HOW TO CARE FOR PREGNANT STRAYS
It is essential to handle a canine pregnancy with as much precaution and planning as one would do when it comes to a human pregnancy. If you are someone who has been looking after a stray who is set to deliver her litter of pups anytime soon, she would require a handful of care and attention. There are several ways to prepare for her labor and delivery or what may also be termed as ‘whelping’ in medical terms. As you gear up for her delivery day, take some time to learn and gear yourself for the day.
HOW TO FIND OUT IF YOUR STRAY IS PREGNANT?
Watch out for signs of bodily changes: One of the most prompt and initial hints of a dog being pregnant tends to be true if she “pinks up.” This refers to a change in her nipples which makes them look rosier than normal, slightly swollen and much more prominent. This initial stage mostly develops post 2-3 weeks of fertilization.
A pregnant dog’s body appearance doesn't change until the second half of her pregnancy. Once she completes a 4-5 week cycle in her pregnancy, her belly begins to thicken and her tummy eventually fills out. It is only in the third and final week of the 6-9 months pregnancy, when the female canine’s stomach becomes rounded and expanded. Her mammary glands start to develop and become more obviously dilated, as they get ready to produce milk.
Observing behavioural changes: Do not anticipate severe changes. It is important to understand that just as human mothers, all dogs act individually to their experience of pregnancy. While some tend to be silent and more tired early on, one must note that a symptom like this can occur even when a dog is simply unwell. Thus, it makes this sign an untrustworthy predictor of pregnancy. As per scientifically proven research and surveys, an average number of pregnant female dogs behave almost the same as usual until the very last third phase of incubation.
In the final third of the pregnancy, the female dog’s visible increase in size makes it evidently more strenuous for her to move around, and she may want to sleep more often along with prominent changes in her hunger cycle. At the end of the pregnancy, the dog’s belly grows evidently, further occupying more space in her womb.As she finds herself unable to lodge larger meals, she'll naturally start wanting to munch, eating a little at a time more often than usual.
Discovering Early Signs of Pregnancy: While a female dog may not display any symptoms of pregnancy in the first two-three weeks, pregnant dogs do usually suffer from morning sickness like humans, roughly after completing a period of twenty-one days and it generally lasts one-two weeks. Once your pet completes twenty one days, please ensure that you take a look at her gums. Her gums would be white instead of the usual pink and this is only because the foetus is now attached to her uterus and the blood in her body is collecting there. While it is not usually a cause of worry, but, if you notice the whiteness persisting for a longer period, please contact a vet as soon as you can.
While discovering signs of pregnancy, it is important to notice a shift of moods in your female dog. A lot of times, people see their dog being quieter than usual as a sign of pregnancy. However, this is more of an unreliable observation than a proven fact. Pregnancy gives rise to changing hormone levels and this influences each dog differently.
While some dogs may become silent than usual, others may become more loving and goofy while others are likely to withdraw and would want to be left alone. You must also watch out for other signs of sickness. Although a change in a dog’s apparent mood or behaviour can indicate pregnancy, this is a fuzzy sign that could also denote that she is sick. Therefore, you should monitor her closely for any symptoms of ill health such as loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, sneezing, or vaginal discharge.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR STRAY IS PREGNANT?
While everyone might not have the budget to take stray dogs to veterinary clinics, it is extremely recommended to bring your canine friend to the vet for a thorough check-up. Strays often tend to catch diseases and have trouble due to their previous living conditions. Even if you are unable to take her to a vet by yourself, make sure that you connect with a relevant welfare organisation or a paravet as soon as you can.
HOW CAN YOU HELP HER?
If there is a pregnant street dog around you, make sure she gets food every day. Street dogs will naturally wish to find the safest place to deliver their pups. In case she refuses first, it is possible that she might need some human support and encouragement. As a feeder stated, “It happened in my stray female dog’s case. At the point when she went into labour, I was unable to find any veterinary assistance as a result of the ongoing pandemic. However, I arranged for hay and built her a temporary space in the vacant plot near my house. I further covered her hay house with a covering to protect her and her puppies from the winter rain along with the cold and fog.”
Once the female stray has delivered her puppies, ensure that she is in a safe place. Provide her with sufficient food as her health and well being would now also be essential for the health of her newborn puppies. In multiple incidents, it was found that the female dog as a result of lack of adequate food and prolonged starvation, would end up eating her own litter.
SOME ADDITIONAL PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE
While preparing a diet for a female dog while she is pregnant and even post delivery, there are few precautions that you must keep in mind.
1)As she is pregnant, she will need more energy, calories, protein and other nutrients. You can include leftovers of food items such as rice, chapati, soybean, boiled vegetables (even mashed and grated vegetables but make sure that it is not too hot) for her.
2) Do not serve stale, dry or hard food to her as it may end up making her sick which will further pose as a risk to the wellbeing of her unborn puppies·
3)You can also include meat and eggs in her diet. However, make sure that there is no bone in the meat that you serve to her as it might end up getting stuck in her throat.
4)You can also provide her milk, biscuits, bread and other edible food in case you wish to. However, before feeding her any milk products, ensure that she is not lactose intolerant as it can cause her allergies or any other life threatening ailments.
5)Please avoid giving her any sweets or other deep fried products as they can be harmful for her.
Lastly, it is important to understand that a pregnancy is an equally life changing and at times, an emotionally distressing journey for the female dog. In a time like this, it is essential to provide her with a caring and safe environment. If you happen to notice any unusual signs, at any point of her pregnancy, immediately take the female dog to the nearest vet.
After the female dog delivers her puppies, you should take both her and her pups to the veterinarian for a post-natal checkup within 24-48 hours. This can also be a good time to discuss having her spayed in order to prevent any more unexpected litters.