The creation of life is a magical occurrence, and when a mother gives birth, we are able to witness one of the greatest achievements in all of nature. We are always proud to welcome new life into our own lives, especially when it’s a litter of adorable puppies.
So what is it like knowing that your puppy is going to make you a grandparent? It’s a feeling that despite the part you play, you still maintain the same pride that a mother has when she spots her younglings moving around and squeaking for attention. It’s a proud moment to look forward to, but what you do between here and now will make a difference on how smoothly a pregnancy carries on.
Start by looking for signs that you’re going to be a grandparent. If you suspect your dog is pregnant at all, like having been bred recently, it helps to discuss the situation with a vet or expert as to how far along she might be.
The vet can usually tell right away by examining the mother’s belly. They will also be able to provide you with an accurate initial pregnancy date, if you aren’t sure when they had their last breeding experience. Normal gestation for a dog is 63 days, so you can calculate your dog’s due-date to an approximate period. That will allow you to create plans to be home with your dog when the time comes.
Early pregnancy detection allows you the ability to provide a stress-free environment, which is crucial during the early stages of pregnancy. This can result in healthier puppies and better development, since the mother can relax and thereby release fewer stress-related hormones.
Health and care for your pregnant dog
Remember: Enough, but not too much is an important food factor. Early overeating can lead to labor issues occurring later on by making the puppies either too big (it’s possible) or by encouraging the building up of fat around the reproductive areas, making it difficult to give birth. Wait until approximately 3-4 weeks of pregnancy, then food intake should increase to about 40% of their regular diet. This is the time period in which the unborn puppies begin demanding significantly more nutrition, and any extra food prior to this period won’t have a positive effect.
Be cautious about using calcium supplements and consult with your veterinarian before adding any supplements to your pregnant dog’s body. Calcium supplements are associated with Canine Eclampsia, otherwise known as milk-fever which can be fatal.
It’s also a good idea to consult with your vet concerning de-worming processes and time-frames that will help eliminate any threats to the mother and her litter. De-worming should never be done during the first half of pregnancy, but is often recommended during the later stages after the puppies have significantly developed.
Signs of labor
Getting prepared for birth is important, and you always want to provide a quality safe and sanitary area for this magical time. Signs of nesting are the very first thing that you should notice. An expectant mother will often hide and be resistant to moving. They may even dig or move things around to protect a spot they prefer. This is completely natural and it’s not a good idea to move them from a chosen spot.
Shivering is completely normal, often the result of labor contractions. This doesn’t mean you need to put a blanket over them or try to keep them warm.
Initial signs that labor is on its way would start with the hollowing out of her belly area as the puppies begin to move towards their future freedom.
A significant drop in body temperature is a definite sign of impending labor. Normally a dog’s body temperature is 101, a dog’s temperature in labor will drop to around 97-98. This is safe and needs to stay within that range as long as she is giving birth. If it rises radically, you’ll need to consult a vet because there could be danger of infection.
You may even notice that your dog has now simply spaced out and is staring into the distant lands beyond. It’s a good sign that they are calm and ready for what is coming (puppy college plans?).
Sensitivity will often leave anyone irritable and grouchy, and a labored dog will likely show a few signs of irritation, so don’t get mad or frustrated if she snaps at you to tell you not to do something.
Another sign is neediness. They want you to pay attention to them…at least until the first puppy is born. It’s a good idea to go ahead and satisfy their need and give them all the attention they want.
In the end, you’re going to end up with a whole bunch more mouths to feed. Luckily, your proud puppy-mama is going to take care of things for now. Just be sure she’s comfortable and well-fed because she’s still going to be eating not only for herself but for a whole litter of hungry healthy puppies as well.