Is your dog or cat pregnant? While your pet possesses strong maternal instincts, you do have an important role in helping her and her babies. Don’t worry, you don’t need a degree in veterinary medicine All it takes is a lot of patience, a few precautions, and this simple guide that covers most of the questions that pet owners ask.
What to feed your pregnant pet
Your dog and cat will probably start ‘looking pregnant’ about three or four weeks after breeding. Basically, provide what you always have as a responsible pet owner: a comfortable and safe environment and lots of encouraging pats. Aside from that, you should also pay extra special care to your pet’s nutrition and exercise. A good quality commercial diet that’s complete and balanced is best. Ask your vet for recommendations. He may prescribe protein, vitamin and mineral supplements too.
Don’t overfeed your pet. A pregnant dog or cat only needs 15% to 20% more food than usual. Plus, that increase usually occurs in the last two or three weeks before delivery, when you should let your pet eat all she wants. (Ask your vet about this, too—your dog or cat may have special health conditions that require monitoring or dietary restrictions.)
However, pregnant pets do need to be fed smaller but more frequent meals, since the stomach is overcrowded by offspring. You may also want to be more vigilant about encouraging exercise. Some pets tend to get ‘lazy’ but fat pets with poor muscle tone are more likely to have delivery complications than lean and active animals.
Preparing a box for the litter
A few weeks before your pet’s litter is due prepare a litter box and help her get used to it. You can place her favorite toy or blanket there. However, remember to remove the bedding before delivery.
The litter box should be large enough for your pet to stretch out full length, plus plenty of room to spare. You can repurpose a large and sturdy cardboard box or build a simple wooden box. Cut an entrance on one side so it’s easy for her to get in and out, but leave a 5 inch barrier so the puppies and kittens don’t stray until they’re ready (usually when their eyes are open and can get around safely alone).
You can cut a piece of indoor or outdoor carpeting for bedding. Make an extra one so you can switch when it’s time to clean. It helps to put shredded newspapers on top of the carpet but take extra care that no pups can get hidden under the papers. Don’t use old blankets or towels since newborns can easily get entangled and suffocate.
Straw and sawdust are also dangerous because these can irritate the eyes and can be ingested by curious puppies and kittens.
Choosing a place for the litter box
Keep the box in a warm area that’s free of drafts, noise, and household traffic. Your pet will feel extra anxious and protective of her young and will hide the litter if she feels that they are under danger. You may also place the litter box in your pet’s usual ‘corner’ if it fits the above requirements.
Waiting for delivery day
As the big day approaches keep close watch over your pet to make sure that she doesn’t disappear. Cats, for example, often tend to look for a dark and secluded corner like in the attic or basement.
Cats tend to get very restless and will wander aimlessly around the house or scratch their beds. Dogs will lie on their sides for a long time and start ‘nesting’ by tearing up newspapers, sofa pillows, etc. Many pets lose their appetite. When labor begins animals will begin to pant, usually in time with the contractions.
Click here to find out more about how to help your pet through labor.
Photo from catlitterboxesonline.com