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Pregnancy and birth in the dog and cat

The duration of pregnancy in the dog and cat is on average 60 days, but the difficulty of accurately determining the time of ovulation, multiple inseminations and the variable duration of estrus make it difficult to determine the date of birth. The traditional 63-65 days from first fertilization is not the perfect formula. An interval of 56 to 70 days from the first meeting with the male is more accurate. A pregnancy with multiple fetuses usually lasts shorter (56-57 days), and a pregnancy with one or two fetuses lasts longer (58-60 days).

How is pregnancy diagnosed? Palpation* of the abdomen between the 20th and 30th day after the first insemination is an easy and affordable method. However, it is not always successful if the dog or cat is nervous or overweight. Ultrasound examination is easiest and most accurate between 21-35 days after conception. X-ray is also a good diagnostic method. It is performed around the 40th day of pregnancy, when the elements of the skeleton are already formed. It is not harmful to the fetus and the uterus. It is also usually used to determine the number of fruits and their size.

How to take care of a pregnant bitch or cat? It is desirable that the animal be vaccinated and dewormed even before insemination. Vaccination during pregnancy is generally not recommended. Treatment for internal parasites is also important. It is also good to be done before fertilization, because if the mother has worms, their larvae pass through the placentas into the fruit and the puppies are born with worms. The young become infected with the larvae of the worms when they suckle from the infested mother. Antiparasitic preparations can be used during pregnancy and your vet will determine which ones. If a fecal sample* shows that the pregnant female has intestinal parasites, preparations that have a larvocidal effect must be used, precisely to protect the fruit from infection. In all cases, after birth, it is good to examine feces and treat the young in a timely manner.

Deworming for external parasites is also important and can be continued during pregnancy with appropriate means. Organophosphorus and carbamate compounds should be avoided.

If the bitch (cat) needs to be treated for any disease during pregnancy, the veterinarian will consider which preparations he can use, but you must inform him of the possibility that your animal is pregnant.

Nutrition during pregnancy. The diet of the female in the first 4 weeks after fertilization does not need to be changed - quality pellet food in an amount corresponding to the breed and activity is completely sufficient. The increase in amount starts in the 5th - 6th week - initially 20-25% to reach 50% in the 8th - 9th week and the first week after birth. After the first 4 weeks, feed specially formulated for pregnant and lactating bitches is given. It has an increased content of proteins, energy and minerals. If you use ready-made granulated or canned food for pregnant animals, it is not necessary to add vitamins and minerals. Most owners have a strong desire to give calcium preparations and vitamin D, but they are not always necessary and can even be harmful. In the second half of pregnancy and during lactation the need for minerals is indeed increased, but they are covered by the increased amount of food (especially when it is of good quality). Excess calcium, especially at the end of pregnancy, leads to a predisposition of the young to swelling and stomach turning, interferes with the absorption of zinc, manganese and other essential minerals and can predispose the female to a difficult birth. Calcium preparations can only be given on the advice of the veterinarian to bitches with a history of eclampsia and if the female is fed home-cooked food.

During the last weeks of pregnancy, you may feed the female more often and with smaller portions, as the capacity of the stomach is reduced due to the pressure of the pregnant uterus. In no case do not allow overeating and obesity - this usually makes childbirth difficult.

After birth, the second and third weeks of lactation are associated with the greatest stress for the female. The requirements for the caloric content of food are double compared to the period before pregnancy. During the 4th week of lactation, the amount and caloric content of food is reduced. It is very important to allow the lactating female to feed in peace without being disturbed by the young. Nyaoi females lose a lot of weight while caring for a large number of young, as they rarely have the opportunity to feed in peace.

Activity during pregnancy. Daily walks are a must. Dogs used to running with their owners can continue to do so during the first 4-6 weeks of pregnancy. The owner must be careful not to overwork the animal, especially in late pregnancy.

Birth. 7 to 14 days before the expected date, prepare a birthing area so that the female can get used to it. Let it be a place she loves, but relatively isolated and calm. Special plastic “birthing wards“ are sold, but you can also make one yourself. The condition is that it can be cleaned (if necessary and disinfected) easily, that it has an internal safety border (the female cannot press tightly against the wall and crush any of the little ones), that it is so high that the young cannot get out , but the mother can go out and eat in peace. Cover the area with towels. The room temperature should be 23-24 °C. The owner should prepare small towels for wiping the newborns, clean scissors, thick cotton or silk thread, iodine tincture or iodacept, a thermometer for the bitch (cat). By measuring the rectal temperature, the onset of labor can be determined - it drops to 37.2-37.7 °C 10 to 24 hours before birth (normal temperature is 38-39 °C).

Most often labor begins at night and most often passes without problems. Keep the animal calm! A worried, scared or nervous female can interrupt an already started labor process!

What are the alarming symptoms during childbirth? Usually 10-30 minutes pass between the births of individual puppies (kittens). Active straining for more than 30 minutes without delivery is a concern and a veterinarian should be consulted. The interval between individual puppies (kittens) is different - it is not unusual for a bitch or a cat to give birth to several puppies, then rest for a while (without stress) before continuing the birthing process. In this case, a break greater than 4 to 8 hours is alarming.

The dog may want to eat the placentas. You can allow her to do so because they contain hormonal substances that support labor and contraction of the uterus afterwards. If the female does not actively lick the newborn 1 to 3 minutes after birth, the owner may intervene. The placenta and all membranes from the amniotic sac are separated using a clean, dry towel. Be careful, everything is very slippery from the amniotic fluid! Then the puppy is actively rubbed and dried with a towel. The mouth and nose are sucked with a rubber aspirator. Usually the mother bites the umbilical cord, but if she has not, the owner should tie it tightly about 1-1.5 cm from the puppy with ordinary thick thread and cut it with clean scissors. The end is flushed with iodasept. In the fastest way, the cubs are given to the mother and prolonged holding in her hands is avoided. Some females breastfeed the cubs while giving birth to the next ones, others breastfeed after the end of the birthing process.

It is normal for a female to have no appetite soon after giving birth. Also ensure constant access to water and food and maximum peace of mind.

Birth is a normal, instinctive process. Often times, if the owners are too nervous and worried, this feeling of anxiety covers the animal as well and interferes with the normal progress of the birth. If the female decides to move, hide, or does not like the place you have chosen, do not interfere, but discreetly observe her.

Glossary: Ovulation - the moment when the egg is ready for fertilization Palpation - method of examination with hands Fecal sample - examination of feces under a microscope Eclampsia- convulsions caused by hypocalcemia Estrus - period of dispersal Lactation - milk release

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