Pregnant Pets: What Owners Need to Know
Thu, April 22, 2021

Pregnant Pets: What Owners Need to Know

Dog and cat pregnancy is always a delicate and emotional experience for both pet parents and animals / Photo by: sonjachnyj via 123RF

 

Dog and cat pregnancy is always a delicate and emotional experience for both pet parents and animals. Once a pet starts to show signs of being pregnant, their owner must exert all efforts to make sure that then pregnancy will be as comfortable as possible for the animal and that there won’t be any complication.

 

Identifying the Pregnancy Signs

The period of pregnancy for both cats and dogs is 61 to 65 days (with an average of 60 days), which means it’s certainly a lot shorter than the pregnancy of people. This means that there is also a shorter time to prepare for the big event, especially so if the owner doesn’t even realize that their pet is pregnant (that should say a lot about the kind of owner they are). If it does happen that an owner is clueless about the condition of their pet, there are certain signs that should alert them that soon, they will become pet grandparents. 

There might be little difference in terms of pregnancy symptoms between dogs and cats. Dogs N Stuff, an online source of articles for dog owners, mentioned in an article that if a dog is pregnant, she might get tired easily while doing her daily routine. She will also spend an unusual amount of time sleeping.

On the other hand, cats will show a radical change in behavior. Traditions Veterinary Centers, an animal hospital in Forth Worth, Texas, pointed out in an article that if your normally aloof cat starts to become a snuggler, it might be a sign that she is carrying a litter of kittens already. 

 

Feeding the Pregnant

Similar to humans, pregnant animals also need the right amount of nutrients and vitamins to make their bodies stronger especially during pregnancy. Newport Harbor Animal Hospital, an accredited member of the American Animal Hospital Association, stated in their website that pregnant animals may have different nutritional needs as compared to when they weren’t pregnant. A visit to the veterinarian is recommended.

The animal hospital added that a vet might suggest having the pregnant cat switch back to kitten food that will nourish both the mother and the unborn kittens. She will also need a smaller amount of food each feeding time because there will be less room in her stomach as the babies grow inside. 

Meanwhile, during the early stages of pregnancy in dogs, it will be noticeable that they are eating less than they usually do. They might even vomit occasionally since their hormones are fluctuating in their system. This can be compared to when humans experience morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy. 

However, there are some dogs that show an increased appetite during pregnancy, and in their case, increasing the amount of food each meal should be the rule. 

Similar to humans, pregnant animals also need the right amount of nutrients and vitamins to make their bodies stronger especially during pregnancy / Photo by: Monika Wisniewska via 123RF

 

Physical Changes

Both cats and dogs share similar changes in the body when pregnant such as their nipples becoming bigger. These might also change in shape, becoming more rounded compared to their flat appearance previously.

Also, pregnancy in pets can be determined by observing their weight. Your pet’s abdomen will expand in size, and it might be the clearest symptom that will let you know about her pregnancy, especially if she has no other reason for gaining weight. The Spruce Pets, a website that provides information about pets and pet issues, said in their article that when the cat’s heat cycles stop, it might mean that they are pregnant. 

Both cats and dogs share similar changes in the body when pregnant such as their nipples becoming bigger / Photo by: butus via 123RF

 

Nesting Behavior

During the last weeks of pregnancy, you will notice your pet checking out places inside and outside your house. This is because she is looking for a spot where she can give birth. You can help them by leading them to a designated spot that they will feel safe and comfortable especially when they start to go into labor.

This nesting place could be a box that is large enough for the pet to comfortably give birth and also tall enough so that the babies will not able to escape when they start crawling. This box should be in a warm place and lined with soft blankets or towels that you won’t mind throwing away. 

For cats, they might seek a quiet and private place, and their search might begin two days prior to labor. The pregnant cat might be noisier as they meow more than usual.

For both animals, make sure to give them enough space as they will feel irritable and reclusive during this time. 

 

Postnatal Care

After your pet has delivered her adorable little babies, it is now your responsibility to make sure that all of them receive the appropriate care from specialists. Take your pet and her babies to the veterinarian 24 to 48 hours after the birth for their postnatal checkup. This might also be a good time to discuss if your pet should be spayed so that surprise pregnancies could be prevented.