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What to expect when you're expecting Puppies! - Part 2 - Pregnancy

So the mating is done and you're watching your girl like a hawk for signs of pregnancy. My advice at this stage: stop worrying! Dogs are pretty fertile so if she has been "covered" several times over her fertile period, there's a good chance she's carrying tiny pups.

Scans

We booked an ultrasound scan with our vet, 28 days after her first mating. Lo and behold, we saw tiny flickering heartbeats and Maisie's pregnancy was confirmed. And since most dogs' (there are some exceptions according to breed) gestation period is 63 days - give or take a day or two - she was nearly halfway through her pregnancy before we knew she was pregnant for sure. And just over a month then to prepare the house / ourselves / our lives for the chaos, beauty, joy and sorrow (more of that later) about to hit us in the form of six wriggly little creatures.

For us, the ultrasound was peace of mind. And at £40 is was well worth it, though many breeders assume the mating has been successful and treat their bitch accordingly. Bitches tend not to 'show' until the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, and this is the only other way you can tell that the mating has been successful. We didn't want to be rushed into preparing for puppies at the last minute and nor did we fancy putting in a lot of hard work if there were no pups on board, so that's why we got a scan. It's also a good idea if your breed tends to have large litters, as scans can't necessarily tell you how many are on board, but they can give you an idea of the number.

Exercise

We walked Maisie as much as normal until she started to balloon outwards, and then we took it a little easier. Maisy Love Tree Climbing!This girl loves to climb trees and jump on everything, and as long as she showed an interest in continuing to do all these things, we let her. What we stopped doing was taking her out beating. These are long, intense days of haring around woodland and getting extremely excited - it's the only thing that seems to tire her out. After one day out beating early in her pregnancy, we could see she was slightly more pooped than normal, so we didn't take her again. I was told by a veterinary nurse friend that pregnant bitches shouldn't swim as the vulva is more open and susceptible to infections at this stage, so we kept her away from her beloved streams and rivers during this time as well.

Food

Food-wise, your vet will advise as to how and when to step up meal sizes and frequencies. She will be eating LOADS by the time she whelps, so be warned! Some will advise that you gently switch her over to puppy food before she whelps, as she'll be taking on the nutrients that the puppies will benefit from later. We didn't do this, but this was a lack of organisation rather than choice!

The really exciting bit in your dog's pregnancy is when the puppies start wriggling around and you can see (and feel) little bumps appearing and rippling under her tummy. We had a lovely two weeks of this - and trying to feel how many were in there - before she started nesting...

What To Expect When You're Expecting... Puppies!

This series of blogs won't replace a professional guide by any means, but intends to cover all the bits and bobs I wished I had known from the start, plus things I worked out along the way that were well worth knowing.

Disclaimer bit: I am not a vet and all advice given here is purely based on my personal experience. I can thoroughly recommend The Book of The Bitch as a professional guide for all stages of the process. 

If you haven't already, you can read the previous installment Part 1 - Mating Season or the next one Part 3 - Preparing for Whelping.

 

Alice West

Alice West lives in Buckinghamshire and is the proud owner of two gorgeous black Working Cocker Spaniels called Maisie and Dotty, and a one-year-old human called Matilda. Dotty came from Maisie's first litter of puppies - all girls - born in December 2013.

Running a copywriting business from home means Alice can enjoy lovely dog walks on her lunch break, and is distracted frequently by Spaniels chewing her shoes, begging for food and fighting over toys. She works Maisie and Dotty on a very sympathetic local shoot in the winter months. 

View Alice's Google Plus profile here

Alice West

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