French Bulldog is a special dog breed that is selectively bred by humans and thus has several genetic defects and disorders. These conditions have caused the breed various health problems, even during pregnancy.
If you have a pregnant Frenchie, there are several things you must know to ensure a safe and sound pregnancy. This guide will teach you everything you want to know about caring for your pregnant French Bulldog, from diet to exercise.
How to Care for a Pregnant French Bulldog
The first step in preparing for your new French Bulldog puppies is ensuring that the mother dog is healthy and well-cared for during her pregnancy.
According to a peer-reviewed study about Canine gestation length, like other dog breeds, the gestation period of dogs can range from 57 to 72 days, with 65 days being the average. If you have recorded the date of the first mating, you can use this as a guide to when your puppies will be born. If you got your French Bulldog pregnant by artificial insemination, things would be easier to determine the day she will give birth.
When your french Bulldog is pregnant, she needs a special care plan to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Look for Pregnancy Symptoms
During the first few weeks of dog pregnancy, dogs experience morning sickness like humans. However, some dogs do not show any pregnancy symptoms at all. According to this WebMD's study, Signs Your Dog Is Pregnant, if your dog is pregnant, she might experience some or all of the following morning sickness symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Excessive drinking and urination.
- Pale gums
According to UCDavis Vet Med, it is normal for your dog to have a small pink to whitish mucoid discharge during the first few weeks of pregnancy. If you see her straining too much or have a greenish discharge, contact your vet immediately, as it may be due to a serious Canine Brucellosis.
Confirm the Frenchie pregnancy
According to AKC, you can confirm the pregnancy with an ultrasound or hormone test at about 25–to-30 days of gestation. At about 28 to 30 days, your vet can check the dog's belly and confirm how many puppies she carries. If your dog is pregnant, she should see her vet at least once during the pregnancy for a checkup and discuss care.
Switch the diet during the French Bulldog Pregnancy
A pregnant Frenchie needs a diet high in calories and nutrients to support her growing puppies. Most breeders recommend switching the regular diet to puppy food as soon as you confirm pregnancy because it is higher in calories, proteins, and other nutrients.
You should also start feeding your French Bulldog small meals more frequently to avoid bloat. Bloat is a serious condition when the stomach fills with gas and twists. This can be a life-threatening condition for both mother and puppies, so it's essential to avoid it.
Your French Bulldog's food intake may increase depending on how many puppies she has in her belly.
Give Exercise to Pregnant French Bulldogs
While moderate exercise is fine during French bulldog pregnancy, you should avoid strenuous activity. Over-exercising can cause problems such as premature labor or miscarriage if the dog gets injured, according to PDSA.
The best exercise for a pregnant Frenchie is a short walk around the block. You can also give her a small amount of playtime in the yard. Avoid letting her jump or run too much, as this can cause harm to the developing puppies.
Tip: If you want to take your pregnant dam on a long walk, you can opt for a pet stroller. These are The Best Quality Pet Strollers For Small Dogs.
Provide Health Care During French Bulldog Pregnancy
It's vital to keep your female Frenchie up-to-date on her vaccinations and to start heartworm and flea/tick prevention before her puppies are born. As stated in this scientific article, you should deworm your dog after 40 days of pregnancy and again after she gives birth.
Your vet can give you more information on how to care for your pregnant Frenchie and what vaccinations she needs.
How to Prepare Your Dog for Whelping
During the last few days of French bulldog pregnancy, your dog will start to "nest" by finding a quiet and secluded spot to build her nest. This is called "parturition preparation" or "whelping" and is a normal behavior in dogs.
You may notice that your pregnant dog starts to get restless, pant more than usual, and have a decreased appetite. This is normal as her body is preparing for labor.
Know the Dangers of Whelping
Unlike the previous trimester of the French bulldog pregnancy, the whelping period is very dangerous for both the Frenchie dam and the French bulldog puppies.
The most common dangers during whelping are Bleeding, Prolapse of the Uterus, and Uterine Torsion caused by Canine Dystocia, as stated in a study published in Vetfolio.
In addition to common dangers, your whelping mother will have a few other health concerns specific to French bulldogs.
Health Issues Endemic To Frenchies
Due to selective breeding, French bulldogs have a higher risk of several health problems. A study on French bulldogs and their disorders confirms several health issues that are common in Frenchies, such as stenotic nares (narrow nostrils), Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (a respiratory condition caused by a shortened, large head), aural discharge (ear discharge), skin fold dermatitis, and dystocia (slow or difficult labor or birth). You may not find these conditions in other dog breeds.
Because of these health risks, most veterinarians suggest C-sections for whelping Frenchies.
The Need For C-Section And Its Risks
Natural birth is uncommon in french bulldogs because of the above-mentioned health issues, but if your dog is lucky enough, you will have fewer complications.
Most of the time, C-Section must be performed to avoid birth defects or complications.
While C-section is a safe procedure, it's not without its risks.
The most common risks of C-section are (As stated in Anesthesia for cesarean section in the dog published by Lowa State University);
Although C-section is a safe procedure, there are always risks involved. It's essential to discuss with your veterinarian about the risks and benefits of a C-section before making a decision. Besides these risks, your French Bulldog may lose her maternal instincts and have trouble caring for her puppies.
You may have to give her medications to let her know that she has given birth, so she will start caring for them. Furthermore, you may use a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheremone) collar to address the issue of mother dogs not bonding with their pups.
Things Needed To Be Done Before Whelping
If you choose to have a natural birth, there are a few things you need to do to prepare for the big day.
First, you must check your French Bulldog's temperature twice a day. This should begin about a week before her due date.
A drop in temperature usually indicates that labor begins within the next 24-48 hours. When her temperature drops to 99 degrees, she is in labor. Regardless of how you plan to take out new puppies, there are things you'll need to have on hand.
You will need:
- A large, clean whelping box or pen
- Several old towels or rags
- Medical grade rubber gloves
- Sharp scissors (Must be clean when used)
- Iodine (to swab the umbilical cord)
- A heating pad (set on low) or a water bottle filled with warm water
- A digital thermometer
- A quiet, calm place for the mother and puppies to rest
- An emergency kit for the mother and puppies (include items such as gauze, syringes, and a bulb syringe)
- Some sort of timer or clock
- A box or basket to put the puppies in when they are born
- A supply of clean, fresh water
Keep a diary to track the birth dates and weights, as well as keep track of your veterinary surgeon's phone number and an emergency veterinarian hospital.
Tip: You can keep a small bed inside the whelping box so that your dog can rest in it comfortably until the puppies are born. We recommend The Best Small Dog Crate Pads listed on our sister site.
What To Expect
The First Stage of Labor – Prodromal
The first stage of labor is called the prodromal stage. This is when the mother's body is preparing for labor and delivery. During this stage, the mother's temperature will drop, and she may start nesting.
Nesting is when the mother dog starts looking for a place to have her puppies.
She may dig at her bedding or pace around the house. The mother may also seem restless and may not want to eat. During this stage, the mother may whine, pant, or pace. She may also vomit during this stage, as stated in TheSprucePets.
Active Labor Stage
The second stage of labor is called the active labor stage. The mother's contractions start, and she begins to push.
The contractions will become more frequent and stronger as labor progresses, as explained by the National Library Of Medicine.
The Third Stage of Labor – Delivery
The third and final stage of a dog's labor is called the delivery stage.
This is the last stage of French bulldog pregnancy and when the puppies are born.
The mother will push the puppies out one at a time through her vulva.
The whole birthing process can take anywhere from a few hours to a day.
Necessary: If your French Bulldog doesn't give birth to the first puppy within 3 hours of her water breaking (greenish-black vaginal discharge), or if she has more than 45 minutes between puppies, you should call your veterinarian, as suggested by Prenatal Care of the Bitch and Queen on NIH.
What to do After the Puppies are Born
The French bulldog mother will clean the puppies with her tongue and eat the placenta after birth. Do not stop her from eating the placenta, which provides her with essential nutrients.
It is also important not to touch the French bulldog puppies too much as this can spread infection. If you must handle the puppies, wash your hands thoroughly first.
The umbilical cord will still be attached to the puppy when it is born. The mother will bite through the cord and then lick the area to clean it off. If the cord is longer than 6 inches, you can tie it off with string and cut it.
Make sure you use clean scissors and disinfect the area with iodine. You can do it yourself if the mother doesn't seem to be doing all this.
The puppies should begin feeding soon after they are born. If not, you should stimulate them by rubbing their bellies with a towel. Once all the French bulldog puppies are born, ensure they are all nursing, and the mother cleans them off.
Tips and Warnings
Abnormal Maternal Behavior
A peer-reviewed study about Maternal behavior in domestic dogs published at the National Institutes of Health says that there are some abnormal maternal behaviors that you should look out for.
Some of these behaviors include:
- Aggression (to you, the father, other animals, or even her puppies)
- Pseudocyesis (False Pregnancy)
- Cannibalism (a condition where the mother eats her puppies)
- Pica (eating non-food items)
- Abandonment of the offspring
The primary reason for these abnormal behaviors is the low level of hormones, mainly oxytocin. So, the best action is to contact a vet if you notice any of these behaviors.
The French Bulldog is a beautiful dog breed that makes a great companion.
However, they require special care during pregnancy and after the puppies are born.
Following this guide can help ensure a healthy and happy pregnancy for your French Bulldog.
Questions and Answers
How will I know if my French Bulldog is pregnant?
A veterinary exam is the only way to know if your dog is pregnant. Your vet can confirm the pregnancy through palpation, blood tests, an ultrasound exam, or an x-ray. However, the blood test and the ultrasound exam should be done after day 30 of the pregnancy to be the most accurate. After about 32 days, the vet may not be able to check pregnancy by palpation because the amount of amniotic fluid increases after about one month. The vets will not x-ray your pregnant dog until day 52 for the safety of the puppies and the mother.
How long do French Bulldogs take to give birth?
The pregnancy period of French Bulldogs is about nine weeks or 63 days. However, a French bulldog's pregnancy can be as short as 58 days or as long as 72 days. The delivery process may take a few hours to a day.
Can a French bulldog give birth naturally?
French bulldogs have narrow hips, and French bulldog puppies have large heads. Because of this, many French bulldogs require a Cesarean section (C-section) to give birth. However, some French Bulldogs can give birth naturally.