French Bulldog’s labor and delivery Whether you’re a breeder or you simply found yourself in the situation where your beloved pet has gotten pregnant, the process of dealing with the pregnancy and figuring out what to expect can be a bit scary. Either way, if your dog is pregnant then she’s about to go through an extremely traumatic ordeal and she’s going to need you by her side providing lots of love and support. Here are the basics of what you’ll need to know so that you aren’t caught off guard.
How to tell if your French Bulldog is pregnant
There are a few signs to keep an eye out for that might help you to identify whether or not your Frenchie is pregnant, although it may be tricky since shifting hormones can bring about behavioural changes that range from one extreme to the other. Doggie morning sickness will mean that your pregnant pooch could have a loss of appetite and begin to occasionally throw up. Alternatively she might start eating more than normal, and there’s a chance that she will become a bit picky about her food. It’s likely that your Frenchie will have a lack of energy and you’ll probably notice her sleeping more than usual. This will be more difficult to recognize if she’s the type of dog who lazes around a lot of the time in general. If so, you might rather want to look out for how quickly she gets tired when walking as an indication that she could be pregnant. She might start acting strange and break away from the typical daily routines. It’s possible that she’ll look for more attention than normal. She might follow you around or sit at your side more than what you’d expect from her usually. But again, changing hormones can have a wide range of effects and instead she may spend more time by herself and appear agitated if she gets too much attention. There are other physical signs to be aware of as well. A dog’s nipples will get bigger than usual if she’s pregnant. The area around the nipples (areolas) should swell a bit and could also become a darker shade of red than usual. You can also expect your Frenchie to gain a bit of weight particularly around the stomach region, but this typically only takes place once she’s well into the pregnancy already. Towards the end of her pregnancy your dog is likely to show nesting traits. She might shift her bed around to make a more suitable nest-like environment for the pups to come, and she will probably become very grumpy and try to isolate herself. By this stage you hopefully would have noticed the odd behaviour and paid your veterinarian a visit. Although these signs can be helpful in identifying if your dog is pregnant, the closest way to knowing for sure is to do an ultrasound.
How long is the French Bulldog’s pregnancy and how many puppies can you expect?
Pregnancy in dogs can last usually between 56 and 70 days, with the French Bulldog normally carrying for roughly 63 days. With that being said, most Frenchies don’t give birth naturally due to their extra narrow hips. This means that a caesarean section will be performed which is how the majority (around 80%) of French Bulldog deliveries occur. You’ll probably end up with a litter of 3 to 5 Frenchie pups. It’s highly uncommon to have a single French Bulldog litter of more than 5 or 6 puppies.
Delivery and potential problems to look out for
Make sure you have a clean box prepared for the puppies’ delivery. Fill the box with newspapers and have clean towels ready for when you need to clean up. You’ll also want to sterilize a pair of scissors so you can sever the umbilical cord, unwaxed dental floss so you can tie up the cord afterwards, iodine to clean off the pups tummies once the umbilical cord is cut, and heated water bottles or something similar wrapped in clean towels to make sure the new-borns stay warm. Your Frenchie is likely to be very irritable as the labor stage approaches. In addition to a loss of appetite, it’s not unusual for dogs in this stage to repetitively lick their genital area. Once the contractions begin, you can expect her water to break soon after. If your Frenchie has been experiencing contractions for roughly 2 hours and her water still hasn’t broken then you will need to speak to your vet to advise you on what steps to take next. Be sure to have your vet’s number on hand in case you need their help. Many dogs can battle during the birthing process (whelping). When a dog is having problems giving birth, it is referred to as dystocia. Unfortunately brachycephalic breeds are more susceptible to suffer from dystocia, and French Bulldogs in particular are at the top of the list being almost 16 times more probable to have complications than regular breeds. If the duration of labor exceeds 24 hours or if it has been more than 2 hours between pups being born, you should get in touch with a vet as soon as possible. There are a number of issues that your dog could face, such as the size of the unborn pup as well as where it is in the birth canal. The mother could also have weak contractions, an infected uterus, and pelvic abnormalities in addition to many other potential problems. You also need to be sure that the pups are being delivered in the right position. Typically they will arrive head first, but it could spell trouble if the pup is coming out tail first. This is known as the breech position and although you can continue the delivery without any aid, complications in this situation are not uncommon so you might want to contact a vet just to be safe. If you’re in the middle of delivery and you find yourself needing the vet’s assistance, bring whatever pups that have been born with you in a clean box separate from the mother, and bring your heated water bottles with too so the pups are kept warm. If a pup is on its way out but is not being delivered properly despite the mother’s efforts, you can use a clean towel or cloth and very carefully grab hold of the puppy and try to help it out by pulling slowly at roughly a 45 degree angle to the ground. If the pup isn’t coming out or if it seems to be hurting the mother, stop and speak to your vet as soon as you can!
Feeding your pregnant Frenchie
Giving your expecting canine the right amount of food is important for her and her babies. An all life stage dog food should be perfectly fine but you may want to tweak how much you give her. If the mother-to-be easily puts on more weight than she should in general then be careful with how much you give her, otherwise she should be able to eat as much as she likes. On the other hand, she could become fussy about her food in which case you can try adding a bit of moisture to her meals to encourage her to eat. Also be sure to have fresh water readily available for her at all times. 6 weeks into the pregnancy, your dog’s feeding schedule shouldn’t really change all that much, but by the 7th week you should add an extra 25% to her regular amount of food so she can maintain the energy she needs. After the pups are born around week 9, continue to provide the mother with sufficient amounts of food so she can replace the energy burnt up during the birthing process. For the following month, the new mom will be dealing with nursing pups so she will probably want to eat between 2 to 4 times more than the normal amount she was eating before her pregnancy. When the pups start to eat from the mother’s food bowl, you can start trying to wean them off their mother’s milk and bring solid food into their diet. By the time the pups are 8 weeks old, they should be moving on to puppy food rather than their mother’s milk. To help stop mom from making milk, reduce the amount of food that you’re giving her. One day give her nothing but water, the next day give her a quarter of her regular diet before the pregnancy, the next day you can move up to half, then three quarters, and then she should be back to her normal feeding routine.
It’s best to seek the help of a veterinarian or at least a professional breeder to assist you with your dog’s pregnancy, but if you insist on handling it yourself, make sure to do all the research you can beforehand so you can be as prepared as possible. If you plan to deliver at home, it will help a lot to consult a vet and gain as much knowledge on the subject as you can so that you and your dog get through a safe and relatively pain-free pregnancy together.