What is the most important thing to know prior to breeding my dog?

There are three things to consider before breeding a dog. First, consider if there will be enough homes for the puppies, as litter sizes can vary and potential owners can change their minds. Second, consider if the dog is a good representative of its breed and if genetic screening for potential diseases has been done. Lastly, make sure you have funds set aside for any complications or problems that may arise.

Dr. Mary Sebzda Theriogenologist
Newport Harbor Animal Hospital

How soon should I visit the veterinarian with my dog?

Most dogs start with a physical exam for health reasons, but genetic screening should be done up to the point where they're two years old. If we're on a heat cycle of the dog, we usually expect to see the female within five to seven days after the onset of heat for evaluation and timing of ovulation for breeding.

What are some signs of pregnancy in the dog?

There aren't many outward signs of dog pregnancy until later in the pregnancy. These may include abdominal swelling, some mammary development of her mammary glands, and nesting.

What tests are available to diagnose my dog's pregnancy, and can I use an over-the-counter progesterone kit to diagnose pregnancy in the dog?

One of the earliest and best tests for detection of pregnancy is ultrasound. There is also a hormonal test called relaxin, but most veterinarians prefer ultrasound due to its accuracy. You cannot use progesterone to detect pregnancy in dogs.

What should I do in preparation for my dog's labor?

You should read and gather information from good references. Additionally, prepare resources such as a scale to weigh the puppies, a thermometer, milk replacer, and something to externally identify the puppies.

What is whelping and what do I need to prepare for it?

Whelping is the delivery of the puppies. It happens in three stages: restlessness and nervousness, expulsion of the puppies, and expulsion of the placentas.

How should I feed my dog for a healthy pregnancy?

Feed them a healthy, balanced diet until about the last two to three weeks of pregnancy when you should transition them to a diet that's aimed at growth.

What are some possible complications of pregnancy?

Complications can include abnormal labor, uterine infections, hemorrhage, and torsion of a uterine horn among others.

What should I be doing while my dog is in labor?

Minimize stress for the mother. Keep the area clean and dry, dry and warm the puppies, and keep the mom physically comfortable. Observe her for any abnormal behavior.

How can I help my dog recover after pregnancy?

After delivery, the dog will need to eat increasing volumes of food up until the puppies start solid foods themselves at four weeks of age. Also, restrict the mom and other dogs in the household from visiting with strange dogs during the first three weeks of nursing to prevent exposure to certain viruses.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (949) 612-2756, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Dog Reproductive Services - FAQs 1

Dr. Mary Sebzda Theriogenologist
Newport Harbor Animal Hospital

How can I tell if my dog is about to go into labor?

Normally, because we anticipated this labor and prepared for the breeding, we can provide you a due date. However, if the ovulation timing didn't happen, we can monitor progesterone levels towards the end of her pregnancy to define when the dog should be in labor. Also, in stage one labor, signs from the mother like listlessness, restlessness, excessive panting, and a temperature drop 24 hours before labor starts can be observed.

Is it safe for my dog to give birth at home?

Yes, in general it is safe. If you are prepared, have a suitable room that is warm in temperature, a clean, spacious whelping box set aside for her, and necessary supplies to assist with the whelping process, home is often the best place for the dog to give birth.

How can I tell if my dog is having complications during labor?

In a planned breeding, we generally know the due date. If the dog has gone past her due date, there could be complications and it would be advisable to bring the dog in for a check-up. Signs to watch for include extended intervals between puppies or prolonged labor without any puppies appearing.

What is a whelping box?

A whelping box is a comfortable area that the female should be introduced to before she delivers her puppies. It should be large and roomy, with enough space for the mother to stand up and turn around, and it should have a clean, dry area for the puppies.

Does my dog need human help during labor?

Sometimes. Many dog labors progress naturally without much need for assistance. However, occasionally, a puppy might get stuck in the vaginal canal. In such cases, with just some gloves and some sterile lubricant, you can gently assist the puppy out.

How long does dog labor take?

The first part, stage one of dog labor, can take 12 to 24 hours. But once the cervix is open and we see vaginal discharge, we expect to see the first puppy within a couple of hours and each subsequent puppy within one hour of each other.

How do I know how many puppies my dog will give birth to?

An ultrasound exam done about a month after the breeding should give us a rough estimate of how many puppies there are to be delivered.

What do I need to do once my dog has given birth?

Once we have confirmed that she's delivered all of her puppies, it's important to make sure all the puppies are clean and dry, there's a warming source available for them to stay warm next to their mom, and they all have access to the mother's mammary glands so they can nurse. For the next several days, you'll need to take temperatures of these puppies twice a day, and record weights two to three times a day.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (949) 612-2756, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram