How to Take Care of Your Pregnant Shih Tzu
A female dog's pregnancy should be carefully monitored whether it is accidental or planned. It is the responsibility of the dog's owner to make sure both the dam and the puppies inside her womb are healthy.
First and foremost, the dam should be healthy. A month before ovulation, she should be de-wormed.
First Three Weeks
Physical signs of pregnancy are not visible during the first three weeks, but there are some early signs.
- Changes in behavior is noticeable though, but may vary by dog. Angel, my six-year old Shih Tzu gets more affectionate, and becomes lethargic and lazy. Daday, the younger dog, gets angry easily and gets very jealous when attention is not wholly given to her. Both dogs sleep progressively more during their pregnancies.
- Another sign that my dogs are pregnant is that they feel nauseated after ten or more days from the time they were studded. At this phase, hormonal changes are wreaking havoc inside their body.
- Vomiting occurs on some occasions and the dam usually loses their appetite, but after a day or two they should eat normally again.
I don't increase the amount of food given to the pregnant dogs at this stage. Their diet is a mixture 50% puppy food and 50% adult dog food for small breed, added with two to three pieces of boiled chicken liver or gizzard.
Four to Six Weeks into pregnancy
At this point, there are more physical signs of pregnancy:
- The shih tzus eat more than their usual ration.
- The abdomen looks full and distended.
- The fur around the nipples or the belly area gets thinner.
- The nipples are markedly full.
- Both of my dogs wanted to be petted all the time and are very affectionate. I had to give attention to each dog separately. Daday gets overly jealous and tends to attack Angel when I go near them.
I still walk the dogs but at a slower pace and shorter duration.
Bathing them requires careful handling. I use warm water, and I do it fast. I wash them once a week. Combing their fur is required every other day or every day if necessary.
Seven to Eight Weeks
- Angel is a big eater, so I have to control her food or else either she'll get too fat and have small puppies or the puppies will get too big and it will be hard for her to give birth.
- Daday gets more aggressive as the days pass. She eats enough for her and the puppies, and she doesn't beg for more food.
- I normally feed the dogs twice a day, morning and evening only. During pregnancy, I added a noon-time meal. Their diet at this stage of pregnancy would include mixed dog food as stated above and small amounts of one of the following: ground pork, ground beef, chicken (meat, liver, or gizzard).
- I encourage you to walk your dogs until the day they give birth. This is to build strong muscles that will help them when whelping time comes.
- Usually the dam goes into labor for three to eight hours. The duration of whelping depends on the number of puppies she produces and how strong the contractions of the abdominal muscles are.
Last year, Angel, on her fifth litter, had seven puppies. It took her five hours of whelping. Daday on the other hand, had six puppies but it took her longer (six hours) to give birth to all her puppies.
Two or More Days Before Delivery
- The dams will keep on grooming themselves.
- They will start to look for a dark and secluded place where they can give birth.
- Angel and Daday have their own cage where I put them every night. When they are almost due, I put old clothes (mostly old cotton shirts) in their cage.
- On the day they give birth, they don't eat or drink water. When this happens, I know it's a matter of hours before they start whelping.