A guest post from Dr. Coleman.
From time to time I receive unsolicited emails asking if I would be interested in publishing posts from this or that particular person. They always strike me as suspicious and receive, in turn, a polite ‘no thank you’.
However, a few weeks ago, the following came in:
My name is Intan and I am a community team member at ShihTzu Web, a website dedicated to providing breed-specific information just for shih tzu owners. We share articles regularly about shih tzu grooming, training, and health.
We would love to help provide some free high-quality content for the shih tzu owners in your audience with a guest blog post. We have two specialist writers for our blog: veterinarian Jill Coleman, who writes about shih tzu health topics, and Sally Gutteridge, who writes about shih tzu grooming and training.
That website ShihTzu Web clearly sets out a part commercial proposition but after thinking about the offer, I decided to accept the guest post.
So here is that guest post, authored by Dr. Jill Coleman*:
What to Do If Your Dog Is Pregnant
First things first: were you planning on your dog getting pregnant? There are many convincing arguments that until the pet overpopulation problem is under control, there should be no planned canine pregnancies. This article is not going get into that debate (although the last sentence pretty much wraps up my opinion).
Let’s first assume you did NOT mean for your dog to get pregnant. Oops! You will hear about “morning after” shots and pills. None of these are recommended because they all seem to have side effects that are far worse than having a litter of puppies. We’re talking life threatening uterine infections and bone marrow suppression– nasty stuff, so this definitely does not keep your dog healthy. An option if you are planning on spaying your dog anyway, is to have her spayed. Waiting until she is out of heat is a good idea because the surgery is considered safer when they aren’t in heat because they lose less blood.
Now we’ll assume that you either did plan on your dog getting pregnant and/or you just need advice for a pregnant dog: what should you do? Not a lot, really. Dogs have been successfully reproducing with no human intervention for many years. A good quality diet is important. For the first half of their pregnancy a normal adult, high quality diet is fine. Switch to puppy food (sometimes referred to as “growth”) for the second half of the pregnancy and the entire time she is nursing the puppies. Do NOT supplement with any vitamins. Studies have shown that not only is this unnecessary, it is detrimental. Supplementing with calcium for example can make the bitch produce less of her own and thus interfere with her normal milk production.
Dogs are pregnant for approximately 63 days. At about day 55, it’s a good idea to start taking their temperature twice a day. Rectal thermometers are more accurate, but I have never met a dog that enjoys this process. There are many non-rectal thermometers available now that work perfectly for this because even if they read a little low, what you look for is a drop from their normal temperature. So go ahead and get one and establish what “normal” is for your dog well before she is due to whelp. Dog’s temperatures drop about 2 full degrees approximately 24 hours before they give birth. This is a fantastic way to tell when they are about to give birth. A dog’s normal resting rectal temperature is 101.5*F +/- about 1*.
Go ahead and prepare a whelping box that is comfortable and tucked away in a safe, preferably familiar area to the bitch. It is important for it to be quiet to allow her to relax. The less people running around and stressing out the better. You can actually cause your bitch to go out of labor by freaking her out.
As far as exercise, she doesn’t have to be a couch potato but avoid strenuous exercise especially late in her pregnancy. Walks are fine, but be sure she doesn’t overheat. Be careful approaching other dogs, even if she has been fine with them in the past. Most dog’s personalities don’t really change significantly but some will become more aggressive during their pregnancy. (Almost all will become protective of the puppies once they are born.)
Check your flea and tick medications to be sure they are safe. You will probably have to check with your veterinarian because most flea and tick medications are not labeled for use on pregnant or lactating females because they simply didn’t conduct studies on pregnant bitches. Your veterinarian should know which ones are safe if you are having flea and tick issues.
Last but not least and possibly most important is to go ahead and put emergency numbers where you can easily find them. You don’t want to be trying to find the emergency clinics number in the middle of the night if your furry child is having problems.
*Dr. Jill Coleman, DVM, is a small animal veterinarian with 20 years of clinical experience. She graduated from Furman University with a BA in English in 1991. She graduated with honors from The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1995. She loves small dogs like Shih Tzu and loves writing about them. She shares her experience about Shih Tzu at ShihTzu Web.
I will leave you with this delightful photograph …
… and the following few words from me.
Namely, that I have had no dealings with Shih Tzu Web or the organisation and people behind the website. Please don’t assume that the posting of this guest post offers any endorsement, or otherwise, of Shih Tzu Web. Any relevant feedback would be most welcome.