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Theriogenology. 2008 Dec;70(9):1412-7. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2008.09.009. Epub 2008 Oct 1.

Pregnancy management in the bitch.

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Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, E. Lansing, MI 48824-1314, USA.


Pregnancy management to optimize maternal and neonatal health begins with breeding management and the selection of normal, healthy brood stock in ideal body condition. After breeding, a commercial diet appropriate for reproduction and lactation should be fed. Typically these contain 29-32% protein of animal source, at least 18% fat, 20-30% carbohydrate, and essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Pregnancy is confirmed approximately 25 d after breeding. A "maternity ward" and whelping box should be provided. Steady increases in caloric intake and body weight are expected as pregnancy progresses. Weight loss should not occur. Throughout pregnancy, changes in the bitch's attitude, activity, appetite, body weight, and physical findings should be monitored by the owner. If appetite and body weight do not continue to increase, or if any signs of illness develop, maternal health should be assessed with a complete physical examination and a CBC, biochemical profile, and free-catch urinalysis. Fetal health should be assessed with ultrasonography. Maternal or fetal abnormalities will put the pregnancy at risk. Impending parturition and the progress of labor and delivery can be monitored by assessing rectal temperature, serum concentrations of progesterone, and/or uterine and fetal monitors. This article reviews the physiology of canine pregnancy and parturition, and typical schemes used to manage normal canine pregnancy to optimize maternal and puppy health.

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