What to expect when pets are expecting

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Many people see their pet as their own child, but what do you do when you find that your little one will soon be having children of their own?
Knowing how to care for your pet during pregnancy and after childbirth is essential for any responsible pet owner.
So how do you tell if your pet is expecting? “Some telltale signs to watch for in a pregnant dog is lethargy, not wanting to eat as much, not playing as much as usual and enlarged nipples,” said Jean Laird, veterinary technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “These are attributed to a change in hormones and milk production.
If you believe your pet is pregnant, the first thing you should do is take her in to see a veterinarian. Certain conditions exist that may appear to be pregnancy, but in reality are alarming and may even be life threatening.
“One condition that can be deadly is called pyometra,” said Laird. “It is a bacterial infection that occurs during their heat cycle and results in the uterus filling with pus. This is a serious condition that requires immediate surgery and hospitalization. Symptoms include fever, lethargy and vaginal discharge that is commonly confused with standard pregnancy discharge.”
When preparing your home for a pregnant pet, there are several conditions that must be met to guarantee that your pet is safe and comfortable throughout their pregnancy.
After your pet has given birth it is important that both the mother and puppies be examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will be able to ensure the physical condition of the mother and her puppies, as well as make recommendations to provide the best care.
“After your pet has given birth, carefully observe her to see if she is gentle with the puppies and allows them to nurse,” said Laird. “If she lays on them, tries to injure them, or does not allow them to nurse, you will have to bottle feed the puppies. Cow’s milk, as this is not adequate nutrition for the growth and development of a puppy.”