Care and Management of Pregnant Bitch

Pashu Sandesh, 22nd July 2018

Dr. Jitendra Tanwar, Dr. Akshay Kumar

Pregnancy is also termed as gestation period. This is very crucial time for all animals. The care and management must be appropriate and proper attention should be taken before and after the birth of new born puppies as well as the mother. Pregnant bitches need extra care and attention. Apart the regular physical examinations, some of necessary measures are focused on prevention of metabolic disturbances, treatment against parasites and infections control. Pregnancy is confirmed in bitch by using ultra-sonographic examination after 25 to 30 days after mating. After the conception, the animals need not only extra care from their owners, but also veterinary medical monitoring of the bitch and fetuses for timely diagnosis of illnesses.The normal pregnancy period is 63 days ± 2 days.

Feeding during pregnancy

Feeding of pregnant bitches is very important aspect of management. As the growing pups need extra nutrition for the development so proper balance diet should be offered to the bitches. The diet must be accomplished with balance of carbohydrates, proteins and essential minerals and fats. Due to lack of nutrition Poor body condition could entail metabolic disturbances during the pregnancy (gestational ketosis), impaired endocrine equilibrium, impaired placentation, uterine protein synthesis, increased neonatal death rates, eclampsia and insufficient milk production after the parturition. Once a bitch is pregnant, she should be fed a high-quality, well-balanced performance diet throughout gestation, even though the pregnant bitch's nutritional requirements increase only minimally during the first half of gestation. As a guideline, choose a highly digestible, very palatable commercial diet. It should contain at least 29 % protein and 17% fat. High amounts of soluble carbohydrates and low fibre content are important to ensure adequate energy intake and to avoid hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) in late pregnancy. Adequate intake of calcium (between 1 and 1.8 %) and phosphorous (between 0.8 and 1.6%) intake is important for adequate milk production by the bitch so that the pups' bones form properly.





27–34% (Avg. 29%)


18-20% (Avg. 19%)


1%- 1.8%



Omega-3 fatty acids (recommended daily dose of 1000 mg per 20 kg body weight) are of utmost importance for the development of fetal nervous system as well as for immune system stimulation and retinal function.The bitch's food intake should be gradually increased by a total of 15 to 25 % by the time of whelping to ensure adequate gain of body weight and increase of nutritional reserves. Because many females suffer from decreased appetite late in pregnancy due to abdominal distension, more frequent meals help maintain nutrient intake during this critical time. She should be fed at least twice daily. Indeed, many breeders will be feeding free choice by the time whelping approaches.

Precaution during Feeding

  • Unnecessary supplementation with high doses of calcium during late pregnancy could induce deviations and pathological states as dystocia, eclampsia, soft tissue calcification, gastric dilation/volvulus in newborn puppies.
  • Diets containing more than 40% carbohydrates on the account of proteins and fats are not suitable for pregnant animals.
  • The excess of fat-soluble vitamins (А or D) and some macrominerals and trace elements (calcium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, iron etc.) impairs the absorption of other vitamins or minerals.

Management of Pregnant bitch

  • The pregnant bitch should be shifted to a clean quite area of the house about one week prior to the whelping (giving birth) date.
  • Some bedding in the form of folded blankets and clean old newspapers should be provided after 40 days of pregnancy.
  • Strictly avoid jumping, fighting and exercise during the pregnancy.
  • Balanced nutrition is crucial for health of pregnant dog as well as proper foetal growth and development, therefore balanced diet should be provided as recommended by the veterinarian.
  • Hairs present around mammary gland (teats) and vulva should be trimmed and the area should whip with some mild antiseptic solutions daily, during last week of pregnancy.
  • Recording the rectal temperature twice daily during last week of pregnancy is advisable.
  • Usually rectal temperature falls abruptly to 97 to 980 f (normal is 101.5 to 102.5) before 24 hours of normal parturition.
  • Some animals experience reduced appetite, even vomiting between the 3rd and the 5th weeks after mating, that resolves spontaneously and do not require any treatment.

With the following ways the pet owner can taking care of the pregnant bitches for the any complication contact to a qualified veterinarian. A proper veterinary advice is must for successful management of feeding as well as care of bitch during and after the gestational period. If possible call a veterinarian prior to the birth of new born.

Dr. Jitendra Tanwar1, Dr. Akshay Kumar2

1.Department of veterinary medicine, ethics and jurisprudence, RAJUVAS, Bikaner, Rajasthan 2. Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, College of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry, DUVASU, Mathura - 281001, Uttar Pradesh, India

Corresponding author: Dr. Akshay Kumar