Caring for a pregnant English bulldog is a little different than caring for other pregnant canines. With other dogs, you'd take the temperature morning and night, waiting for the temperature drop indicating birth is imminent. But as a bulldog's due date draws near, you aren't waiting for signs of incipient delivery. With an English bulldog, you take the expectant mother to a veterinarian for a scheduled Caesarean section.
The Bulldog Club of America makes no bones about breeding. It states that a bulldog should not be bred before reaching the age of 1.5 years, nor after the age of 5 unless a vet clears her health. Most female bulldogs should not have more than three pregnancies in their lifetimes. Pregnancy takes a toll on the bodies of all dogs, but perhaps none so much as the English bulldog.
For the first month of pregnancy, feed your dog normally. That's assuming you are already feeding her a high-quality dog food. At about five weeks, transition her to a higher calorie food. A good puppy food usually fills the bill.
As she gets closer to her due date, she'll require higher amounts of food. Your vet can recommend the correct amount of food for your dog at the latter stages of pregnancy. Because cleft palates are a common birth defect in bulldog puppies, your vet might suggest supplementing your dog with 1 ounce of liver daily, which may prevent cleft palate and aids fetal development.
Provide a quiet place for your bulldog to relax as she reaches the later stage of her pregnancy, away from the household hustle-bustle. Bulldogs are fairly sedentary creatures, so you probably won't have to cut back on her exercise too much until she's quite well along in the pregnancy. About a week before her due date, she may display nesting behavior. Give her old blankets or similar items for her to make a birthing place. She won't know she isn't going to use it to have her babies.
The Need for a C-Section
Very few bulldogs can give birth naturally, and if you want to try, have a veterinarian on hand so that an emergency C-section is possible. English bulldogs have trouble with natural whelping because of the disproportionate size of the fetuses' heads and the mother's pelvis. Only attempt to allow a bulldog to give birth naturally if your vet has X-rayed the expectant dog's pelvis and agrees that a natural birth is feasible. Otherwise, you will put your bulldog through a great deal of pain. and risk losing her and the puppies.
Generally, your vet will schedule the C-section for 60 days after the last breeding, whether that was natural or via artificial insemination. The latter is the most common breeding method in the English bulldog. Your vet will examine your dog a week before the surgery date and also perform any necessary pre-operative testing. If your dog goes into labor prior to her scheduled delivery date, call your vet. She will give you instructions to either take your dog to her facility or to an emergency animal hospital.
- MSPCA: An English Bulldog's Emergency Caesarian
- Universities Federation for Animal Welfare: Dystocia Due to Foetal-Pelvic Disproportion
- Bulldog DVM: Breeding Bulldogs and Raising Bulldog Pups
- Michigan State University Veterinary Medical Center: Care and Feeding for Your Pregnant or Nursing Dog
- Bulldog Club of America: Before You Breed