Giving your dog some TLC when she becomes a mommy will ensure her needs are met while she's busy taking care of the needs of her litter. You're already used to pampering your pooch, so a little extra care won't be much of a stretch. If Lola has long hair, you can start the post-natal care with a grooming session before she has her puppies. Have the groomer clip the hair on her tummy to prepare her for nursing.
It's vital for your nursing dog to be in a calm, comfortable environment. Although it's tempting to show off Lola's new litter to visitors, resist the urge. Your dog will be stressed by too much activity and too many strangers pawing at her pups. It can be upsetting for Lola with too many visitors. You don't have to close off the nursery, but do keep it quiet and free from traffic. Also, keep a supply of clean towels so you can change the bedding in the nest daily to keep it sanitary.
Feeding a litter of growing puppies takes a lot out of a mother. As the babies get bigger, they'll eat more, and Lola's appetite will grow accordingly. She'll need two to three times more food while her puppies are nursing to keep up with everyone's nutritional demands. Talk to your vet about putting her on a high protein diet. With a quality, vet-recommended food Lola shouldn't need vitamin supplements. You also should keep your dog's water dish filled with clean water at all times to keep her hydrated and provide her with fluid to help produce plenty of milk.
Keep an eye on mother and pups to make sure nursing is going well. The puppies should be active, vocal and gaining weight. If one or more doesn't appear to be thriving, contact your vet immediately. Also watch Lola's belly for signs of infection. It's possible for nursing dogs to develop mastitis, which can in turn infect her puppies, so nursing has to stop immediately. Inspect your dog's nipples frequently and if she shows signs that they're painful and if there are red, hot and hard areas, notify the vet. You always should consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your nursing dog and her pups. He will prescribe antibiotics for your dog and advise you on alternative feeding options for the puppies until Lola can resume nursing.
Lola will be spending most of her time sedentary in the nesting box with her puppies until they get older. Getting her out of the nursery for a few minutes several times a day will benefit her mentally as well as physically. Take her outside for a potty break, and allow her to sniff around and stretch her legs. Don't strap on the leash and expect to take her for her usual 30-minute walk or a run in the park because she shouldn't be away from her pups for long. But short periods of moderate exercise will get her circulation going and will help guard against the loss of muscle tone.
- The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats; Editors of Prevention Health Books
- The Dog Care Book; Sheldon L. Gerstenfeld
- The Complete Book of Dog Breeding; Dan Rice
- Caring for Family Pets: Choosing and Keeping Our Companion Animals Healthy; Edited by Radford G. Davis
- Dr. Earl Mindell's Nutrition and Health for Dogs; Earl Mindell, Ph.D.
- Health and Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: A Guide for Pet Parents; David G. Wellock
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images