Get ready to welcome the new bundles of joy with care!

Keen observation and a basic knowledge about pregnancy in dogs can help pet parents to easily identify common pregnancy related problems and provide better care.


Behavioral changes

Approximately 3 to 5 weeks after breeding, many female dogs lose their appetites, and some will have a tendency to vomit. This is usually a short-term change and no treatment is needed for this physiological phenomenon. After the 5th week, the appetite will start increasing. At this time, her food intake can be increased by approximately 20 percent, but she should be fed according to her nutritional needs, her body condition and size of her litter.

As the mommy to be approaches whelping, her appetite will start diminishing again. She may still have an appetite, but her stomach capacity will not allow her to eat normal size meals. Additionally, the pregnant dog has a lower pH in her stomach contents than the non-pregnant dog. The use of antacids and smaller more frequent meals is recommended. Every effort should be made to encourage her to eat until the day she is expected to whelp.
Physical changes to watch out for

  • Female dogs develop a mucoid discharge approximately one month after mating.
  • Body weight begins to increase from day 35 onwards.
  • During the last 3 weeks of the pregnancy, she will have obvious abdominal expansion.
  • Mammary gland enlargement may be seen from day 40 and a serous fluid can be expressed from the glands.
  • Colostrum may be present in the teats in the last 7 days of pregnancy. There is variation on how close to whelping this will occur. Although this alone cannot be used to predict whelping, it is preferred to delay a Caesarean section if possible until after the mother dog is ready to lactate.

Temperamental changes

  • Just like in humans temperament change during pregnancy is quite common in dogs as well. Many pet parents note that their pet become more affectionate. Some of them even get clingy when pregnant.
  • During the later stages of pregnancy, they may become aloof and can become aggressive towards other dogs, particularly other female dogs.
  • Near term, most of them become exercise intolerant and anemic.
  • Lung capacity decreases as the uterus expands which makes them uncomfortable and restless when resting or sleeping as they near term.
  • Female dogs with very large litters may have difficulty in breathing even when they are resting.
  • As the uterus expands, there is increasing compression of the urinary bladder and will need to urinate more frequently.

It is advisable to minimise stress and keep mandatory activity to a minimum level in near-term. Get regular check-ups done at the vet, to monitor her condition throughout the pregnancy. And be excited to welcome the new pups with warmth and affection.

(Dr Karthik V Kuttan is MVSc, (Obstetrics & Gynaecology), College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Thrissur, Kerala)

Nutritional needs for mom to be

The feeding needs of pregnant dogs vary depending upon the stages of pregnancy. It is recommended that you feed the right food in the right quantity to give the right nutrition and avoid unnecessary weight gain.


Dr Divya Tiwari & Dr Himanshu Pratap

Dr Divya Tiwari & Dr Himanshu Pratap

Feeding needs of pregnant and lactating female dogs

After 14 days of pregnancy female dogs should be given ration which is generally 1.5 times of maintenance requirements. In last trimester nutritional requirements should be increased.

The nutritional requirements of a 25 kg mom-to-be include –

  • Protein- 150g/day
  • Energy- 2095.5 kcal/day
  • Dry matter- 562.5 g/day

Feeding at the time of whelping
Female dogs go off food 12 – 15 hours before starting of whelping. The act of parturition involves delivery of single pups at an interval of 15 – 30 minutes. Within this period, mother licks off the pups, cleans uterine membrane and secretions, and cuts umbilical cord by teeth. By the time the next pup is delivered, the first pup is properly cleaned and starts suckling. But sometimes when the litter size is large, the mother gets exhausted. It is necessary to provide some warm sweet milk in between two deliveries.

Feeding needs during lactation

The feeding requirements of lactating mothers are 3 to 4 times of maintenance requirements, depending upon the litter size. During this period she should be given easily digestible high quality protein diet like soya chunks, cereals, eggs, milk, meat, etc.
The feeding requirements for 25kg lactating mother include –

  • Protein- 300g/day
  • Energy – 4192.5kcal/day

Discuss with your veterinarian and get a detailed chart.

(Dr Divya Tiwari, Dr Himanshu Pratap Singh and Dr Anil Yadav are from College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, Mhow, MP)

–by Dr Divya Tiwari, Dr Himanshu Pratap Singh and Dr Anil Yadav