Owning a Labrador Retriever can be a wonderful experience, especially if you have the opportunity to see your Labrador give birth to a litter of puppies! However, caring for a pregnant Labrador involves a lot of hard work, attention, and responsibility. It’s very important to thoroughly research the proper way to care for your pregnant Labrador Retriever. Good prenatal care will have dramatic positive effects on the health and development of her puppies.
If you suspect that your female Labrador Retriever may be pregnant, there will be several key behavioral traits that you can look for. The first of these is an initially decreased appetite. Just like humans, female dogs are prone to what is commonly called “morning sickness”. Your dog may loose some enthusiasm for food, and not be as excited at mealtimes. The amount she eats may also decrease, and there will be more food left at the end of feeding time. This is normal behavior, though it is usually a good sign to begin giving your dog a recommended dose of prenatal vitamins.
Another good way to tell if your dog is pregnant is fairly obvious: swelling of the belly or abdomen. Many pet owners first mistake this swelling as their dog beginning to be overweight, especially if they believe their dog to have been spayed. Though the spaying operation has a very high success rate, it is still possible for your dog to become pregnant after being spayed. This misconception can cause some pet owners to lower the feeding ratio for their dog, or switch to a “weight loss” dog food. This can be very harmful for a pregnant dog! If your dog is beginning to put on weight around the tummy, it is strongly recommended to take her to your veterinarian for an ultrasound and blood test. This is the best way to be certain if your dog is pregnant.
Just like humans, pregnant female Labrador Retrievers can engage in behavior that is commonly known as “nesting”. This behavior is usually present in the middle of your dog’s pregnancy term, and there should also be visible swelling of the abdomen at this time. Your dog will constantly paw at her bedding, and may seem restless. She may whine or constantly shift her weight, taking significant time to rearrange her bedding space. This behavior is an instinctual trait that portrays the female dog preparing for her litter, and attempting to make her bedding as comfortable as possible.
Once you have determined from your veterinarian that your dog is pregnant, there are many steps that you should take to provide ideal prenatal care for your Labrador. The first of these, which should be started immediately, is to begin giving your dog a prenatal vitamin supplement. Prenatal vitamins for dogs can be acquired from your vet, or purchased at many pet supply stores. Try to buy the highest-quality prenatal vitamin that you can comfortably afford, since this will be a prime source of nutrients for your dog’s developing puppies.
Your next concern should be a modified feeding routine for your Labrador. Your pregnant Labrador Retriever may eat 2-3 times of her regular food ration! This is normal, and you should increase her feeding frequency to 2-3 times per day, keeping an adequate food ratio. If you are not already feeding your pregnant dog a premium-grade pet food, it is strongly advised to switch immediately. Though more expensive, a better quality dog food will provide many important benefits for you pregnant Labrador, and promote proper development of her litter. You may want to try a grain-free premium pet food, since this will be easier on your dog’s digestive system.
Try to make your dog as comfortable as possible. Give her extra bedding, especially when she starts “nesting”. However, try to maintain a light exercise routine for your dog, so that she maintains good muscle tone, and has a reduced “recovery period” after giving birth.
Above all, give your Labrador Retriever a lot of attention and comfort, since will appreciate your emotional support. Be sure to schedule regular visits to your veterinarian, to ensure that the puppies are developing properly, and that there are no outstanding health concerns. Once your Labrador Retriever is nearing the end of her pregnancy (from 55-65 days), prepare yourself for the birth. Lots of clean towels are advised, as this can be a messy process. If you are unsure about your ability to assist in your Labrador Retriever’s birthing procedure, don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian for assistance.