Many pet owners choose to spay their female dogs—the best option if you're not planning on breeding. On the other hand, some owners want to embark on the exciting journey of breeding and caring for a litter of puppies. If you're up for the challenge, breeding and raising puppies can be a rewarding experience. Here are a few things you should know about your female dog going into the pregnancy and delivery journey.
Dog Pregnancy 101
First, it's important to note that choosing to breed will require some specific and hands-on work on your part, starting with research and knowledge. Before breeding your female dog, be sure to have her checked out by your vet to see that she's healthy, ready for pregnancy, and updated on all vaccinations.
Spotting the Pregnancy
Once you've taken the initial steps to breed your female dog, it's time to wait and watch for pregnancy. Look out for these signs to spot pregnancy:
Swollen and prominent teats (typically 25-30 days into pregnancy)
Vaginal discharge (one month into pregnancy)
Loss of appetite
Changes in behavior, possibly including depression or lethargy
Thickening of abdomen around the uterus
The best way to tell that your dog is pregnant, however, is to bring her to the vet for an ultrasound or testing. When you suspect that your dog is pregnant, bring her into the veterinarian.
Keep your dog healthy in the same way you would when she isn't pregnant, including a healthy diet and regular exercise. You may notice your dog begins to "nest" when she nears delivery; when this begins, consider giving her a designated place to deliver such as a cardboard box with a blanket or dog pillow.
Labor and Delivery
When your dog is ready to deliver, she should be able to handle everything on her own. If you are ever concerned about your dog during labor and delivery, call your vet immediately. Before your dog is due to deliver, contact your vet for instructions and information about how to assist your dog through a normal delivery.