Canine Pregnancy Care

How to Take Care of Your Pregnant Dog

During a canine pregnancy, there are a few special needs to be aware of while caring for your dog.

These needs basically revolve around her diet, exercise, and vaccinations.

Many people make the mistake of changing their dog’s diet due to pregnancy. 

One of our Goldens a few days before delivering pups!

The problem with this is that they can inadvertently be causing her some serious health issues.

Do not start giving extra vitamins, calcium, or feeding puppy food while she is pregnant.

Extra calcium given during a canine pregnancy can actually cause eclampsia.

This is an extremely dangerous and life threatening situation for a canine, that can occur within hours, and sometimes even within minutes, depending upon the severity.

Canine eclampsia is commonly referred to as milk fever and immediate vet care is needed to save the mother’s life.

During her pregnancy, keep her on a good quality regular adult dog food. 

Do not feed her any type of puppy food. Continue feeding the normal dog food that she has been eating, only more of it.

©Photo Courtesy of Venusnep Photography

I always allow my female to eat as much as she wants during her pregnancy, as long as it is her normal dog food.  However, I do not give any table scraps or treats during this time.

I leave her food dish out at all times, so she can nibble on it as she wants. 

Since she can not hold very much food in her stomach, especially later in her pregnancy, by feeding her this way she gets to eat all she is comfortable with.   

If your Golden Retriever has a tendency to normally overeat, then you may need to take a different approach.  In a case of a food hound, give her the normal amount of food that she usually eats until she is about 5 weeks along.

Then the amount you feed to her should be increased 30 to 50% more than normal.

©Photo Courtesy of Steve O‘Byrne

Do not give any vaccinations or wormers to a pregnant canine.

However, Frontline Plus and Heartgard are perfectly safe to give to her.  Frontline Plus is a topical flea treatment ointment, and Heartgard is a heartworm preventative and they are safe for pregnant dogs. 

There may be other heartworm preventatives that are also safe for pregnant dogs, but please check with your vet before giving them.  I know that Heartgard is safe as this is what I give my own Golden Retrievers.

If your dog needs her yearly booster vaccine and the timing of the canine vaccine is due during her gestation period, wait until after she delivers her pups.  It is safe to give canine vaccines while she is nursing.

©Photo Courtesy of Lori Ostroski

I always allow my Golden Retriever to play or exercise as she sees fit, but I do not take her for long walks or runs. 

A game of fetch, with the ball not being thrown a long distance, helps keep her in shape without over working her.  

Since I have several Goldens, they exercise quite a bit just from chasing and wrestling with each other.  But I stop this type of play between them during the last 2 to 3 weeks of a canine pregnancy.

The last 2 weeks are extremely important in her care.  If she is bumped into, this can cause one or more pups to die.

This is due to a pup being knocked off the wall which means that a still developing pup accidentally got jiggled loose from the canine uterine wall.

I lost a pup from each litter in 3 different pregnancies from this, before I realized what was causing it.

In the mornings, my dogs would always gang up at the door waiting to go outside.  In the process, my female was getting her belly bumped into. 

©Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Marsh

It wasn’t a hard bump, but it was enough for a pup to be born stillborn, and it was very easy to see that the pup was a few days behind in its development as opposed to the live pups.

Once we started isolating the pregnant mom for the last 2-3 weeks, we never had this problem again and never again had any stillborn pups.

By following these simple guidelines during a canine pregnancy, you are giving your Golden the best opportunity of delivering beautiful, healthy puppies.

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Golden Retriever wearing a cowboy hat

Golden Retriever puppies peeking out of a basket

senior Golden Retriever smiling