You can do several things to reduce the stresses on your pregnant cat or dog. Taking the right actions improves the chances for the healthy delivery of your pet’s offspring. You should involve your vet throughout your pet’s pregnancy, as well as post-birth care of the mother and litter. In this article, we’ll give some important tips regarding what to do to help ensure a safe and successful pregnancy for your dog or cat. For other pets, your veterinarian will be able to provide you with more specialized knowledge
You’ll want your vet to give your dog a full checkup as soon as you know she is pregnant. Your veterinarian will take the opportunity to discuss your dog’s care and comfort during the gestation period and what to look for in terms of possible problems. Certain breeds must deliver via Caesarian, and if your dog is among these, your vet will work out delivery plans with you.
Here are general tips that apply to pregnant dogs:
Feeding: Your dog’s basic adult formula food won’t deliver the added nutrition and calories your dog will need during lactation. Under your vet’s guidance, slowly switch back to puppy food over the course of 7 to 10 days after delivery and stick with it until the puppies are weaned. Puppy food is richer in nutrition and calories. Don’t be surprise if your dog goes off feed for the first few weeks, her appetite will return. Feed her controlled portions more frequently throughout the day, as per your vet’s instructions. Dry, wet or a mix of both are fine. Many vet offices sell one or more brands of highly nutritious dog food, including formulations for pregnant and nursing dogs.
Exercise: Short walks are best, three to five per day. You don’t want to overexert your dog during this period, and you should avoid stresses such as showing the dog or giving her intensive training. Walk along smooth paths where your dog won’t bump into rocks, and limit her play with other dogs to protect the unborn puppies.
Vaccinations and parasites: Hopefully, your dog is current on her vaccinations before she gets pregnant. If not, your vet will know which vaccinations can be administered and which must wait. Continue the parasite prevention schedule you’ve established with your veterinarian, and check whether regular wormings are needed during the early stages.
Delivery: Unless your dog has special needs, you can manage a home delivery. Set up a private place, like a large cardboard box with clean towels, sheets or blankets, in a quiet location where your dog can rest securely during the later stages, delivery and weaning. Speak with your vet about specific actions to take during and after the birth of the litter.
Feeding: Cats’ appetites really pick up during pregnancy, especially the late phases. Gradually switch to a kitten food recommended (and perhaps sold) by your veterinarian, and feed your pregnant cat, or “queen,” several times throughout the day. Don’t be surprised if your cat develops quite an appetite during the late stages.
Petting: Pregnant cats are often more affectionate and love being cuddled. The only caution is not to stroke her tummy, as it is a very sensitive area. If you need to lift your cat, scoop up her bottom rather than lifting from the middle. Avoid play during the late stages, and let your cat sleep as long as she likes.
Vaccinations and Parasites: The same general advice for dogs applies to cats. Your vet will take a blood sample to check your cat’s antibody levels to see whether a vaccination is needed. Continue flea and worming preventative throughout the pregnancy as directed by your vet.
Delivery: A large, tall cardboard box is a great birthing center for your cat. Clean linens, a comfortable temperature, cat-box access and constant supply of water are all important. If you cat chooses a different nest location, mover her and the kittens to the box after birth. A microwaveable beanie bag will keep newborn’s comfortably warm. Your vet will alert you to any signs that the delivery is in difficulty, so be prepared to transport the mother directly to the vet if necessary. Occasionally, a Caesarian may be needed, and your veterinarian can explain this in detail should it be required.
Birthing is a natural part of a pet’s life cycle, although many owners neuter their pets due to overpopulation. Work with your vet to assist your pet during this exciting time and she will have the best chance of a healthy delivery.
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.