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During these very uncertain times our pets have been a great source of comfort. Consequently we are seeing an increase in the number of puppies coming into the surgery and so also a lot of pregnant mums.

We are really proud to be able to offer whole of life care to the pets we look after, even starting before mum is pregnant.

We would advise making an appointment to have the bitch checked when you first consider breeding from her. The vet can perform an examination to check she is healthy and offer advice regarding certain testing for genetic diseases (e.g. kennel club schemes for hip and elbow scoring and eye testing). When the bitch is in season we can help predict the optimum time for mating using a progesterone blood test.

From 4 weeks of gestation we can confirm pregnancy using an ultrasound scan. We are not checking for numbers of puppies just confirming that she is pregnant and that there is more than a single foetus present. It is difficult to give accurate numbers on a scan due to the shape of a dog’s uterus.

Our nurses can then give you advice on how best to care for her during pregnancy, including important worming treatment. They can also give advice on what to expect and how to prepare for the birth.

Whilst we would love all pregnancies to go smoothly and mum to whelp naturally sometimes things don’t go to plan. We offer our own emergency on call service 24 hours a day so you can call us for advice or assistance if needed whatever the day or time.

Occasionally we have to step in and perform a caesarean. This may be an elective surgery because mum is at increased risk due to her breed or because she is pregnant with a single large puppy, or an emergency caesarean because of complications during labour. WE ONLY PROVIDE THIS SERVICE FOR ANIMALS UNDER OUR CARE. It is much safer for both mum and pups to undergo surgery with a vet who knows your pet, has access to her clinical notes and who is local.

In the case of an elective caesarean it is important to pick the right time for the operation. A progesterone blood test may help predict this as the hormones change in the last 48 hours of pregnancy.

Caesarean sections are major surgery and do carry a risk to both mum and any potential puppies. By providing care throughout the pregnancy we aim to predict and minimise any complications. They are also an expensive procedure (a caesarean for a medium sized dog in the middle of the night may cost approximately £1500). This would need payment at the time of the operation and is not covered on standard pet insurance policies. Aftercare is also another consideration. If mum can’t feed the puppies for some reason (e.g. mastitis) you will need to be able to bottle feed several hungry pups every 2-3 hours.

Any pregnancy is a big decision, whether in humans or in our pets. If after considering all the implications (risks, expense, and lack of sleep) you would like to go ahead please give the surgery a call and make an appointment to speak to one of our vets.