Preventive care such as vaccines and parasite prevention are critically important for the health and well being of both mom and puppies. Before breeding, make sure your dog is up to date on all of her vaccines, tests, and parasite prevention.
Vaccinations should be up to date prior to pregnancy. During pregnancy, modified live vaccines cannot be given. Vaccination of the bitch creates protective proteins which are passed to the pups through the mild in the first 48 hours of life. Without these, the pups are at increased risk of infection. These pups should be strictly quarantined from other dogs, and their vaccinations need to start earlier than pups whose mother had good immunity. If there is any question, vaccine titers can be measured.
Similarly, parasite control should be in place prior to pregnancy to reduce risk of transmission to the pups. Test for heartwom disease and keep on a monthly heartworm preventive. We recommend Sentinel, as it also helps to control roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and prevents flea eggs from hatching.
Roundworms: The canine roundworm has a dormant stage that exists within the muscle tissue of the adult dog. During pregnancy, these immature worms reactivate and cross the placenta to infect the pups. This happens even if the bitch tests negative for roundworms on fecal tests.
Hookworms: Hookworms can also be transmitted across the placenta. If she is at high risk for a heavy parasite load, mom can be treated with a dewormer called fenbendazole from day 40 of gestation to two weeks after whelping, to reduce the transmission to the pups. Otherwise, maintaining monthly Sentinel is usually sufficient. The pups should be dewormed for roundworms and hookworms at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age, and monthly thereafter, regardless of the preventives used for the bitch.
Fleas: Ensuring excellent flea control prior to pregnancy is the best method of prevention. Sentinel can be used during pregnancy. All other animals in the household should have a topical preventive. There are no topical products currently labeled as safe for use during pregnancy and lactation. However check with your veterinarian to see if there are any newer products that can be safely used. Avoid areas known to have a high risk of tick exposure, and check daily for ticks.
Exposure to Other Dogs
Any dog that the bitch routinely associated with prior to pregnancy is probably safe for her to continue to be with, unless the dog has recent exposure to dogs outside the family group. Places with many strange dogs, such as shows, events, and dog parks, are not recommended due to the risk of exposure to infectious diseases and parasites. She should be completely isolated from contact with unfamiliar dogs during the last three weeks of pregnancy and the first three weeks after whelping to reduce the risk of infection with canine herpes virus (see the section on Canine Herpes Virus for more details).
Next: Labor & Delivery