Chihuahuas are a small, delicate breed popular in many parts of the world. Originally hailing from the Chihuahua region of Mexico, the breed has become well known for its docile nature and disposition. As the breed's popularity grew, so did the number of breeders raising this tiny companion. Pregnancy can be difficult for any dog, but caring for a pregnant Chihuahua takes an extra bit of knowledge and skill.
- Skill level:
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Determine your dog's due date. Dog gestation is approximately 63 days, although small breeds like the Chihuahua tend to give birth earlier, as the pups grow too big for the womb. Count the days from the first time your female was bred to the last day she was bred and add 60 days to that. This should give you an approximate window for labour and delivery.
Schedule your Chihuahua for routine visits with your vet. Proper veterinary care throughout her pregnancy is vital to the welfare of both your female and her puppies. The vet will weigh her, worm her and make sure she is up to date on all her vaccinations.
Set up your girl's crate in a quiet, low-stress environment. It is important that your dog is allowed to relax and rest as much as possible to avoid complications such as reabsorption of the foetuses early in pregnancy.
Evaluate your dog's food to make sure it is nutritionally sound enough to support her throughout her pregnancy. A good, high quality kibble will give your girl the proper amount of fats, calories and vitamins to give the puppies a good start. Do not feed excessive fats or oils, as this can cause a build-up of fat around the organs, adding extra stress to you dog's already strained body. Chihuahuas are very small, and too much food early in pregnancy can result in very large puppies which can be dangerous for the mother.
Adjust your dog's food to allow for the extra calories necessary to support and nurture the growing puppies. You should gradually increase your female's food until she is getting approximately one and a quarter times her normal ration to make up for the nutrients the puppies are taking from her. Be sure to leave fresh water down at all times to avoid dehydration.
Exercise your dog gently during gestation. Low-impact exercises, such as a walk to the park and a few minutes of easy play, should help stave off obesity. Strenuous training, obedience classes and heavy competition should be avoided to reduce strain and possible injury to the developing pups. Most Chihuahuas do not require a lot of exercise, so a half hour of walking a day is more than enough to keep her fit.
Separate your girl from other pets in your house approximately two weeks before her due date. General isolation will give your dog time to relax and ease into a new routine which will help comfort her and keep her calm during labour and delivery. Isolation also helps to avoid the spread of any contagious diseases that might cause illness or infection during the late stages of her pregnancy.
Prepare a quiet whelping area a few days before the due date and move her to that room. Most females will begin to nest and make beds for themselves as labour nears and will become extremely clingy to their owners, so watch for these signs. The day before her due date, take her temperature every 4 hours. Her temperature will drop around one degree within 24 hours of whelping.
Watch over her for signs of undue stress during birth, but do not interfere. Puppies are typically whelped every 30 minutes or so, although a break of an hour is not unusual. She will normally break the membrane over the puppy and sever the umbilical cord herself before moving onto the next puppy, but you can help her out if she seems frightened or unsure of what to do. If your girl is pushing or straining hard with no results, or you see any excessive bleeding, call your vet immediately.
Tips and warnings
- Keep in close contact with your veterinarian throughout your dog's pregnancy. He will be your best resource for any questions you might have about your dog, and can give you tips and hints on how to make her pregnancy as easy as possible.
- Do not allow other pets to interfere with your female or her puppies. New mothers can be extremely territorial over their pups and will often inflict serious injury if they feel threatened.
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