Soft puppy bellies, tentative little snouts and the proud mother who takes care of them - the experience of a litter of puppies is something magical! Whether it's your first or twentieth litter, there can be a lot to think about. In this article series, we will follow the journey from mating until the day when the puppies move to their new homes, and share our kennels' experiences and inspiration to make the new addition to the family as wonderful and smooth as possible. We know that you out there possess an incredible knowledge - so feel free to share with us!
In this article we will talk about the females preparations for mating and the mother's nutritional needs at this stage.
We will start with a checklist for the female before mating:
Are health examinations and samples taken?
Depending on the breed you breed, different health tests or genetic tests may be appropriate. Check with your breeder's club if you feel unsure if anything has changed since the last time!
Is the female fully vaccinated and when should she be dewormed?
Check that the female has up-to-date vaccination protection. It can also be a good idea to double-check the current deworming recommendations.
Is the female in good health?
When mating, the female should be healthy, feeling well and in a normal body condition.
Where is she in her heat and will you need to book an appointment for checking progesterone levels?
In some females, it is clear when heat and thus the time for mating is approaching, but females with irregular or indistinct heat can be more difficult to read. Check with your veterinarian if you need to make an appointment to monitor the female's progesterone levels to get an indication of when it's time to mate, especially if you have a long way to travel for mating. Progesterone levels increase as ovulation,, and thus optimal time to mate, is getting closer.
Hopefully the planning and also the meeting with the litter's future father has gone well, and when the female is mated, it's time to move on to the next step of the planning. It is nice to be prepared, so that both you and the soon-to-be-mother can look forward to the arrival of the little ones in peace and quiet.
When is it time for ultrasound & X-ray, and which is best?
Ultrasound of the pregnant female can be done around day 25-28 in pregnancy. This ultrasound confirms whether the female is pregnant or not. The number of puppies can usually not be counted during the ultrasound, but you can make sure that the puppies you see have a heartbeat and are feeling good in the stomach.
X-rays are taken to count the number of puppies, and can be done around one to two weeks before the expected birth, ie approximately from day 50 of pregnancy. How many puppies do you see in the picture?
(Right answer in the bottom of the article)
What nutritional needs does the pregnant female have at this stage?
Before heat or after a successful mating, it is time to start switching to the puppy food the mother will eat during her pregnancy and lactation. As with all feed changes, this change must take place slowly and gradually. We recommend that the transition takes place over 10 days where you gradually increase the amount of puppy food.
During the first 4 weeks of pregnancy, the mother has approximately the same energy needs as usual, and you therefore do not need to increase the amount of food but just make sure that she gets a smooth feed change and is in good shape without starting to put on too much.
petgood's puppy food contains the higher levels of fat and protein needed to meet the mother's increased needs when the puppies start to grow, and also the vital vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, that the mother needs when she starts producing milk.
Read more here about nutritional recommendations for pregnant dogs.
Kennel Lihkku - breeding of the versatile and hardy breed Finnish Lapphund
Finnish Lapphund is a working dog breed with a long history, and Mia at kennel Lihkku tells why they have chosen petgoods food for their dogs:
"I must admit that from the beginning I was a little skeptical about insects for dogs, but then I read about petgood and the dogfood, and also got tips from another breeder who tried and was very happy about it. I have active and working dogs that should be able to keep up with a lot, and therefore need a food that is sustainable in the long run and gives the dogs the nutrition they need. The fact that it is also climate-friendly is a big bonus. I see a difference in the dogs' fur, which has become both shinier and stronger, paws and teeth are healthy, and the dogs are as alert and happy as usual! ”
Read more about kennel Lihkku here.
In the next article in the series we will cover the mothers nutritional need during the last part of pregnancy and when nursing, give suggestion on a checklist for birth and also meet another kennel in our breeder's club.
Right answer x-ray: 5 puppies. Try finding the puppies' heads, and follow the spine down to count them.