Mother's Day is almost here! This year, we are celebrating by shedding some light on motherhood from the animal perspective. Spring and Summer are prime seasons for both intentional and accidental breeding in dogs and cats - meaning now is the perfect time to make sure you know how to care for a newly pregnant pet and help her start motherhood off right!
So how do I know my pet is pregnant?
One of the first (and most obvious) ways you will be able to tell your pet is pregnant is by noticing that her heat cycle has stopped. In the days and weeks after, you may also begin to notice a slight increase in appetite, some morning sickness, and your pet’s nipples turning darker and slightly more red. These are all completely normal, and the telltale signs your pet may be preparing for puppies or kittens!
So your pet has all the signs of pregnancy. What next?
At day 25, we will be able to do an ultrasound to confirm your pet is pregnant. This ultrasound will be able to confirm the size of the litter and identify any potential abnormalities that may be forming. This will also be the time to start gradually making some changes to your pet’s daily routine in an effort to make her more comfortable and help her pregnancy along in a healthy way.
First, you will want to start limiting your pet’s exercise. This new momma’s body is going to be expending the majority of its energy on creating the babies, so any further exertion could be harmful to their development. Next, you will want to wean her on to a food that is specially formulated for reproduction or a puppy food (under the direction of your veterinarian of course!). These foods have increased nutrients that will aid your pet’s body in both fetus development and overall health. It will also be a good idea to start feeding her more frequently and in smaller amounts, so as not to over-stuff her once the babies grow big enough to press on her stomach.
As the pregnancy progresses over the following weeks, you will start to notice your pet’s stomach swell and potentially lose hair. This hair loss is completely normal, as well as milk production & leakage, and some clear discharge coming from her vulva. These are all signs that labor, or ‘whelping’, is coming closer! At this time, you will want to prepare a quiet area with lots of comfortable blankets and bedding for your pet to give birth in.
Okay, but what do I do to make sure she has a safe labor?
Right before labor starts, you will notice a decrease in your pet’s temperature as well as an increase in restlessness. Most pets can give birth on their own, but there are a few things to look out for that may be cause for you as her owner to intervene and help her along. First, monitor her contractions. If your pet has been contracting for over an hour or 2 without success, it may be time to give us a call. If she is able to push her puppies/kittens out herself but is not breaking the amniotic sac and/or is failing to clean and dry them off, this may be a time for you to help do both! Always use a clean towel in these situations, and rub the babies gently to help stimulate their breathing. Holding them stomach-side down will also help any remaining amniotic fluid drain from their airways. Once all the babies are clean, dry, and suckling mom’s milk, you are set to go! Continue to monitor both mom and babies, and give us a call to schedule an appointment to make sure no post-labor complications arise.
Do you think your pet is pregnant? Have questions about how to care for puppies or kittens post-whelping? Give us a call at any of our locations!
39th Avenue: (352) 332-2292
Newberry: (352) 472-7035
Main Street: (352) 372-5391
Springhill: (352) 373-7208
Holistic: (352) 332-9991