Contraception in Dogs

If you are not looking forward to the pitter-patter of little paws, neuter or spay your pet. For dogs, the most reliable and effective method for birth control is the removal of the reproductive organs.

For some people, however, the procedure is too permanent. They may want their pet to breed some time in the future, and are looking for a way to suppress the sex drive. Two medications – progestin and mibolerone – have been shown to suppress the reproductive drive, but they are only effective in the female. So far, there is no medication that can suppress the libido in male dogs.

Progestins

Progesterone-type medication, such as megestrol acetate, medroxyprogesterone acetate and proligestone, have been used to suppress estrus (heat) in dog. In order to be effective, the medication must be given at a specific time during the heat cycle. The dose of the medication varies on when it is given related to the heat cycle. For dogs, this medication should not be used to suppress more than two heat cycles in a row. These medications usually do not affect future heat cycles and ability to become pregnant.

However, these medications carry increased risk of cystic endometrial hyperplasia, uterine infection and mammary tumors. Diabetes, adrenal gland dysfunction and hair loss have also occurred in pets that have been given progestins.

Mibolerone

Mibolerone is an androgen (testosterone-type drug) that has been used to suppress estrus. The medication is usually started 30 days before the onset of estrus. It is not recommended to use for longer than 24 months in dogs.

As with progestins, there are adverse effects associated with mibolerone. Vaginal infections and liver disease have occurred in dogs.

Due to the potential side effects, use of these medications to suppress estrus in dogs is not recommended. Discuss the potential risks and benefits with your veterinarian.

What is Neutering in Cats?

Neutering is a procedure used to “de-sex” an animal. This procedure has been used to control animal population growth, reduce unwanted sexual behavior in pets, and decrease or eliminate the possibility of certain disease conditions later in life (such as pyometra or infection in the uterus). Castration is a term used to describe the removal of the gonads (testicles) in male animals. Spaying is a term used to describe the sterilization procedure of females. The procedure of spaying most often consists of ovariohysterectomy (removal of both the ovaries and uterus). Both procedures are performed under general anesthesia and both involve a surgical incision. Neutering is done most commonly at or around six months of age. However, many veterinarians perform this procedure earlier – as early as 8 – 10 weeks in some situations. Early neutering can be done safely, and has a number of advantages, especially in cases of pet adoption.

The Basics of Cat Breeding

It is a scene repeated all too often. A panicked owner and a pet in distress presented in labor. Sometimes what is happening is normal, labor takes time and the pet’s guardian is simply overanxious. Sometimes the situation is more serious, and the pet may require medical intervention or even a cesarean section. The best way to avoid or prepare for these situations is to be an informed, knowledgeable owner before breeding your cat.

Visit Your Vet

Before breeding your cat, a visit to your veterinarian is essential. Your pet’s doctor can make sure your cat is in excellent health, currently vaccinated and free from internal and external parasites. Discuss a proper diet for pregnancy, as certain nutritional requirements will increase. If you have a purebred cat, be sure to discuss potentially inherited problems, because each breed has a tendency to develop certain diseases or conditions. Your veterinarian can tell you what problems are common among your specific breed and if your cat is a good breeding candidate. Temperament is important. Nervous, anxious, shy or aggressive cats often make poor parents and pass these traits on to their kittens.

Select a Mate

Finding the right mate for your cat should be done carefully and with consideration. Choose a mate that best complements your pet’s temperament and physical characteristics. An experienced breeder can often be helpful in showing you how to recognize your cat’s strengths and weaknesses. All purebreds recognized by various kennel clubs have a set of physical standards considered to be the goal of breeding a litter of kittens. Check the breed standard guides for your particular cat and then evaluate your cat against the accepted standard. Look for a mate that best complements and balances your pet’s structure, temperament, color and size.

Understand Your Cat’s Reproductive Cycle

Your veterinarian can explain in detail your cat’s reproductive cycle. This is essential if you will be caring for the mother during pregnancy and labor. A female becomes fertile several times a year. This is known as the heat cycle, and for a few specific days within this cycle, she will be fertile and accept a male. When these days occur is individual to the cat and will be influenced by size, age, and if she has had previous breedings. A successful breeding may require several encounters between male and female to ensure a pregnancy. The day of the first breeding is considered to be day 1 of pregnancy. The length of pregnancy, or gestation period, is 61 to 65 days, the average being 63 days from the first day of breeding.

Labor and Delivery

During the first few weeks of pregnancy your pet will probably not demonstrate any noticeable differences in behavior. As the time for delivery approaches, your cat may become restless and begin to nest. She may want quiet and isolation or constant company. Every pregnancy and labor is unique to every cat. As delivery approaches, your pet will experience a natural fall in body temperature. You can take your pet’s temperature rectally. When it falls below 100 degrees Fahrenheit, most labor begins within 24 hours. Labor in cats looks a lot like labor in people. You will see your cat actively contract the muscles of the abdomen and uterus to help push the kittens forward. Sometimes a fluid filled sac is produced before the kitten is seen. These are the membranes of the placenta, and each kitten has his own. You may see only the sac for several minutes before the kitten is delivered. Sometimes the kitten and the placenta are delivered rapidly. Breech births, where the kitten comes out tail first instead of head first, are common and usually pose no problems. In general, if your cat has been actively contracting for more than 1 hour without producing a kitten, it’s time to call your veterinarian.

Be Prepared

We all hope for a smooth labor and delivery with a beautiful litter of healthy kittens as a result. But if you expect the best you must also be prepared for the worst. A cesarean section is often necessary and even anticipated in certain breeds such as the Persian due to the large size of the kitten’s heads. Not all kittens survive; some are born with birth defects. And contrary to popular belief, not all cats are “natural mothers.” Some cats simply refuse to care for their kittens and can even display aggression. If this is the case, you must be ready to assume the task of surrogate parenting. Kitten milk replacers, heat sources, pet nursing bottles, and lots of time and love will be necessary to see them through the first 6 weeks.

Trends in Animal Health: Vasectomy in Dogs

The health risks that result from the removal of reproductive hormones in young growing dogs is a topic of recent research. It suggests that there may be benefit of continued reproductive hormone production by dogs and even risks related to the lack of these hormones. These potential risks, along with other concerns about spaying and neutering, have led pet owners to look for alternatives to traditional neutering in male dogs (commonly referred to as castration).

One option to the traditional castration procedure is a vasectomy. (An alternative to a traditional spay is a hysterectomy.) This article will compare a traditional castration procedure vs. a vasectomy in dogs and the potential risks.

What is a Vasectomy vs. a Traditional Castration?

The procedure usually referred to in dogs as “neutering” is castration, a procedure during which the testicles are removed. This removes not only a dog’s ability to breed but also their ability to produce hormones such as testosterone. This is a very common procedure and has been performed with increasing frequency in dogs as young as 6 to 8 weeks old.

In contrast, a vasectomy in dogs is a surgical procedure where the tube which carries sperm out of the testicle (called the vas deferens) is clamped, cut, or sealed. This prevents sperm from being ejaculated out of the body, thus preventing a male dog’s ability to breed. The testicle will still produce sperm but it is reabsorbed by the body. After a vasectomy the testicles are left intact, allowing reproductive hormone function to continue normally. A vasectomy can be performed to prevent breeding and subsequent population control while leaving the testicles to allow normal hormonal development.

Benefits and Risks

There are benefits to traditional castration. It is typically inexpensive and quick. Because it is so common, many surgeons are very adept at performing it. The castration procedure was also thought to minimize the risk of prostate problems in dogs.

More recent evidence suggests, however, that intact dogs who are not neutered may have fewer health problems than pets that are. The issue of pet overpopulation is still severe that despite this information, sterilizing a pet is still considered a crucial part of responsible pet ownership.

Dogs with a vasectomy will experience the same reproductive urges as intact dogs and retain their desire to mate. It can take several months after the vasectomy surgery for all the sperm to be ejaculated or reabsorbed; therefore, dogs can remain fertile and able to reproduce for a period of time. Dogs should be prevented from roaming or having contact with intact female dogs for 2 to 6 months after the vasectomy procedure is performed.

Vasectomy in dogs is becoming a more common option for owners that want to prevent overpopulation but are afraid of the negative aspects of neutering. It allows for normal hormone development and may have additional health benefits as a result.

We hope this article on vasectomy trends in animal health gives you more information about vasectomy as an alternative to traditional neutering in dogs.


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Pregnancy in Cats

Pregnancy is the period of gestation when the young are developing in the mother’s uterus. Normal gestation in cats is 58 to 68 days (the average is 63 days).

The litter size in cats varies from one kitten to more than 10. Litter sizes are often smaller in young and old animals and largest when the mother is around three to four years of age.

Conditions that may be confused with pregnancy include mastitis (inflammation of the mammary glands), mammary gland neoplasia (cancer), abdominal enlargement due to fluid accumulation or organ enlargement, or pyometra (infection of the uterus).

What to Watch For

  • Nesting behavior (attempting to make a nest by tearing up papers, blankets, etc.)
  • Mothering activity (this may include mothering of shoes, toys and other articles)
  • Weight gain (which typically occurs after the 4th week of pregnancy)
  • Abdominal enlargement or swelling
  • Mammary gland enlargement. The mammary glands may be large and secrete milk or serous fluid (usually one to two days before delivery)
  • Abnormal behavior. If your pet does not eat, acts lethargic or you notice excessive vaginal discharge, please call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Be aware that many cats seek seclusion before delivery, and this is considered normal delivery behavior.
  • Diagnosis

    Your veterinarian may perform some diagnostic tests to confirm your cat’s health and to determine if she is pregnant. These include:

  • A complete medical history and physical examination.
  • Evaluating your cat’s behavior and noting any potential breeding episodes
  • Abdominal palpation (technique of examining the organs and other parts of the body by touching and feeling). However, kittens can seldom be felt until at least 26 to 35 days after breeding and fetuses can be difficult to feel in some cats.
  • Abdominal radiographs or X-rays (the skeleton of the kitten is visible on an X-ray after 45 days of pregnancy)
  • Abdominal ultrasound can be used to diagnosis pregnancy after 21 to 24 days post breeding. This is a safe and excellent way to diagnose pregnancy and verify the health of the kittens. Ultrasound can also be used to estimate litter size.
  • Testing for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

    Your veterinarian may recommend other tests (not typically done with a normal pregnancy) based on a case-by-case basis. Tests may include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC). There are no practical blood or urine tests available to diagnose pregnancy in cats.
  • Serum biochemistry (bloodwork to look for abnormalities in liver and kidney function)
  • Urinalysis
  • Treatment

  • Normal pregnancy does not usually need any “treatment;” however, it is important to see your veterinarian for regular check-ups to ensure the health of your pet.
  • It is extremely important that your cat be cared for properly during the pregnancy.
  • If you decide that you do not wish to have further litters, or if your pet has significant problems during the birth process, you may wish to have her spayed to prevent further pregnancies.
  • Have your veterinarian recheck your cat one week before the due date. The doctor may then palpate for kittens and perform a pelvic exam to establish a rough estimate of pelvic canal size vs. kitten size to try to anticipate problems that might occur during the delivery.
  • Home Care

    Good nutrition is essential for healthy kittens and mothers so feed your pet a high-quality diet formulated for pregnant or nursing cats.

  • Although nutritional needs change little during the first 4 weeks of gestation, your cat’s nutritional needs may double or triple during the last 5 weeks. Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet and/or vitamins for your cat.
  • Be sure to provide the increased amounts of food she needs in several small meals each day, rather than feeding it all at one time. It is particularly important to feed frequent small meals during the last part of gestation. A pregnant cat may not feel like eating much as delivery nears because her abdomen is full of kittens, which leaves little room for the stomach to enlarge. Continue feeding a high-quality diet until after the kittens have been weaned.
  • Be sure that fresh water is always available, since pregnancy increases your pet’s fluid needs.
  • Moderate exercise is recommended. Neither forced rest nor strenuous exercise is a good idea. Keeping your cat indoors is often recommended (especially during the last couple weeks of pregnancy).
  • If you would like to know more precisely when delivery is near, check the rectal temperature of the mother twice daily from the 58th day of pregnancy until labor begins. Normal rectal temperature varies between 100.5 and 102.0 degrees Fahrenheit. Within approximately 24 hours of the onset of labor the rectal temperature drops nearly two degrees in most cats.
  • Embryo Transfer in Mares

    Embryo transfer is an assisted reproduction technique by which an embryo is transferred from the uterus of a donor mare to the uterus of a recipient mare that will carry the pregnancy to term. The embryo is usually recovered from the donor mare by uterine lavage (wash) at around 6 to 8 days after ovulation. The embryo is then placed in the uterus of a synchronized recipient mare.

    Advantages

  • A valuable mare can produce more than one foal per season.
  • Mares can be in competition while producing foals.
  • Young, genetically valuable mares can start producing foals before reaching physical maturity or while in training.
  • Aged mares incapable of carrying a foal themselves due to pathology based on uterine biopsy can continue to produce foals.
  • Mares with physical disabilities preventing pregnancy or foaling such as tearing of abdominal muscles or old pelvic fractures can still produce offspring.

    Disadvantages

  • The procedure is costly.
  • Restrictions or prohibition are enforced by some breed associations.
  • Performing embryo transfer in mares requires specialized training, and therefore not all equine facilities or practitioners are prepared to offer this service

    The success of this procedure depends on the ability to control any of the following factors:

  • The inherent fertility of the donor mare, which cannot be controlled. Furthermore, in many cases, subfertility is the reason why some mares become embryo transfer candidates.
  • The inherent fertility of the recipient mares. These mares should be chosen based on young age and a normal reproductive tract.
  • Breeding management or timing should be appropriate when performing embryo transfer.
  • The embryo recovery and transfer technique. Experience of the veterinarian plays an important role in the success of the procedure.
  • Degree of synchronization of donor and recipient. The donor and recipient mares are synchronized with the use of hormones; tight synchronization is important to ensure that the embryo is transferred into an appropriate uterine environment.

    Equipment for Embryo Transfer

    Starting an embryo transfer program requires setting-up a specialized laboratory. Embryo transfer equipment is commercially available from most companies selling equine breeding supplies. Apart from the usual equipment used for routine assisted breeding, such as an ultrasound machine, the following is required:

  • Foley catheters to flush the donor's uterus. This is a special type of catheter used to flush the uterus of the donor mare for embryo recovery. A balloon at its end allows lodging of the catheter in the cervix of the mare, preventing loss of fluid during the flushing procedure.
  • Extra tubing and connectors that are attached to the end of the Foley catheter to introduce and flush out fluid from the mare's uterus.
  • Special filters to recover the embryo from the flushing fluid.
  • A dissecting microscope to search for the embryo.
  • Sterile culture dishes, capillary glass pipettes, and miscellaneous laboratory utensils.

    The flushing medium most commonly used for embryo transfer is Dulbecco's phosphate buffered saline (DPBS) supplemented with 10 percent fetal calf serum and antibiotics. This medium is also used to wash and transfer the embryo into the recipient's uterus. The medium may be purchased in liquid or in powder form and reconstituted in the laboratory. As an alternative to DPBS, which is expensive, some practitioners use Lactated Ringers Solution instead.

    Prior to attempting embryo recovery, all utensils and media should be warmed to body temperature in an incubator to avoid cold shock to the embryo. All equipment should be either disposable or washed properly and sterilized prior to use. No detergents or disinfectants should be used for washing embryo transfer equipment, since they may leave residues that might compromise viability of the embryo. Equipment is washed with warm tap water only and is then thoroughly rinsed with distilled water. Reusable catheters, tubing and filters should be gas sterilized prior to use.

    Separate Foley catheters should be reserved for embryo recovery procedures and not mixed with those used to lavage the uterus of mares with infections.

    Choosing Recipients for Embryo Transfer

    It is well worthwhile to invest time and money in choosing optimal recipients, as it would be wasteful to invest resources and expertise in breeding a donor mare and recovering an embryo and then place it in the uterus of a mare that could not carry a foal to term. Therefore all mares purchased with the purpose of becoming recipients for an embryo transfer program should be submitted to a complete breeding soundness exam. All mares that make it into the recipient program should pass all aspects of the BSE and have a healthy endometrium (lining of the uterus) when evaluated in a biopsy sample.

  • The Heat Cycle of Dogs

    Estrus in the bitch (female dog) is defined as the time during the reproductive cycle when she displays interest in mating and has probably ovulated or is about to ovulate. Estrus begins when the bitch allows the male to mount and breed, and ends when her receptive behavior ceases.

    General Causes

    Bitches reach sexual maturity (puberty) between 4 to 18 months of age, at which time they experience their first estrus. There is a tremendous variability in the maturation age between breeds, and even within a breed of dog.

    Several major phases compose the estrous cycle. Variations in the level of normal circulating hormones contribute to these different phases.

  • Proestrus – the period that precedes estrus, when males are attracted to non-receptive females. Proestrus generally lasts for approximately nine days.
  • Estrus – the period of breeding lasting approximately five to nine days; together with proestrus in known as the time of being "in heat".
  • Diestrus – the period following mating. Diestrus lasts approximately 56 to 58 days in the pregnant bitch, and 60 to 100 days in the non-pregnant bitch.
  • Anestrus – the period of reproductive quiescence. The bitch has no attraction to or from the male. Anestrus generally lasts four to five months.

    What to Watch For

  • Small amounts of bloody vaginal discharge are associated with proestrus. Initially, the vulvar lips swell and become soft and pliable.
  • Restlessness
  • Frequent urination
  • Ability of the female to attract males from long distances away
  • Receptivity to the male

    Diagnosis

    Vaginal cytology is a very helpful tool in documenting estrus in the dog, and measurement of serum progesterone helps to determine the day of ovulation in the bitch. If the estrous cycle appears to be abnormal, or the dog is believed to be infertile, then additional diagnostic tests may be recommended. These include:

  • A thorough history and physical examination
  • Baseline blood tests to include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, and urinalysis as a broad general health screen
  • Measurement of other hormones that affect the reproductive cycle, such as thyroid assays
  • Blood test for brucellosis, a bacterial infection of the reproductive track
  • Screening thoracic and abdominal radiographs
  • Abdominal ultrasonography

    Treatment

    Estrus is a normal physiologic function of the intact female dog. Estrus can be prevented or eliminated by spaying the dog. The medical term for spaying is ovariohysterectomy, which means that both the ovaries and uterus are surgically removed. All signs of estrus cease within a few days of spaying the dog.

    Home Care

    It is very important to be aware of when your female dog is in estrus. It is common for a bitch in estrus to attract males from all over the neighborhood. Inappropriate mating may occur, and preventative measures should be taken to keep the dog inside confined or constantly supervised by someone when outside.

  • Maintaining a Healthy Cattery

    Maintaining a healthy cattery doesn't happen by itself. The health and well being of your cats is dependant on a regular program of veterinary care, good husbandry practices and careful observation. Once your cattery facility has been established, you will want to follow a well-planned system designed to decrease illness, infectious disease and stress.

    Select a Veterinarian

    Veterinary care is the most essential element in maintaining your cat's health. Before you bring home your first cat, select a veterinarian with whom you feel comfortable and can communicate openly. You will routinely require the expertise of your veterinarian so it is important that both you and the veterinarian feel positive about each other and your goals.

    Tell your veterinarian about your cattery, how many cats you have and what you wish to accomplish (i.e. breeding, showing, boarding etc.) Find out whether the doctor will make house calls if needed and whether or not he or she will be available for emergencies or phone consults. Ask who will cover emergencies if your doctor is unavailable or refers them after regular office hours, then take the time to locate the emergency clinic and talk to the staff so you are familiar with the clinic, hours of operation, and any fees or costs involved. It is important to take these steps to be prepared to provide for your cats in the event they need emergency care.

    Your veterinarian will help you establish vaccination schedules, suggest parasite control and discuss issues of nutrition. Health programs will vary with each cattery and depend on factors such as travel (i.e. if you plan to take your cats to cat shows every weekend), where your cats are obtained, breeding programs etc. Some of the more commonly recommended vaccines include:

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis
  • Calicivirus
  • Panleukopenia
  • Rabies
  • Feline leukemia
  • Feline infectious peritonitis

    If you take cats for boarding, your vet will help you formulate a series of health and vaccination screenings for boarding animals to reduce the incidence of infectious disease. Every resident in the cattery should have a thorough physical exam at least one time per year. Any new cats should be isolated from the general population for 10 to 14 days before introduction to avoid the spread of unapparent infectious disease. New cats should be tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus after 6 months of age. Some veterinarians recommend coronavirus testing as well.

    Husbandry

    A daily routine should be established in the cattery that include husbandry and management practices. Husbandry refers to the physical cleaning of the facility, equipment, feed bowls, etc., as well as the physical care of the cats (grooming, medicating, feeding etc.) Good husbandry is essential as many diseases are prevented just by maintaining a clean facility and careful observation of every resident. You will need to budget time every day to feed two weighed and measured meals, clean every unit or kennel, sanitize feed bowls and other kitchen equipment. Litter boxes will need to be changed every day and sanitized. Special disinfecting solutions and appropriate protective equipment will be needed for cleaning the equipment and facility.

    Longhaired cats should be brushed every day and any ongoing medical needs attended. Each cat should be identified with a collar and tag, tattoo or microchip and a record or a daily log should be kept to record things like appetite, behavior and eliminations. Any changes should be noted and reported, in case this is the possible start of an illness.

    A large part of animal husbandry is observing your cats for potential medical problems. How do you tell if your cat is sick? Being familiar with your cat's individual behavior patterns goes a long way in making that determination. While it is beyond the scope of this article to list and describe the symptoms of every feline disease, here is a general guideline of symptoms that indicate a need for medical intervention.

  • Sneezing, coughing, runny eyes
  • Rapid respirations or trouble breathing
  • Change in urine habits, i.e. urinating outside of the litter box
  • Straining to urinate
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Pale or yellow color of the mucus membranes
  • Any bite or scratch wounds inflicted by playmates or between aggressive cats

    If any cat shows sign of illness, isolation procedures should be employed. While it may seem hard to remove your pet from his familiar environment and friends, you must be prepared to isolate sick animals from the healthy ones. If this is not done, you risk spreading a disease through your entire cattery. Isolation also gives you a better opportunity to observe a sick individual, and to administer any medications with less stress. Many sick cats get well faster when isolated as it does reduce the stress of living in a group.

  • Pregnancy in Dogs

    Pregnancy is the period of gestation when the young are developing in the mother's uterus. Normal gestation in dogs is 58 to 68 days (the average is 63 days).

    The litter size in dogs varies from one puppy to more than 17 in some giant breed dogs. Litter sizes are often smaller in young and old animals and largest when the mother is around three to four years of age.

    Conditions that may be confused with pregnancy include false pregnancy, mastitis (inflammation of the mammary glands), mammary gland neoplasia (cancer), abdominal enlargement due to fluid accumulation or organ enlargement, or pyometra (infection of the uterus).

    What to Watch For

  • Nesting behavior (attempting to make a nest by tearing up papers, blankets, etc.)
  • Mothering activity (this may include mothering of shoes, toys and other articles)
  • Weight gain (which typically occurs after the 4th week of pregnancy)
  • Abdominal enlargement or swelling
  • Mammary gland enlargement. The mammary glands may be large and secrete milk or serous fluid.
  • Abnormal behavior. If your dog does not eat, acts lethargic or you notice excessive vaginal discharge, please call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

    Diagnosis

    Your veterinarian may perform some diagnostic tests to confirm your dog's health and to determine if she is pregnant. These include:

  • A complete medical history and physical examination
  • Evaluating your dog's heat cycle and any potential breeding episodes
  • Abdominal palpation (technique of examining the organs and other parts of the body by touching and feeling). However, puppies can seldom be felt until at least 26 to 35 days after breeding and fetuses can be difficult to feel in some dogs.
  • Abdominal radiographs or x-rays. The skeleton of the puppy is visible on an X-ray after 45 days of pregnancy. They will also show other abnormalities, such as organ enlargement or abnormal fluid accumulation, are present.
  • Abdominal ultrasound can be used to diagnose pregnancy after 21 to 24 days post breeding. This is a safe and excellent way to diagnose pregnancy and verify the health of the puppies. Ultrasound can also be used to estimate litter size.

    Your veterinarian may recommend other diagnostic tests (not typically done with a normal pregnancy) on a case-by-case basis. Tests may include:

  • Blood work. Complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry (bloodwork to evaluate the function of the liver and kidneys). There are no practical blood or urine tests available to diagnose pregnancy in dogs.
  • Urinalysis
  • Heartworm checks (a good idea in all dogs not on prevention)

    Treatment

  • Normal pregnancy does not usually need any "treatment"; however, it is important to see your veterinarian for regular check-ups to ensure the health of your pet.
  • It is extremely important that your dog be cared for properly during the pregnancy.
  • If your decide that you do not wish to have further litters, or if your pet has significant problems during the birth process, you may wish to have her spayed to prevent further pregnancies.
  • Have your veterinarian recheck your dog one week before the due date. The doctor may then palpate for puppies and perform a pelvic exam to establish a rough estimate of pelvic canal size vs. puppy size to try to anticipate problems that might occur during whelping.

    Home Care

    Good nutrition is essential for healthy puppies and mothers so feed your pet a high-quality diet formulated for pregnant or nursing dogs.

  • Although nutritional needs change little during the first 4 weeks of gestation, your dog's nutritional needs nearly double during the last 5 weeks. Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet and/or vitamins for your dog.
  • Be sure to provide the increased amounts of food she needs in several small meals each day, rather than feeding it all at one time. It is particularly important to feed frequent small meals during the last part of gestation. A pregnant bitch may not feel like eating much as delivery nears because her abdomen is full of puppies, which leaves little room for the stomach to enlarge. Continue feeding a high-quality diet until after the puppies have been weaned.
  • Be sure that fresh water is always available, since pregnancy increases your pet's fluid needs.
  • A moderate amount of exercise is recommended during pregnancy; however, strenous exercise may be harmful. Short periods of gentle play and short walks are beneficial. After the pregnancy check at 26 to 35 days, you should begin exercising your pregnant pet five days a week for a half hour each time.
  • Controversial: Is early age neutering dangerous to cats?

    Maybe you have heard about it but some humane societies and shelters are doing what they call "early age neutering". This means spaying and castrating kittens as early as 6 weeks of age.

    There are several issues associated with this topic. First, is it safe? Do kittens have problems with the anesthetics? Do they recover okay? Does early neutering affect a kitten's health or growth?

    Let me address these questions now.

    First, is it safe? Research has found that very young puppies and kittens suffer from no more complication than older dogs and cats underlying neutering at traditional ages.

    Second, do they have problems with the anesthetics? Young kittens do very well with the anesthetics when giving appropriately.

    Do they recover okay? The younger pets actually recover earlier. Most kittens will be active and even playing within a few hours after their surgery. Older pets take longer to recover.

    How does this affect the pet population? It actually affects it in a good way. Many cats adopted from shelters are not neutered as they should be. Many of these cats go on to reproduce and send more pets to the shelter, many of which are ultimately euthanized.

    Does early neutering affect their health or growth? Many veterinarians have worried that early neutering would affect a cats growth, future obesity, and overall health. Research has found that most of these concerns are unfounded. The growth, a cat's weight and overall health were very similar in cats neutered early vs. neutered at a traditional age.