sure to feed your pregnant the high-quality pet food that has been formulated for growth according to AAFCO requirements. This means feeding them puppy or kitten food with plenty of fresh water. By the time they are halfway through their pregnancy, your pet will require twice the calorie intake and would continue to need this while nursing.

 

Your pet may not need any special vitamins or supplements while she is pregnant as long as she is getting the proper nutrition. However, your veterinarian will make some recommendations based on pet’s specific or special needs.

 

Veterinary Care: Your pet will need to see the vet regularly during her pregnancy.

Your vet can perform an ultrasound or blood test to confirm the pregnancy, and around 45 days in, a x-ray can be performed to determine the number and size of the litter. Keep in mind that your dog should not be vaccinated during her pregnancy. You can also ask your veterinarian for any advice about what to do in emergency situations. If you pet is showing any signs of illness, discomfort, bleeding or discharge during her pregnancy, you should bring them to the vet right away because even the slightest complications can cause harm to the litter and to the mother dog or cat. Always contact your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your pet's health.

 

 

 

How Should I Prepare For My Pet To Give Birth?

You should also talk to your veterinarian about what to expect during your pet’s pregnancy and what supplies are needed. To make your pet’s whelping to be as comfortable as possible, it is also helpful to set up a whelping box. Whelping boxes give a safe, warm, and comfortable for your pet to give birth. Ideally, the whelping box should bet set up in a more quiet and secluded area in your home, and away from other pets and people to give the mother her privacy.

 

Here is a Whelping Supply Checklist from AKC.org:

 

  • - Newspaper to line the whelping box during delivery for easy clean up
  • - Non-skid bath mats for bedding after whelping is done
  • - Dry, clean towels to clean the puppies or kittens
  • - Paper towels to help with clean up
  • - Thermometer to check your pet’s temperature before whelping
  • - Unwaxed dental floss to tie off the umbilical cords
  • - Clean scissors to cut the umbilical cords
  • - A heating pad or hot water bottle to keep the puppies or kittens warm (be careful of it not being too hot)
  • - Iodine to clean the puppies’ or kittens’ abdomens after the cord is cut and dab on the end of the cut umbilical cord
  • - A baby scale in ounces
  • - First aid kit
  • - Your veterinarian’s phone number and the number of a nearby emergency clinic

Keep these supplies in a clean, easy-to-access location and get your pregnant pet accustomed and comfortable with the whelping box. Most mother dogs or cats don't need too much help with whelping as long as there are no complications. Their instincts will guide them, but your assistance can help keep her and the litter safe and comfortable.

 

When your pet is about to give birth, watch out for the warning signs of labor. Pregnant mothers may stop eating a few days before whelping and may also start trying to build a “nest” in the whelping box. They may also start to pant heavily, and her temperature will drop from a normal temperature (100-to-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit) to 99 degrees or even lower shortly before going into labor. Approximately 24 hours after this temperature drop, she will whelp, and you should be ready to welcome a new litter of puppies and kittens.

 

 

Potential Pet Pregnancy and Labor Problems

Same with humans, not every pregnancy in a pet goes as planned and it’s important to be aware of the risks that may arise so that you can be prepared to make a trip to your nearest veterinarian. These situations are serious and need to be addressed by a vet immediately.

  • - Some pets are slow to go into labor, but if she shows no signs of whelping for more than 64 days after her last mating or the date of expecting your vet identified, you need to call your veterinarian to see if there is a problem.
  • - Eclampsia is a life-threatening condition with symptoms such as restlessness, pacing, panting, drooling, loss of coordination, muscle spasms or seizure-like movements.
  • - Sometimes the fetuses can abort naturally. Signs that this may have happened may include fever, bleeding, behavioral changes or other changes. In some cases, resorption happens when the mother’s body absorbs the dead fetus.
  • - During your pet’s labor, call your veterinarian immediately if you see signs of the following:
    • - If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of severe discomfort during labor
    • - If more than two hours pass in between the delivery of puppies, or if your dog experiences strong - contractions that last more than 45 minutes without a birth
    • - The warning signs of serious complications such as trembling, collapsing, or shivering
    • - It is normal for dogs to deliver a dark green or bloody fluid after the first puppy, but if this happens before the first puppy, call your veterinarian.

Pregnancy can be a stressful time for pets and their owners. But the more you know about your pet’s pregnancy, you will be better prepared to take care of your dog or cat and their litter. Always consult your veterinarian for all information about your pet’s pregnancy and proper care.

Sources:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/

https://www.akc.org/

https://www.petmd.com/

https://thespricepets.com/

https://animalplanet.com/

https://catster.com