Here we have written a summary of what to expect during the 63 day gestation period of your cocker spaniel and some key points of preparation for whelping. This intended as a guide for new breeders and is not to be considered comprehensive. It is gathered from our own experiences plus that of fellow breeders. We also are now a member of a new dog breeding forum which we look at every day so please feel free to join yourself and ask any questions. Dog breeding forum
For the first 3 weeks of the gestation period there are few changes
from the norm needed to be made in caring for you pregnant Cocker
Spaniel. You should continue to feed her as normal and exercise
regularly as normal. If you have any medications you give to your
dog you should always check with a vet first if they are suitable
for a pregnant bitch. Flea treatment should not be given to a
pregnant bitch at any time during gestation.
You may notice some changes in her behaviour during this period such as slight personality change and possible morning sickness.
From week four you should limit exercise.
Cockers are such lively animals this can be hard to do but try to
stop her from jumping and going off on long runs. Its not advisable
to work her from this point on.
You will now need to start adding extra nutrition to her diet but not too much. Its temping to over nourish a pregnant bitch but this can do more harm than good. At this point a hard boiled egg every other day is sufficient in addition to her normal food. We have always fed our dogs on dried food and continued to do so with our bitches when pregnant. We also reduce slightly the amount of dried food and substituted that amount with fresh steamed vegetables such as broccoli carrots and cabbage.
Over the fifth week you will need to
increase her food slightly and at this point add puppy food to her
meals. Some people switch completely to puppy food however we have
found that switching food has not agreed with our bitches and used a
mixture of puppy meat, regular dried food, boiled egg, vegetables,
cottage cheese and vitamin and mineral powder. Only a slight
increase in the size of one of her meals is needed if fed twice a
day and if you feed once daily add one small extra meal. Keep it to
one boiled egg every other day with a couple of table spoons of
At this point you should notice a change in her shape and an increase in weight.
At week six you should see a change in the bitch's nipples as they darken and enlarge and further enlargement of the abdomen - the pups in the womb now will be around 40-45mm long. Increase the amount of food and include a boiled egg and cottage cheese daily. Its a good idea at this point to have the bitch sleep in the area you have prepared for whelping to let her settle in. If you haven't already purchased a whelping box or made one then now is the time. If you are into DIY then take a look at how to make a whelping box for a Cocker Spaniel
At week seven she will be large enough now to see she is clearly pregnant and start to loose the hair from her abdomen to allow easy access for feeding pups. Care should be taken to keep her from jumping up or any strenuous activity daily short walks on the lead will be sufficient if she wants to. She will need to have both meals increased a little at this point.
By week eight the puppies will be fully developed and you should be able to clearly see movement in the abdomen. If for some reason the puppies are premature from this point they should be born healthy. To keep her strong for whelping add a small extra meal between her two regular meals. Don't add any any extra cottage cheese or boiled eggs as too much protein and calcium can cause problems with lactating.
Week nine is the final week of gestation
and you should now be well prepared for the birth of the litter and
looking for signs of imminent whelping. Your bitch may begin to show
nesting behaviour but is not apparent with all dogs. She may show
signs of distress especially with a maiden and inability to get
comfortable. Check her temperature 2 or 3 times a day as when birth
is imminent her temperature will drop a few degrees and pups will
usually be born within 24 hrs. Normal temperature should be
approximately 100.2 to 100.8 °F and the drop
can be anything from 0.8 to 2.8 °F
If after 36-48 hrs of her temperature drop or by the end of the day of her due date (whichever comes first) she had not shown signs of giving birth then it is important to consult your vet. Dogs are usually to the day if not a little early and any delay could be due to complications. It is always best to air on the side caution.
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