From 5-6 weeks post mating, nipples are generally enlarging and early signs of mammary gland development are occurring at the base of them. Greater development occurs in the last 2 weeks and it is not unusual to have milk present a day or two before whelping.
The last third of pregnancy 7-9 weeks it is advisable to feed 2-3 smaller meals daily and to increase her total daily food intake by up to one-third. We recommend Hills Science Diet Puppy Growth formula especially for pregnant and lactating bitches, this gives her the extra calcium and protein that she needs. Supplements are not necessary.
During pregnancy make sure the bitch is exercised on a regular basis, reducing the level only when she is heavily pregnant. It is most important that the bitch is NOT overweight for whelping, as she would be far more likely to have problems if she were.
For the last week of pregnancy it is advisable to sleep your bitch in the area you intend her to have and rear her pups.
It is preferable to have a proper whelping box prepared with high sides, a low front, rails around three sides, which allow pups to get underneath and protect them from the bitch lying upon them.
Several layers of newspaper provide ideal bedding and can be replaced frequently.
The whelping area should be in a quiet more secluded area to minimise interruptions to the nursing mother.
© Forrest Hill Vets (2000) Ltd