A reliable detection is possible with the help of the relaxin determination in the blood serum. Relaxin is a hormone that is formed during pregnancy and only continues to be produced when the fruit is alive in the womb. The advantage of this method is to be able to differentiate between pregnancy and pseudo-pregnancy, and the vitality of the unborn child can also be assessed.
A bitch’s normal gestation period is between 60 and 69 days. At the beginning of pregnancy there is not so much to pay attention to and the amount of food does not have to be increased either.
From the 40th day onwards, you slowly notice an increase in circumference, a thickened teat and an increased appetite in the bitch. From now on you should also give a special food for pregnant and lactating bitches, because especially in the last third of pregnancy the puppies gain immense weight and size. You should already take care of a suitable whelping box that you show the bitch so that she can get used to it.
Ten to six days before the birth, the body temperature drops to 37 to 38 degrees Celsius. That is why it makes sense to check the temperature every day. Because if you notice another significant drop of 1.5 degrees to 36.5, this is an irrevocable sign of the impending birth. In addition, the bitch behaves very conspicuously, such as frequent urination, licking the vulva, nest building behavior, refusal to feed and restlessness.
If you notice the first cramps or a greenish discharge from the vagina, then you have gone into labor. It can take a few minutes or more than an hour between the individual pups. The mother bitch usually cuts the umbilical cord herself, frees the puppies from the pelvic membrane and stimulates breathing by licking. Make sure there is an afterbirth with each puppy. Most bitches eat the afterbirth, which is very rich in protein and provides the bitch with a lot of energy after the strenuous labor.
Usually a healthy bitch will manage the birth on her own, but in an emergency it is advisable to have your veterinarian’s phone number ready, simply for your safety.
You can usually tell by the behavior of the bitch whether the birth is completely over. After she has cleaned herself, she lies flat on her side with her legs outstretched. The puppies are then spread around the teats and suckle the most important first milk, the colostrum.
It is important for you that you weigh the puppies, determine the gender and mark them with different colored ribbons. In the first three weeks, the mother does most of the work on her own. A high-quality feed for lactating bitches that you offer more often during the day is recommended. Daily weight control and contact with the puppies is the norm.