How to Care for Your Pregnant Dog


If you are a dog owner and your furry friend is pregnant, it is important to provide her with proper care during this crucial time. Just like humans, pregnant dogs need special attention and care to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. In this article, we will provide you with tips and guidelines on how to care for your pregnant dog.

First and foremost, it is essential to schedule regular visits with your veterinarian throughout your dog’s pregnancy. Your vet will be able to monitor your dog’s health and provide you with important information about the pregnancy. They can also perform tests to confirm the pregnancy and determine the number of puppies your dog is carrying. Regular check-ups can help catch any potential problems early on and ensure a safe delivery for your dog.

In addition to vet visits, you should also make sure your pregnant dog is eating a healthy and balanced diet. Feeding your dog high-quality dog food that is rich in nutrients and protein is crucial during pregnancy. You may also need to adjust the amount of food you are feeding your dog as her pregnancy progresses. It is important to consult with your vet about your dog’s dietary needs during pregnancy.

Understanding Canine Pregnancy

If you suspect that your dog is pregnant, it’s important to understand the stages of canine pregnancy and the signs to look out for. Here’s what you need to know:

Stages of Dog Pregnancy

Dog pregnancy typically lasts for around 63 days or nine weeks. It’s divided into three stages:

  1. Early Stage: This stage lasts for the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. During this time, the fertilized eggs travel to the uterus and begin to implant themselves in the uterine lining. Your dog may not show any physical signs of pregnancy during this stage, but her nipples may become slightly enlarged.
  2. Middle Stage: This stage lasts from around week 4 to week 6 of pregnancy. During this time, the puppies’ organs begin to develop and they start to resemble tiny dogs. Your dog’s belly will begin to grow and she may start to gain weight.
  3. Late Stage: This stage lasts from around week 6 to week 9 of pregnancy. During this time, the puppies will continue to grow and your dog’s belly will become very large. She may start to show signs of nesting behavior, such as digging or rearranging bedding.

Signs of Pregnancy in Dogs

There are several signs that may indicate that your dog is pregnant. Here are some of the most common:

  • Enlarged Nipples: Your dog’s nipples may become larger and darker in color.
  • Increased Appetite: Pregnant dogs may start to eat more than usual.
  • Behavioral Changes: Your dog may become more affectionate or clingy.
  • Vomiting: Some pregnant dogs experience morning sickness, which can cause them to vomit.
  • Lethargy: Pregnant dogs may become more tired than usual.

If you suspect that your dog is pregnant, it’s important to take her to the vet for a check-up. Your vet can confirm the pregnancy and give you advice on how to care for your pregnant dog.

Pre-Pregnancy Veterinary Care

Taking care of your pregnant dog starts before she even conceives. Pre-pregnancy veterinary care is essential to ensure that your dog is healthy and ready for pregnancy. Here are some important things to consider:

Health Checkup and Vaccinations

Before breeding your dog, it is important to schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a pre-breeding health checkup. During this visit, your veterinarian will examine your dog’s overall health and identify any underlying health issues that may affect her pregnancy. Your veterinarian will also ensure that your dog is up-to-date on all of her vaccinations, including rabies, distemper, and parvovirus.

Genetic Screening and Tests

Genetic screening and tests are important to identify any underlying genetic conditions that may affect your dog’s pregnancy or the health of her puppies. Your veterinarian may recommend genetic testing for conditions such as hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and other genetic diseases that are common in your dog’s breed. Additionally, your veterinarian may recommend testing for sexually transmitted diseases, such as brucellosis, which can affect your dog’s fertility and the health of her puppies.

By taking care of your dog’s health before pregnancy, you can ensure that she is healthy and ready for pregnancy. Regular veterinary care is essential to ensure that your dog has a healthy pregnancy and delivers healthy puppies.

Nutrition During Pregnancy

Caring for a pregnant dog requires a lot of attention, especially when it comes to nutrition. A well-fed dog during pregnancy will have a better chance of delivering healthy puppies. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when it comes to nutrition during pregnancy.


Dietary Adjustments

During pregnancy, your dog’s nutritional needs will change. You will need to adjust your dog’s diet to ensure that she is getting all the nutrients she needs. It is recommended to switch to a high-quality puppy food that is formulated for pregnant or nursing dogs. Puppy food is higher in calories, protein, and fat, which will help support your dog’s increased energy needs and the growth of her puppies.

It is important to feed your pregnant dog multiple small meals throughout the day, instead of one large meal. This will help prevent digestive issues and ensure that your dog is getting enough nutrients. Make sure to provide ample fresh water for your dog at all times.

Supplements and Vitamins

In addition to a well-balanced diet, your pregnant dog may benefit from certain supplements and vitamins. Consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any supplements or vitamins. Some common supplements and vitamins that may be recommended for pregnant dogs include:

  • Calcium: Calcium is essential for the growth and development of bones in puppies. Your dog may need a calcium supplement to ensure that she is getting enough calcium.
  • Iron: Iron is important for the production of red blood cells. Pregnant dogs may require additional iron to support the growth of their puppies.
  • Folic Acid: Folic acid is important for the development of the nervous system in puppies. Your dog may benefit from a folic acid supplement during pregnancy.
  • Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help support your dog’s immune system and prevent oxidative damage.

In conclusion, providing proper nutrition to your pregnant dog is essential for the health and well-being of both your dog and her puppies. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations on diet and supplements.

Exercise and Activity

When it comes to caring for your pregnant dog, exercise and activity are important factors to consider. However, it’s important to tailor physical activity to her specific needs, as every canine pregnancy is unique. Here are some tips to help you create a safe and effective exercise routine for your pregnant dog.

Safe Exercise Routines

Regular exercise is important for keeping your dog’s muscles toned and reducing weight gain. Short, gentle walks are a good way to achieve this, as they promote healthy blood circulation for the puppies. However, it’s important to avoid activities that could cause injury or overexertion, such as jumping, running, or rough play.


Swimming is another great exercise option for pregnant dogs, as it provides a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints. Just be sure to supervise your dog at all times and avoid deep water, as it can be dangerous for pregnant dogs.

Activity Limitations

As your dog’s pregnancy progresses, you may need to adjust her exercise routine to accommodate her changing needs. During the later stages of pregnancy, your dog may tire more easily and require more rest. It’s important to listen to your dog’s body and adjust her activity level accordingly.

In addition, you should avoid exposing your pregnant dog to extreme temperatures, as this can be dangerous for both her and her puppies. On hot days, keep your dog indoors in a cool, air-conditioned space, and on cold days, provide her with a warm, comfortable place to rest.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your pregnant dog gets the exercise and activity she needs to stay healthy and happy throughout her pregnancy.

Creating a Comfortable Environment

During pregnancy, your dog’s comfort should be a top priority. Creating a comfortable environment for your pregnant dog can help her relax and reduce stress, which is essential for her health and the health of her puppies. Here are some tips for creating a comfortable environment for your pregnant dog.

Preparing a Whelping Area

Before your dog gives birth, you should prepare a whelping area for her. This area should be quiet, secluded, and free from distractions. It should also be large enough for your dog to move around comfortably. You can use a large crate or a small room in your house for this purpose.

Make sure to line the whelping area with soft, comfortable bedding, such as blankets or towels. This will provide a warm and cozy spot for your dog to rest. You should also provide a box or a bed for your dog to give birth in.


Temperature and Bedding

Maintaining the right temperature in the whelping area is crucial for your dog’s comfort. The temperature should be between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a heating pad or a heat lamp to maintain the temperature in the whelping area.

Additionally, you should provide your dog with plenty of clean, fresh water and food. You can switch to a high-quality puppy food during the 5th or 6th week of pregnancy to meet her nutritional demands. You should also increase the amount that you feed your dog by 20-25%.

In conclusion, creating a comfortable environment for your pregnant dog is essential for her well-being and the health of her puppies. By preparing a whelping area and maintaining the right temperature and bedding, you can help your dog relax and reduce stress during pregnancy.

Monitoring Health and Behavior

As a responsible dog owner, monitoring your pregnant dog’s health and behavior is crucial to ensure the well-being of both the mother and her puppies. Here are some things you should keep in mind:

Regular Veterinary Visits

Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are essential during your dog’s pregnancy. Your vet can monitor your dog’s health, provide guidance on nutrition, and detect any potential problems early on. It is recommended to schedule a vet visit at least once a month during the first two trimesters, and then every two weeks during the final trimester.

During these visits, your vet will perform a physical exam, check your dog’s weight, and monitor her bloodwork. They may also recommend additional diagnostic tests, such as an ultrasound or X-ray, to monitor the puppies’ growth and development.

Recognizing Emergency Signs

It is important to be able to identify signs of complications or problems during your dog’s pregnancy. If you notice any of the following signs, seek veterinary care immediately:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures or convulsions

In addition to these emergency signs, you should also be aware of any changes in your dog’s behavior. Keep an eye out for nesting behavior, increased irritability, or a decrease in activity level. These changes could indicate that your dog is getting ready to give birth, and you should prepare accordingly.

By monitoring your pregnant dog’s health and behavior, you can help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy for both your dog and her puppies.

Preparing for Labor and Delivery

As your pregnant dog’s due date approaches, it’s important to prepare for the labor and delivery process. Here are some things you can do to ensure a smooth and safe delivery.

Signs of Impending Labor

It’s important to be able to recognize the signs that your dog is about to go into labor. Some common signs include:

  • Nesting behavior: Your dog may start to create a nest or den in a quiet, secluded area.
  • Loss of appetite: Your dog may stop eating or eat less in the days leading up to labor.
  • Drop in body temperature: Your dog’s body temperature will drop from the normal range of 101-102.5°F to around 98-99°F within 24 hours of labor.
  • Restlessness: Your dog may become more restless and anxious as labor approaches.
  • Panting: Your dog may start to pant heavily as labor approaches.

Assisting with Delivery

While most dogs are able to give birth without assistance, it’s important to be prepared in case of complications. Here are some things you can do to assist with delivery:

  • Create a comfortable birthing area: Your dog will need a quiet, comfortable area to give birth. You can create a nesting box with blankets or towels for her to lie on.
  • Monitor your dog’s progress: Keep an eye on your dog as she goes through the delivery process. Make sure each puppy is delivered safely and that the placenta is expelled after each puppy.
  • Cut the umbilical cord: If the mother does not chew through the umbilical cord, you will need to cut it with sterilized scissors or a blade. Tie the cord with umbilical tape or string about an inch from the puppy’s belly before cutting.
  • Seek veterinary help if necessary: If your dog is having difficulty delivering or if you notice any signs of distress, seek veterinary help immediately.

By preparing for labor and delivery ahead of time, you can help ensure a safe and successful delivery for your pregnant dog.

Postpartum Care

Once your dog has given birth, it’s important to continue providing proper care to ensure the health and well-being of both the mother and her newborn puppies. Postpartum care can be broken down into two main categories: caring for the mother and caring for the newborn puppies.


Caring for the Mother

During the postpartum period, the mother dog will need plenty of rest, food, and water. You should continue to provide a high-quality diet that is appropriate for a nursing mother. It’s important to monitor her food and water intake to ensure that she is getting enough to support milk production and maintain her own health.

You should also keep a close eye on the mother’s physical condition. Check her nipples regularly for signs of infection or inflammation, and watch for any unusual discharge or bleeding. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.

Caring for the Newborn Puppies

Newborn puppies are fragile and require careful attention during their first few weeks of life. You should provide a warm, clean, and safe environment for them to grow and develop. Keep the puppies away from any other pets or small children to prevent accidental injury.

It’s important to monitor the puppies’ weight gain and overall health. Make sure they are nursing regularly and getting enough milk from the mother. If you notice any signs of illness or weakness, contact your veterinarian right away.

In addition, you should start socializing the puppies as early as possible. Handle them gently and frequently to help them become comfortable with human interaction. This will help them develop into well-adjusted and friendly adult dogs.

Overall, postpartum care is an important part of ensuring the health and well-being of both the mother and her newborn puppies. By providing proper care and attention, you can help them thrive and grow into happy, healthy adult dogs.