Educational Articles

Dogs + Breeding

  • Dogs can be bred when they are in heat. Depending on the size and breed of the dog, heats can begin as early as 4 months and can occur as frequently as every 4 months. Spaying a dog either through ovariohysterectomy or ovariectomy is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy. Spaying also negates false pregnancies and pyometra and reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Medications exist to control the heat cycle but they carry the risk of serious, potentially fatal side effects. There are no drugs approved for use in the US or Canada.

  • Having a litter of puppies is an exciting event, but not without its responsibilities. At appropriate ages, puppies should be dewormed and start their vaccine series. They can start making their way to new homes by eight to ten weeks of age.

  • For the next two months, even if everything went smoothly with the birth, you have a lot of work to do! After the birthing process, clean up the mother as much as possible without upsetting her using a warm water and washcloth. Do not use any soaps or disinfectants unless instructed to by your veterinarian. Remove any soiled newspaper or bedding from her whelping box. Normally the new mother will spend most of her time with the puppies. It is important to have the mother and puppies examined by your veterinarian within forty-eight hours of birth. The veterinarian will check the mother to make sure there is no infection and that she is producing sufficient milk. The puppies will also be examined to make sure that there are no birth defects such as cleft palates. Any necessary medications or injections will be administered during this visit.

  • This handout summarizes the care of the pregnant dog and the puppies following birth. Topics include eye care, diet, and instructions for weaning the pups at the appropriate time.

  • Although most dogs will give birth without the need for human or veterinary assistance, certain problems can arise which require veterinary attention. It is essential to closely monitor your pet during birthing and seek veterinary care if you have any concerns.

  • This handout is a basic care guide for pregnant dogs, outlining changes in nutritional requirements and physical activity, and pregnancy testing.

  • Breeding dogs is a great responsibility that should not be done just because an owner wants puppies from their beloved dog. There are many potential consequences to the bitch and the puppies that need to be taken into account and prevented if possible, including producing puppies from parents with known heritable problems and medical care of the bitch and puppies. Breeding does not reduce unwanted behavior in male dogs and there is no guarantee that puppies will be anything like the parent, so this is not valid reasons to breed a dog. Many puppies are abandoned at dog shelters or worse because of inappropriate breeding practices. There are usually many abandoned dogs looking for homes that an owner can find what they are looking for through shelters or rescue organizations.

  • This handout summarizes whelping (giving birth) in dogs. Instructions for preparing your pregnant dog for delivery and how to assist her if necessary are outlined. Situations requiring veterinary assistance are also described.

  • A caesarean section is a major surgery usually performed in an emergency to help deliver puppies. As with any anesthesia, the dog may be sleepy but should be able to eat a high quality diet and nurse puppies within a few hours. The dog should be monitored for fever, abnormal vulvar discharge, and abnormalities at her incision. It is important to ensure that puppies are able to nurse well. If not, or if the dog can not produce enough milk, then commercial milk replacer is recommended. Colostrum ingestion is important for immune protection. If puppies are not nursing within the first 24 hours, then they will need additional veterinary care. Ambient temperature is important in the first 2-4 weeks after birth as puppies cannot regulate their temperature well.

  • This handout discusses the growing trend for designer dog breeds – the crossing of pure dog breeds to create dogs that combine “the best of both worlds.” The pros and cons of this practice are highlighted, along with some of the more common designer breeds currently available.

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