I found exercise for a pregnant dog to be the most important pre-whelping task. A regular routine of daily walks helps to keep her muscles toned, ensuring she has the strength to give birth to her babies safely. She needs to be as fit as possible so she recovers quickly from the experience.
If the pregnancy is not planned, don’t worry, you still have 9 weeks to get her ready.
The benefits are simple. If she is fit and healthy, she will be able to give birth to her puppies easily and unassisted. If not, she can become fatigued, extending the birthing process and putting the pup’s lives in danger.
Once the puppies enter the birth canal, there is a limited time to complete the delivery. They can either drown inside the sack or suffocate from lack of air if they don’t emerge in a timely manner.
This will most likely result in a cesarean.
Not only is a cesarean hard on the female, anesthetic, stitches and recovery time while trying to feed and nurture her puppies, but it is also very costly. They almost always give birth on a weekend or after normal vet hours, inciting a hefty fee.
The best way to avoid these problems altogether is regular exercise and her being fit.
Gentle Exercise At First
When she first gets pregnant, light exercise is best. Short, slow walks for the first couple of days will ensure the sperm has a good chance to fertilize the eggs without the chance of miscarriage. Jumping or strenuous activity is not advised for a pregnant female. The puppies can get hurt or even be stillborn.
However, some dogs are very lively and will exercise vigorously regardless of what you do to slow them down. Just do the best you can and trust that her body knows what she is and isn’t capable of.
Once she is coping with the level of activity, you can begin slowly increasing the distance. A little bit further each day until you find a distance you are comfortable with.
It is important to take care when you walk a pregnant dog, let her set the pace. If she is panting a lot, lethargic or walking very slowly, reduce the distance and build up again when she is in better shape.
You will have 63 days to get her fitness levels up, so keep a close eye on her and don’t push her too hard.
Small dogs will need less exercise than larger dogs, so match the distance and level of intensity to the individual dog.
The goal is to get her as fit as she needs to be, not turn her into a marathon runner.
Our girl Piper is a 72-pound medium size dog and I found walking her 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) a day to be a safe distance. Once she dramatically increased in size (she ended up becoming huge) I cut her back to 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) a day.
Pups can be heavy and they add extra strain to the dog’s body.
By watching her closely and knowing the signs of fatigue, you will know when to cut back. What I didn’t know at the time was that she was carrying 14 beautiful babies.
In the last week, we walked around the block each day which was half a mile (800m). 3 days before the birth I reduced the distance to the end of the street and back (a quarter-mile, 400m).
The day before the birth, I cut that in half and on the day of the birth, didn’t walk her at all.
Every dog is different, but by keeping a close watch on her you will know her limits.
It is vital to keep exercising her right up to the birth. A whelping calendar can help you keep track of her dates.
Avoid walking at the local Dog park as soon as she becomes pregnant
As soon as your dog conceives, stop taking her to the local dog park. Walk her on the sidewalk for the duration of her pregnancy.
The reason for this is not all owners vaccinate or worm their dogs regularly and you don’t want her getting sick.
To be extra vigilant you can wash her feet after each walk. This will ensure she doesn’t bring any germs inside the house or into the whelping area.
I performed this task every time. It only takes a minute to hose her feet and the peace of mind you will have makes it worthwhile.
When To Stop Exercising A Pregnant Dog
Stop exercising your pregnant dog a day or two before she gives birth. Encourage her to continue walking for as long as possible, but keep in mind carrying puppies is a taxing ordeal. Stop once she has had enough. She will let you know when she wants to rest and prepare for the whelping.
Once the puppies are born, don’t exercise her or take her outside the property for the next 8-9 weeks. Not only will she need all her strength, but this will invite illnesses she may catch and can’t fight against.
Puppies have no immune systems when they are born. They rely solely on their mother’s milk to keep them healthy. Even associating with other dogs/s on the property can have disastrous effects. The other dog/s can pick up germs on their walk and bring them home to the mother and pups.
It is unpleasant keeping her separated from the other furry family members but it is only for a small length of time. The risks outweigh the benefits.
Begin Exercising her Again Once The Puppies Have Gone To Their New Homes
Once the pups have been weaned and have gone to their new homes, it is important to begin exercising her again as soon as possible. Regular short walks, to begin with, increasing in distance and intensity as time goes on.
Not only is it best for her mental well being (her life has changed dramatically in a short amount of time) but also for her physical health.
Getting her pre-baby body back can help her fight any germs she might contract in the weeks ahead, preventing it from becoming a full-blown illness.
With her putting everything into growing, feeding and nurturing her babies, it can result in a compromised immune system.
She may have difficulty settling back into her normal life, so regular walks and returning to normal routines can really help.
Can I walk my pregnant dog?
Yes. Walking your pregnant dog regularly is extremely important. She needs to maintain muscle tone to aid in a safe delivery by preventing fatigue.
How often should I exercise my pregnant dog?
Every day. Maintaining muscle tone through regular exercise for your pregnant dog will help to prevent birthing problems or a slow recovery.
Is strenuous exercise bad for my pregnant dog?
Yes. Strenuous exercise, running or jumping can hurt the puppies. Light exercise such as walking, over the coming weeks is the ideal activity for your pregnant dog.