No doubt about it. Babies are cute, especially puppies. And doesn’t your heart just melt for those helpless, little balls of fur? But what about Momma? Do you know how to care for your dog after she gives birth?
Caring for Your Dog Before She Gives Birth
As her owner, it is your responsibility to take good care of your dog while she carries her litter. It’s up to you to make sure that she and her puppies are healthy and that the puppies will arrive safely.
- Feed your dog high-quality puppy food during the final trimester of her pregnancy. This puppy food should be high in protein and calcium. She should eat puppy food until her puppies are weaned.
- Schedule an appointment with the vet for a checkup.
- Provide your dog with a warm (about 85 degrees Fahrenheit), secluded, nesting area that is private and quiet.
- Make food and water available and easily accessible inside the nesting area.
Caring for Your Dog After She Gives Birth
More often than not, puppies are born in the middle of the night while you are sleeping. You want to be able to monitor your dog while she is in labor, so make it a habit to check on her every morning, especially as her due date approaches.
Immediately After She Gives Birth
Once every puppy has made their grand entry, your momma dog needs postpartum care. This is extremely important for her health and well-being.
- Remove and replace all soiled material from the whelping box with clean, soft bedding. Repeat as needed.
- Do not bathe your dog after she gives birth. But do gently clean her with a warm damp cloth. Wait a few weeks to give her a full-blown bath. Use a mild soap and rinse her thoroughly to prevent the puppies from coming into contact with any soap residue when they nurse.
Your dog will leak fluids and tissues for up to eight weeks after she gives birth. If a C-section was necessary, your momma dog will leak more post-whelping discharge than she would have as a natural-whelper. This discharge is called lochia and ranges in color, from greenish-black to brownish to brick red. It should be almost odorless. If it gets thick, grey or pale in color and starts to smell, she needs to be seen by your veterinarian right away. She may have an infected retained placenta or metritis, an infection in her uterus.
- She should rest quietly and sleep for several hours after she whelps, while the puppies are nursing or sleeping. When she wakes up, she should be bright-eyed, alert, and responsive to her litter of puppies.
In the Days and Weeks After She Gives Birth
In the days and weeks following the arrival of her litter, watch for the following signs and do these things for your momma dog:
- If your dog has long fur, give her a sanitary cut. Cut the long hair around her tail and hind legs and her mammary glands. Your groomer or veterinarian can do this for you if you prefer. Then, keep these areas clean.
- Monitor her around the clock for the next seven days.
- Feed her several small meals throughout each day instead of one large one. She should resume eating and drinking soon after she wakes up from her rest post-whelping. And the amount of food and water she consumes should be significantly larger than before she gave birth, up to four times her intake before she became pregnant. The size of her litter will determine the amount of food and water she will need.
- Check her teats daily. You need to watch for signs of heat, redness, swelling, inflammation, discoloration, or pain. Her milk should be white and of normal consistency. It should not be thickening or turning pink, red, green or yellow. If your momma dog shows any of these symptoms, she needs emergency veterinary attention. Mastitis is a bacterial infection of the mammary glands that develops quickly and can become serious just as fast, even to the point of death. If her teats become plugged because she is making more milk than her puppies need, she has developed galactostasis. And this can turn into mastitis.
- Watch for signs of eclampsia or milk fever. These signs include restlessness, anxiety, panting, muscle tremors, elevated temperature, whining, and dilated pupils, to name a few. This condition can occur within the first 4 weeks after the puppies are born. If left untreated, it can cause limb rigidity, convulsions, collapse, and even death. Seek your veterinarian’s help immediately if you suspect eclampsia. Thankfully, this condition is reversible. But it must be caught early.
- Take your dog's temperature daily for a few weeks. A dog's normal temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Be aware that your dog after she gives birth will run a temperature a degree or two higher than normal for a few days. But if she spikes a temperature, stops eating, or seems lethargic, call your vet.
- Schedule your dog and her new family for checkups with your veterinarian within 24 hours of delivery. You want to make sure your dog is healing properly and that her puppies are growing.
- Keep other dogs and people away from her and her puppies. Protective aggression is normal because she is protecting her puppies.
- Take her out for short five to ten-minute bathroom breaks.
The Spectra Therapy CANINE Wearable LASERwrap® can Help!
You want your dog after she gives birth to be comfortable and back to normal as soon as possible. And the Spectra Therapy CANINE Wearable LASERwrap® promotes the healing process. It is a natural, holistic option designed to speed pain relief and recovery efforts and can take two to three weeks off the post-whelping recovery time. How does it do this?
- It improves circulation
- Improves natural healing abilities
- Provides nutrients and oxygen to improve healing on a cellular level
- Helps repair fibrous tissues by improving ATP (low blood platelet levels)
- Allows a thorough and faster healing process
In the next few weeks, life for your dog after she gives birth is significantly different than it was before she delivered. From the moment her puppies are born, she takes care of them, and they depend on her for survival. While you may need to step in on occasion to help out, she is generally able to care for her puppies on her own. As her owner though, knowing what to expect can prevent a dangerous situation from happening in the weeks ahead.
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