As with humans, there are a number of considerations to be made to maintain the health and well-being of a pregnant dog. The average dog pregnancy is about 60 days during which diet, exercise, and other health issues become particularly important. Many owners will take the position that their dog will take on all the burden of the pregnancy, but a loving owner will take certain steps to ensure their dog and her puppies are healthy.
As you would imagine with pregnant humans, expectant bitches will gradually increase their food consumption. This is because it requires more energy on their part to nourish their prenatal pups. Many experts recommend that during nursing, a mother dog will want to be eating a nutrient-rich, growth supporting food like puppy food. During pregnancy you should transition your dog into this diet so she has time to get accustomed to it.
Dogs even suffer morning sickness and you should expect to see signs of morning sickness at around the 3 week mark. Usually morning sickness in dogs doesn’t last more than a week or so but if it continues longer you should take your dog to the vet. If morning sickness persists, the mother will not be getting enough calories or nutrients to support the healthy development of her pups.
Most pet owners will want to maintain their regular exercise schedule. For expectant mothers, they should be walked at least daily but strenuous exercise should be avoided. This means, you should try to take your dog for a leisurely walk but serious training, showing, and even obedience school may be too labor intensive for a pregnant dog. You should speak to your vet about developing an exercise program, along with diet, that will ensure the health and safety of the mother and her unborn pups. While obesity can be a serious issue for pregnant dogs, wait gain should be fully expected. Still, blood sugar problems may pose a risk to the pups so a balanced diet and exercise program are particularly important.
Parasites and Worms
If your pregnant dog was already taking parasite/worm prevention medication, it is usually safe for her to continue to do so during pregnancy. For example, all current heartworm products on the market have been tested and shown as safe for use during pregnancy and nursing.
Flea control is particularly important as the immune system of pups is not fully developed. There are a number of safe flea control products available, like Capstar and Revolution, but you need to pay attention. Not all flea control products are approved for pregnant dogs or puppies so if you have any concern or questions you should immediately visit your veterinarian.
Many vets will recommend that you isolate the pregnant mother in order to prevent a herpes infection. For adult dogs, herpes usually results in a minor cold with no major associated symptoms. However, herpes can cause serious health problems for developing pups, including death, and even miscarriage for the mother. Isolation is not as difficult as it would seem, as the goal is to isolate your pregnant dog from other dogs for the 3 weeks prior and following delivery.