Urine hormone tests cannot be used to diagnose canine pregnancy because, unlike women, all bitches produce progesterone, the hormone of pregnancy after they ovulate, regardless of whether they are pregnant or not. A physical exam, three to four weeks after mating remains the most common and effective method of pregnancy diagnosis. We feel a row of small golf balls in the belly. At this time the size of the litter can be reasonably determined in all but overweight or very large individuals. We also routinely use ultrasound to diagnose pregnancy
Medical Problems During Pregnancy
Failure to produce ytoung, after pregnancy has been confirmed, occurs for two reasons. The young have died and been resorbed or have died and been aborted, expelled from the womb.
Fetal resorption can occur as any time during the first six weeks of pregnancy. One or more die and their remains are broken down and as best possible removed by the white blood cell scavengers of the immune system. If this occurs early in pregnancy there are few if any clinical signs. The mother appears perfectly normal. Later in pregnancy, resorption produces so much waste for removal via the bloodstream that she becomes quiet and listless. Residue of remains may become infected, causing a fever, loss of appetite and a blood-tinged or purulent vaginal discharge. Oral antibiotics for several weeks are necessary.
Abortion occurs after fetuses die the womb and are discharged with their associated products. This is also called a miscarriage. Infection is the most common cause.
Take Precautions If Your Pet Is Pregnant
- No vaccinations during the first four weeks.
- No drugs unless absolutely necessary.
- No insecticides unless absolutely necessary.
- No herbs unless proven safe in petsa during pregnancy.
- Worming only with anthelmintics known to be safe and effective during pregnancy.
- No excessive energy demands.
- Don't project human values on your pet. She does not need a pregnancy to feel fulfilled.
Pregnancy And Birth
Left to their own, without our intervention, who mates with whom depends upon opportunity, familiarity and personal choice. As with most mammals males are sexual opportunists. “If it stands still, hump it.” is a universal evolutionary male mantra. Males will, of course, try to mate with females when they’re in season, when they “smell right”, but dogs in particular may also try to mate with females that have odour-producing urinary infections, females that simply stand still or with males that have been neutered and no longer have a strong male odour. In the absence of the real thing – another dog – male dogs may hump the kids, hump visitor’s legs, hump big stuffed toys or hump cushions. Tom cats have more dignity, restricting their sexual activity to females in season (usually).
Females control when they will mate but practically speaking, with purebred pets the breeder decides who her females will mate with. Females are more relaxed on their own turf so males are usually brought to females rather than the reverse. Experience is important. Males that have never mated before know what they want to do but often can’t work out a successful approach and need a helping hand from the breeder.
After mating, which is brief - there’s little foreplay - dogs get stuck or “tied” together, usually for 15 to 45 minutes. This physical locking together is caused by a balloon-like swelling that develops half way along the dog’s penis. (That swelling is also apparent when a dog simply gets excited and can be the reason a sexually aroused dog can’t withdraw her penis back into its sheath.) The male often swings a hind leg over her partner’s back so that they end up rump to rump but physically connected. This is an evolutionary adaptation inherited from the wolf. It prevents other males from mating with the receptive female while at the same time permitting both of them to fully defend themselves.
Female cats salaciously vocalize their availability to tom cats. Their moans, together with the way they drag themselves around close to the floor are so dramatic that cat owners unfamiliar with cats in season may think their cat has severe back pain. Mating itself is relatively short and may appear brutal. The female often screams when the male withdraws after mating. The tom cat’s penis is covered with barbs and this stimulation is necessary for the female to release her eggs and complete her ‘heat’. If mating doesn’t occur, another ‘heat’ cycle usually follows. Intact female cats that are not given the opportunity to mate may eventually experience almost unending heat cycles and permanent behaviour changes.