Can You Exercise a Pregnant Dog?
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When caring for a pregnant dog, there are many factors to take into account. We want to do everything we can to ensure the health and well-being of both mother and puppies, so we need to look at all of their needs. This means providing them with the right diet, ensuring their environment is stress-free and being ready when the dog enters labor. However, we also know that exercise is essential for their physical well-being. This begs the question, can you exercise a pregnant dog?
AnimalWised looks into the factors you need to consider when wanting to exercise a pregnant dog. We also look into how this affects other areas of their care, such as diet.
A dog's pregnancy
Before we start, we should emphasize that AnimalWised does not encourage pregnancy in dogs for the most part. The reason is that animal shelters are already overrun with dogs which need homes desperately. Millions are abandoned and neglected every year, in large part due to irresponsible guardianship. Spaying and neutering your pet not only benefits the individual animal due to improved health and well-being, but it helps the canine community at large.
In saying that, once a dog is pregnant, it is our responsibility to ensure we do everything we can for them to be healthy. Abandoning them at this stage would be even worse.
The first thing we need to do is be sure the dog is pregnant. Once this is the case, we need to take them to a veterinarian. The vet will perform the necessary examination and tests to determine if the mother dog has any special needs. They will also schedule checkup appointments to see how to ensure there are no complications.
One of the things about which the veterinarian will advise is the pregnant dog's diet. As with most care of a pregnant dog, this will depend on the stage of the pregnancy. At the beginning, their diet won't change. As gestation progresses, they will need more food which creates energy, but what you feed them is not the only factor. How much and how often is essential. You can learn more by looking at our article on what to feed a pregnant dog.
Should I take my pregnant dog for walks?
In the early stages of a dog's pregnancy, the dog should behave as normal. The main changes will be the fact she is no longer be in heat. This means the symptoms of a female dog in heat will disappear and they will appear to be more content and even-natured. They will return to their regular exercise schedule which will depend on various factors. This includes their breed, health and personality.
You will need to walk a dog as per usual at the beginning of their pregnancy. However, as the gestation progresses, their energy levels will lessen. This means they will not want to exercise and be as active as before. Importantly, their energy needs don't lessen. In fact, they increase.
After the 4th week, you will need to give your dog more food so they can cope with the needs of the fetuses. They will exercise less to expend less energy, in turn providing more energy for the young.
If a dog is often sedentary, they may be at risk of obesity. For this reason, we need to be careful. We need to offer the pregnant dog walks to ensure they still get out. The dog should let us know when they are tired, but we shouldn't push them. While walking is encouraged, we should not promote strenuous exercise late in the pregnancy.
Exercise for pregnant dogs
Knowing when to stop exercising your dog is important. While every dog is an individual, most dogs will be able to play with other dogs and run off-leash up to 8 weeks of pregnancy. Its exercise time will slowly reduce as the end of these 8 weeks approaches. Don't push them and be observant if there are any symptoms of pregnancy complications.
After this 8 week period, you will notice the dog becomes more fatigued, moves slower and they become heavier. For this reason, you need to stop actively exercising them. You will also progressively reduce the length and time of their walks.
After two months of pregnancy, we recommend you take your dog for 4 to 5 walks a day. While this sounds like a lot, the walks should only be short periods of 5 to 10 minutes. You will need to keep an eye on their rhythm, their tiredness levels and any other signs. Never force them to go on a walk. This series of short, but regular walks will help keep the dog healthy and avoid problems during their pregnancy.
When can you exercise a dog after giving birth?
When a mother dog give birth, her instincts should kick in and she will know what to do to care for her newborn puppies. Due to feeding her puppies, ensuring they are warm, protecting them from outside elements and providing everything for them, the mother dog will not have much time for exercise. Her body will also be feeling the effects of labor.
Although a puppy's development can seem rapid, they won't be able to open their eyes until around 12 to 16 days. The mother dog will not leave them for long periods as they are very vulnerable. In the wild, the mother dog will need to go out and find food, but she will likely have her pack with her. They can leave the newborn puppies for short periods, but not long.
However, a mother dog may leave her nest after about 24 to 48 hours after giving birth. She won't do it for long, but she will usually want to stretch and have some form of physical activity to maintain her well-being. In terms of walks, we should follow the mother dog's lead and see what she wants to do.
After the first 24 hours, the mother will need to go out to urinate or defecate. Take her our for 5 to 10 minute walks to do so, but do not do it for long. After the puppies start to develop and become less dependent, then you can increase the duration of the walks. If the dog is aggressive after giving birth when you try to walk them, it may be a sign of a problem. You will need to ask the veterinarian whe you take them for their checkup.
Puppies need to be with their mother and siblings for a bare minimum of 8 weeks, but it is recommended they stay for at least 12. After this time, the mother will start distancing herself from the puppies to encourage independence. For the mother, she will need to be fed, exercised, walked and cared for as before.
If you find yourself in the position where your dog has given birth, you will need to know how to look after her puppies. Check out our video below to see what you need to do:
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