If you have pets you might consider breeding them at some point. This should never be entered lightly or on a whim. If you do find yourself caring for a pregnant pet you need to know a few things so the pregnancy goes well.
First let me begin by saying that nobody should not allow a pet to become pregnant unless they can meet a few qualifications first. There are far too many animals euthanized simply because so many are born every year. So I have included a list of seven things an owner should cover before considering breeding any animal.
- The pet should be of breeding age.
- The pet should have attended shows to prove its worth as a breeding animal.
- The pet (particularly cats and dogs) should be tested by a vet against any genetic health concerns, usually this is eyes, ears, and hips.
- You should have buyers lined up to buy any offspring, and you must be willing to take any pets back if they do not work out in their new home.
- You should have sufficient money to pay for any medical needs if there is an emergency.
- You should be stable in your life, so that the pet has a comfortable place to have its young.
- You should research a mate, accepting only the best of the same breed. This would be an animal who has also attended shows to prove their worth as a breeding animal.
Gestation is the time between conception and Birth, it varies in different pets. A differences of more than a few days is reason to call a veterinarian.
- Dogs – 62-65 Days, smaller breeds have smaller litters and more complications. Dogs should not be bred before 18 months of age.
- Cats – 61-64 Days, with an average litter of 4-5 kittens. Cats should not be bred before 14 months of age.
- Rabbits – 28-31 Days with the average litter of 3-5 kits. Rabbits should not be bred until five months of age.
- Guinea Pigs – 63-68 Days with an average litter of 2-3 piglets. Guinea Pigs should not be bred until five months of age.
- Hamster -15-16 Days with an average litter of 3-5 pups. Hamsters should not be bred until 20 weeks of age.
- Horses – 11 months with an average birth of 1 foal. Horses should not be bred until 4 years of age.
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Care of the Mom
Talk to your vet about requirements for vaccinations in your area and make sure the mother is attended to and up to date prior to breeding. After breeding mark your calender right away with the expected due date.
Establish a feeding program for your pet. With most they will gain weight, but you do not want them to get “fat”. Pregnant dogs can be fed puppy food, and cats can be fed kitten food. This gives them more protein and energy. In the week prior to delivery it is especially important as it helps them produce enough milk. If you are feeding only dry food, make sure you start feeding them some canned food 2-4 times a day, small amounts, but frequent. Horses might get extra feed too. Caged animals should be on a good diet as well as given plenty of washed fresh vegetables.
Horses may be ridden right up to the date of foaling, but most people stop riding them a few months before hand. Certainly it is advisable to keep them in shape, but not to overexert them, especially in the final three months.
Do not take your pet anywhere that it might catch any diseases. This is especially important for dog owners to note. A dog can be vaccinated against Parvo, but can still catch it, or bring it home as a virus on its paws. Parvo virus can live for months, so the pups could easily get it after they are born. So take mom dog on walks in areas other than large Dog Parks.
As that date approaches monitor your pet regularly for any indication of premature delivery. With the larger animals, cats, dogs, and horses, you need to find a place for her to have her young. With dogs this is traditionally a Whelping Pen, with cats it is often a box with the sides cut short, with horses it is often a larger “foaling stall”.
The animal should be kept in the room where they are to give birth for a few days prior just to get them familiar with the area. With cats especially it is important NOT to let them outdoors in the day before delivery, in case they go missing or give birth outside. For the cats, this room should have their litter, food, and water, a complete living arrangement that they are not to leave, until the kittens are weaned.
Small caged animals should have their cage in a quite, warm, part of the house. This move should be done in advance of the birth, as some animals are sensitive to their surroundings. Any other pets should be removed from the cage so the pregnant one is alone in the final days.
Have your veterinarians phone number handy, research the normal delivery process of your pet. It is always tempting to help, but when the time comes, it is best to stay back and let the mom do the work unless there are problems.
Overall better care of the mother throughout her pregnancy will help ensure an easier delivery, and a healthier litter, or baby.