Pregnancy in Dogs and Cats
1. 61-65 days is the gestation period- average 63 days—which is the amount of time for dogs and cats to have their litter. This means that about 63 days after a dog or cat is impregnated it will have its litter. Small dogs should always be bred with a male dog that is smaller than the female. This will make it easier for the female to have her puppies, as hopefully the puppies will be born small and will easily come out.
2. The female dog should always be current on vaccinations prior to becoming pregnant, especially distemper, parvo, and corona viruses, so that she can pass on high immunity to the puppies. The puppies then will not get sick since they have protection from these diseases, but they still must be started on their vaccinations at 6 to 8 weeks of age because the mother’s protection will be wearing off and the puppy or kitten can begin making its own protection with the vaccinations.
3. The female dog must be well fed while pregnant and nursing, meaning she should be on a name brand puppy food and she should be fed canned food 2-3 times daily all she can eat, and leave dry food out all the time. You can feed table food like hamburger, chicken, eggs, bread, potatoes and pasta, but no bones.
4. Put your female dog on pregnancy vitamins, which include calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. These three ingredients interact to allow the mother to absorb additional calcium, which she is losing in great quantities due to milk production and she also needs the calcium for uterine contraction at birth. Small dogs are very prone to low calcium blood levels after birth and can die. They go into intense seizures where they cannot breathe and suffocate to death. They can be treated with intravenous calcium, but it is an emergency situation and it usually occurs in the middle of the night. Puppies cannot nurse on the mother after this situation occurs.
5. At 5 to 7 weeks of age the puppies/kitties can be weaned off the mother. Puppies and kittens can be started on solid food at 3 weeks of age and be completely on solid food at 5 to 6 weeks of age. You can take canned food and mix it with warm water in a flat plate and let the puppies eat the food as best they can. It is messy. Feed them 4 to 6 times per day and keep them inside. For fleas use Advantage on the mother and a water-based flea spray on the puppies. Puppies can be dewormed as early as 3 weeks of age, then usually once a week for three weeks.
6. Female dogs and cats can be spayed about 2 weeks after the babies are weaned, and the females dogs go into heat twice a year for about 3 weeks at a time, while cats go into heat every month or two throughout the spring and summer. Dogs and cats can be spayed as early as 6 months of age to prevent pregnancy and heat cycles. It is not necessary for your pet to have a litter before spaying.
7. Puppies and kittens are started on their vaccinations at 6-8 weeks of age, and continue yearly for life, and heartworm prevention is given once monthly. For best flea control use Advantage or Front Line Top Spot, both are topical, fast acting flea medications.