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Frequently Asked Questions -
Breeding and Reproduction

When will my dog come into heat?
When should I breed my dog?
When will my cat come into heat? What are the signs?
How long will she be pregnant? (dogs and cats)
What do I need to do during pregnancy and whelping?

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When will my dog come into heat?

Dogs typically come into heat between 6 and 8 months of age, and then approximately every 6 months thereafter until they are spayed. Male dogs do not come into heat, they are sexually active all the time.

The heat period typically lasts about 20 days. For the first 10 days the vulva will be swollen and there will be bloody discharge, but she will not accept a male. During the second half of the heat period she will be receptive to males, and the discharge may decrease slightly. The duration of heat can vary quite a bit, from a maximum of 30 days, to a very short or even unobserved heat in young dogs.

The period of maximum fertility occurs a few days past the middle of the heat period. Because this point can be very difficult to determine it is recommended that the bitch be taken to the male every other day beginning after the 5th day of heat until at least 2 matings have taken place. Examination under the microscope of the changes occurring in cells from the vaginal wall can help pinpoint the time of maximum fertility. This may require examining cells several times to detect the changes.

It is not recommended that a female be bred at her first heat because she is typically still growing herself, and this can be hard on her system. Many breeders choose to skip the first 2 heats and breed on the third to insure that the female is mature enough.

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When should I breed my dog?

The period of maximum fertility occurs a few days past the middle of the heat period. Because this point can be very difficult to determine it is recommended that the bitch be taken to the male every other day beginning after the 5th day of heat until at least 2 matings have taken place. Examination under the microscope of the changes occurring in cells from the vaginal wall can help pinpoint the time of maximum fertility. This may require examining cells several times to detect the changes.

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When will my cat come into heat? What are the signs

Cats typically have their first heat period between 6 and 8 months of age (earlier in the spring and later in the fall).

Unlike dogs, cats do not have regular periods of heat twice a year. Instead they will go in and out of heat until they mate. These irregular heat periods can last from a few days to a week or two, with similar periods of time in between.

Cats do not usually have much swelling or discharge in the vaginal area. The signs of heat are primarily unusual yowling and crying, rolling on the floor and crouching down with the hips in the air.

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How long will she be pregnant? (dogs and cats)

Pregnancy in both dogs and cats lasts on average 63 days (9 weeks). Pregnancy is not usually detectable by feeling the abdomen until around 30 days. Biochemical tests are generally accurate around 20 days, and ultrasound can often detect even earlier pregnancies.

Beginning around halfway through the pregnancy the mother-to-be should be examined for any problems and started on a diet that is higher in protein and calories than regular maintenance diets. Typically we recommend a premium puppy diet such as those made by IVD/Royal Canine, Science Diet or Eukanuba.

The number of calories that a pregnant dog or cat needs continues to increase until the puppies or kittens are 3 weeks of age, at which time she may need three times her usual number of calories. In some cases it is necessary to start adding small amounts of cooking oil to the diet to get enough calories into her. This must be done cautiously, starting with small amounts to avoid causing diarrhea.

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What do I need to do during pregnancy and whelping?

Beginning around halfway through the pregnancy the mother-to-be should be examined for any problems and started on a diet that is higher in protein and calories than regular maintenance diets. Typically we recommend a premium puppy diet such as those made by IVD/Royal Canin, Science Diet or Eukanuba.

The number of calories that a pregnant dog or cat needs continues to increase until the puppies or kittens are 3 weeks of age, at which time she may need three times her usual number of calories. In some cases it is necessary to start adding small amounts of cooking oil to the diet to get enough calories into her. This must be done cautiously, starting with small amounts to avoid causing diarrhea.

It is important that pregnant mothers NOT be supplemented with calcium as it will impair their ability to mobilize calcium from the bones when they start lactating, with a resulting low blood calcium which can lead to muscles tremors and seizures.

Taking a rectal temperature at the same time each day can help predict the day of whelping, as the temperature will usually drop 1 degree about 24 hours before whelping begins.

Once the mother starts to give birth do not intervene unless she is slow to remove the sac from the pup or kittens head, in which case it is advisable to break the sac so the pup can breathe, and gently place it in front of Mom so that by cleaning it she can establish the bond between them.

 

 

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