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Pregnancy

Shih Tzu Pregnancy

Overview

Whether your Shih Tzu is already pregnant or you wish to breed her, you will want to gather as much Shih Tzu pregnancy information as possible.

Since a dog's pregnancy cycle is so much shorter than a human's, it is important to recognize the first signs that puppies are on the way. 

Caring for your dog and preparing for the big day are vital for the health of the mother Shih Tzu and soon-to-come puppies.
litter of Shih Tzu puppies
What's cuter than a bundle of puppies!
The Signs of Shih Tzu Pregnancy
  • Usually before any physical changes, your dog will show a change in behaviorDifferent than some breeds, the Shih Tzu female often shows a marked change, such as a turn from active to calm or visa-versa. Nesting instincts may quickly develop.
There are also physical changes:
  • Her nipples will become larger and harder. Those that have been pregnant before may droop a bit.
  • Her vulva will become and remain swollen.
  • Her belly will quickly become swollen - this is usually obvious by week 4
How Long Will My Shih Tzu Be Pregnant?

The Shih Tzu gestation period is between 58 and 70 days, with 63 days being the average. All canines carry for approximately 9 weeks. It is possible for a dam to have a premature delivery, just like humans or to have to have to have labor induced if it does not comes naturally; however this is rare. This time moves by quickly; therefore at the first signs, steps must be taken to keep your dog healthy and happy.

How Do I Prepare?

This will be a joint effort between you and your dog's veterinarian. Your Shih Tzu should be doted on more than usual. For this period of time, your dog should be treated like a princess and great care taken to provide her with all she needs for the upcoming birth of her puppies.

Proper food is important now, more than ever! Because manufactured dog food formulated for puppies has a high content of fat and vitamins to spur growth, this is recommended if you do not choose the best option of home cooking. If your dog won't tolerate a change in dog food, be sure to provide plenty of her regular food, along with a full vitamin supplement and healthy snacks. 90% of all Shih Tzu females will have a higher appetite when expecting; it will be your job to make sure her cravings are met.
Activity

During the first 2 weeks, all may remain the same. However from week 3 to week 9, activity should be cut back. While still providing an outlet for bursts of energy, you should allow your Shih Tzu to go for walks with you. However, any jumping or rough-housing should be strictly prohibited.

Vet Checkups

You will want to bring your Shih Tzu to her regular veterinarian at the first sign of possible pups on the way! Most vets will then have you bring her in once a week. By week 4, an experienced vet will be able to feel how many puppies are growing inside your dog's belly simply by touch. Many veterinarians will also perform at least 1 ultra sound or x-ray toward the end of the pregnancy; it is vital to know if the hips of your Shih Tzu will allow for a natural birth.  Bones become calcified by week 6 and it is at that time that the x-ray will show exactly how many fetuses are growing.

How Many Puppies Should I Expect?

Some small breed toy dogs only have 1 to 3 puppies. The Shih Tzu, while a toy breed dog, has a relatively larger litter. The average litter of the Shih Tzu is 3 with a range of 1 to 5 being considered normal; however some cases a Shih Tzu may have an even larger litter. Of course, a larger litter means a closer eye on the health of the growing puppies and continual regularly scheduled monitoring of their heartbeats.
Where Should My Shih Tzu Give Birth?

This should be discussed as soon as possible with your dog's veterinarian. Birthing is not typically done at the vet's office; though a good vet will be involved and just a phone call away. Your veterinarian may know of dog owners who have great experience with this and would be willing to come to your home to aid.

If it is determined that a Cesarean section must be performed, of course this will be done at an animal hospital. C-sections are planned when it has been determined that the dam's pelvic size simply will not accommodate birthing....Or if possible complications are possible such unusual positioning of the fetuses. 

Preparing For a Home Birth

If you have decided to be in charge or assist your pregnant Shih Tzu with the assistance of others, be sure to prepare. The last thing you will want is to have to run out for supplies during this exciting and adrenaline rushing time! Your Shih Tzu will need a very quiet area, usually beginning at week 2. 

She will need a place to retreat to rest, as she will tire more easily as the weeks go by. It is suggested to create an area that not only will serve as her retreat during the 9 weeks, but also will be the area in which your dog will give birth. Therefore, she will feel comfortable with this area.

Being able to give your Shih Tzu her own room, such as a secondary bathroom is optimal. Put a clean cardboard box in the room. The box will serve as the Whelping Box. Your dog will need to feel safe and secure when giving birth to her puppies. The box allows her to feel the safety of an enclosed area and it will help you contain the mess from fluids and other elements. 

The following is a list of all supplies needed for helping your Shih Tzu deliver:
  • Clean sheets and towels
  • Plastic sheets, akin to the plastic sheets put down for painting a room
  • A thermometer
  • A plastic syringe
  • Thread
  • A heating pad
  • A small dropper
  • Clean newspaper - a large supply
When Will Labor Begin?

When a dog's temperature drops, labor will begin. Her normal temperature is 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.33 Celsius). A drop of approximately 2 degrees is the signal that you must gently move her to the whelping box if she is not already there.

What Will Happen?

As the contractions become stronger, the dam may appear restless and/or whine. She will then push out one pup at a time. Just about 50% of all puppies are born feet first; so this need not be a concern. Each puppy is born surrounded by his/her own amniotic sac. More often than not, the dam will tear away the surrounding sac with her teeth and lick the pup clean. When she licks her puppy, it stimulates blood flow and causes the pup to breath. 

If she does not do this, you must! Gently rub the pups body and use the bulb syringe to clean out the mouth and nose of fluids. She will also bite off the umbilical cord; if not, this is where the thread will come in. You must tie the beginnings of a knot carefully around the cord, about 2 inches from the body of the puppy.

Then in a swift motion, pull each end of the thread which will cut the cord. The part that remains on the pup will dry out and fall off within a week or two. If she rejects the pups, a rare possibility, put a heating pad under some sheets to provide warmth without risk of burns and use a dropper to feed the pups. You will use canine milk replacer and not 'real' milk. In the majority of cases, the puppies will only need to you carefully guide them to the dam's milk.

Do not be shocked when she most likely eats the sac, placenta and other elements that are expelled. As regal as the Shih Tzu is, pure animal instinct is at play during this time and this is normal and accepted behavior. 

Many people wonder if a dog feels pain or to what degree. While one can only theorize as to the extent, it will be clear that the dog will be experiencing pain. Many dogs will cry; do keep in mind that many female humans choose to "go natural" and your dog will be fine. Do have your vet on standby in case she appears to be in extreme duress. Reasons to call the vet include: Excess bleeding, raised temperature, if a puppy becomes stuck and/or if you've been told how many puppies to expect and that number has not been pushed out.

Of course, after the birthing process, she will need plenty of rest and TLC.
More Information

The female Tzu has many health issues that are not often talked about. Since professional breeders deal with many of these issues, as they arise during the breeding process, owners cannot find information about these topics. There are also issues that an owner must be aware of because time if of the essence! Did you know that there is a female disease in which you only have hours to notice symptoms and react? Learn about breeding your Tzu, (information that most breeders keep to themselves). See how you can learn about this and more much... in the AllShihTzu book. Now in both print & eBook.
Animal Communicator & Animal Reiki for Dogs - Animal Communicator Helps Dog Behavior Issues - stops fighting, peeing, barking, aggression, self mutilation, ocd behaviors and more. Find why your dog does the behavior, negotiate change. Help with health, feeding problems, end-of-life, terminal illness and pet loss grief support. Email and phone sessions for anywhere in the world.
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