Dogs are rather discreet about mating and pregnancy, and without careful observation, you may not realize you have a pregnant beagle on your hands until she is close to giving birth. If you suspect your beagle may be pregnant, have the diagnosis confirmed by your veterinarian. Early detection of a pregnancy not only helps ensure your beagle gets proper care but it will buy you enough time to prepare your home for a litter of puppies.
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Pregnant beagle signs
Canine gestation typically lasts about 63 days, and along the way, you might notice some common pregnant beagle signs. Pay attention to your pup's sleeping habits since a dog who appears to be more tired than usual could be carrying a litter. A pregnant beagle may also show signs of a greater appetite, a swollen belly, an increase in nipple size, and weight gain. An expectant dog may also experience mood swings — some days she'll seem more affectionate, and on others, she'll be more irritable.
Diagnosing a pregnant beagle
To determine whether you have a pregnant beagle at your house, head to the vet for one of four diagnostic tests. The first one your pet doc will try is likely to be trans-abdominal palpation, which means gently probing your dog's belly to feel for an enlarged uterus or fetal sacs. The vet can also draw blood to check for the hormone relaxin. Elevated levels of relaxin only occur if your dog definitely has pups on board.
Between days 25 and 35 of gestation, the vet can also perform an ultrasound to detect fetal heartbeats and estimate how many puppies your pregnant beagle is carrying. A puppy's heartbeats are two to three times faster than the mother's. An X-ray can also be ordered to confirm a canine pregnancy.
Care for your expectant dog
Ensuring the delivery of healthy puppies means taking good care of your pregnant beagle. To start, keep all of her regular appointments with the vet so she can be checked over and any complications can be noted early. Good nutrition is also key for expectant dogs, which means sticking to a quality dog food and maintaining the portions you've been feeding her during the first two-thirds of her pregnancy. Offering too much food in the first stages of canine pregnancy can actually be harmful.
Toward the end, however, you can up the amount you're feeding your dog gradually until she's taking in about 35 to 50 percent more of her usual meal size. Be sure to adhere to your dog's regular exercise schedule. A pregnant beagle can handle normal walks and playtime but just until her belly is outsized. At this point, ease off the exercise and stick to more frequent but shorter and less strenuous outings.
Get ready for puppies
Giving birth is the end stage for a pregnant beagle, of course, so laying in supplies ahead of time is wise. To start, find a large box or a plastic kiddie swimming pool for her labor and delivery. Line it with newspapers, old towels, or bathmats and then place it in a quiet part of the house in a spot that's not too drafty. Setting it up a few weeks before the puppies arrive allows your mama dog to get used to her birthing nest.
You'll also need clean, sterilized scissors to cut the umbilical cords if the mother dog doesn't take care of this task as well as paper towels to clean off the new puppies. Iodine is also handy so you can swab the pups' belly where the cord was severed. Finally, keep your vet's number close by and call if anything seems amiss during the delivery. Most dogs labor just fine on their own, but if the process slows to more than two hours between puppies or you notice there's a missing placenta (there should be one per puppy), make a call.