In the pandemic, our resources have been limited because of the numerous lockdowns. As such, most of us have been making use of the things available at home, so as to minimise the risk and avoid stepping out unless absolutely necessary.
For pet owners, this has been a challenging time. Especially for those whose pets are pregnant. If you have a dog at home who can deliver her litter of pups any day now, know that she will require loads of care and attention.
Dr Pranjal Khandare, a veterinary officer at Wiggles.in shares with indianexpress.com some basic things that you must remember if you are a dog parent. Read on.
* Diet: Your dog requires a different diet and more nutrition when she is pregnant. Vets recommend puppy food, since it is high in nutrition, calories, energy and protein. Introduce the puppy food to her slowly, mix it with her usual food in small quantities and gradually increase the amount. Continue this till she is nursing the puppies. Three to four small meals a day are recommended.
If she is getting the right amount of nutrition, additional supplements won’t be needed. But since every dog’s requirements are different, it’s best to speak to your vet about it.
* Vaccinations: There is a high risk of a dog mother transferring a virus to her puppies. Hence, you should get her vaccinated before she gets pregnant. If her vaccinations are due during the course of her pregnancy, speak to your vet, but never vaccinate a pregnant dog.
* Deworming and flea protection: Pregnant dogs can pass worms to their puppies. Hence, flea protection and deworming is important. Not all deworming medicines are safe for pregnant dogs. If your dog’s deworming is due during her pregnancy, ask your vet for advice.
* Exercise: Regular, light, easy-breezy exercise is recommended. Heavy exercise should be avoided four to six weeks into her pregnancy. Walks or strolls in the evening are the best options.
Preparing for birth
“Make a whelping box, which is big, warm, cozy and comfortable for the dog to give birth in. If you cannot find a box, find an isolated space in your home and cover it with blankets, puppy pads and towels. Keep an emergency kit handy; it should include:
– A digital thermometer
– Absorbent, disposable pads
– Disposable exam gloves
– Hand towels
– Wash cloths
– Rubbing alcohol
“Don’t forget to keep your vet’s contact details handy,” says Dr Khandare.
Signs of labor
Now that you’re prepared, you must keep an eye out for signs of labor. Here are some signs that indicate your dog is in labor:
– 48 hours before birth — nesting
– 24 hours before birth — temperature drops below 100-degree Fahrenheit
– 6 to 12 hours before — pacing, panting, vomiting and digging
Assistance during birth
The doctor explains that most dog mothers do not require assistance unless there are complications. “The best thing you can do is keep your distance and watch her closely. When the puppies are born, the mother will lick off the membrane and chew off the umbilical cord. If your dog is not doing this within two minutes, you will have to assist her in cleaning the membrane and cutting the umbilical cord. Speak to your vet about the right way to do this.
“Labor can last for several hours and puppies can be born 40-60 minutes apart. She may take a break halfway through delivering the puppies, this break can last for 4 hours or more.”
Signs of complications
Call your vet immediately if:
1. It has been 24 hours since her temperature dropped and she has not gone into labor.
2. She is having contractions or is straining for more than 45 minutes and no puppy is coming out.
3. A puppy is stuck in the birth canal or the mother is too tired to push anymore.
4. It has been more than four hours since the last pup dropped, and there are more puppies yet to come out.
5. It appears she is in extreme pain.
6. Her gestation period has reached 65 days.
7. You have other doubts or concerns while she is giving birth.
“Once the puppies are born, call your vet. They will give further instructions. Avoid handling the puppies immediately. Call a vet at home to avoid putting stress on the mother and her puppies,” the doctor concludes.