Congratulations – your Border collie is pregnant, but what’s next? Border collie pregnancies are relatively straightforward but there are some things you should be mindful of.
First things first, your Border collie must be the right age to cope with pregnancy, no younger than 2, and ideally at least 3. Border collies are notoriously ‘overbred’ and bitches are frequently bred too early, which undoubtedly shortens their lives.
You should also know whether your dog’s vaccinations are up to date before pregnancy. If you’ve been planning her pregnancy, you hopefully will have made sure your dog doesn’t have any genetic issues and that she’s perfectly healthy. Always take a pregnant dog to a vet, and where possible you should also try and visit the vet before mating too, to make sure she’s healthy enough for pregnancy. Dog pregnancies last anything from 58 to 68 days so be prepared for little Border collie puppies to appear fairly soon!
If you’re unsure whether your Border collie is pregnant, there are some common signs you should look out for but visit your vet for confirmation.
It’s best to get your Border collie to the vet to confirm that she is expecting. The vet will perform a pregnancy test (similar to a human test) or use ultrasound (from day 20). After a month of pregnancy, the vet should be able to physically examine your Border collie and count how many puppies are in her womb. This is just a “guestimate” and it might not be correct!
There’s no need to do anything differently with your Border collie. You should still walk her daily, feed her and groom her. She doesn’t need any additional supplements, unless your vet has specifically advised. There’s no need to up her food intake either, and on average, your Border collie shouldn’t put on more than 10% of her weight during pregnancy. If you notice unusual weight gain or sudden weight loss, take her to the vet. Avoid worming and flea treatments during pregnancy.
By week three, the puppy’s embryos are embedded in the uterus where they will develop and once you get to week four, return to the vet for a thorough pregnancy check-up. Your vet can perform an ultrasound which will give you an idea as to how many pups your Border collie is expecting. This ultrasound checks the health of the pregnancy too and is an opportunity to deal with any problems. Your vet will likely perform a blood test too to check hormone levels.
At this point in pregnancy, discourage your Border collie from any over-excitable activity; you can still exercise her, but nothing too strenuous.
Week five marks the second phase of pregnancy and the puppies become foetuses, when the organs begin to form, and each foetus increases in weight. Do not over-exercise your dog and keep her away from any over-excitable activity. During this phase, your Border collie should eat more and put on weight, up her diet slightly.
The final stage starts around week six. The foetuses start to resemble puppies and increase in size and weight. Your dog needs more food to cope with the rapid growth. It’s advisable to add more protein to her diet. It’s normal for your Border collie to seem less interested in food but this is due to discomfort rather than not feeling hungry. Adjust feeding times to small amounts during the day instead of two meals. Speak to your vet about adding a multivitamin to her diet.
At week seven, visit the vet for another pregnancy check-up to make sure the pregnancy is healthy. The vet will check for parasites which could affect the puppies when born.
Your Border collie will likely shed some hair from her belly; this is normal and just preparing for birth.
Week eight is when the puppies should be almost fully developed, and you might have another ultrasound at this stage, but it isn’t essential. It is useful to gain confirmation of how many pups your Border collie is expecting though.
Your Border collie should start to produce milk, and this is a great indication that birth is imminent – it usually follows approximately one week later. It’s a good idea to groom her gently, trim the area around her vulva and teats to make it easier for her during labour, birth and after when she’s feeding her pups.
The big week is usually around week nine. Your dog might seem irritable and anxious, this is normal, she is about to produce a litter!
If she’s calm, take her temperature because when her temperature drops by 1°C it is usually because labour is imminent (do not force her especially if she’s over-anxious).
Dogs usually handle labour well, but you should be on hand to offer support. When your dog goes into labour, she will likely look for a quiet, secluded place to retire to, this is one sign that birth is imminent, and you can help make her chosen place as comfortable as possible. Keep the area at around 30°C for the first 24 hours of labour, then drop it to 25°C for the new puppies as they cannot regulate their body temperature. Have plenty of newspaper handy and old towels as it will get messy!
Generally, Border collies give birth easily, so you shouldn’t need to get involved apart from being there for her. If you notice discoloured discharge or she’s straining to give birth with no reward, there could be complications so you should call the vet. Some dogs give birth in minutes, others take longer. Keep an eye on her and monitor stress levels, if she is over-stressed or obviously in difficulty, you should contact your vet immediately.
Following the first puppy, your Border collie should tear open the foetal sack, if she doesn’t, you can do this yourself. Do make sure the placenta is delivered too and never pull puppies out of your dog. If a puppy arrives still, gently rub it with a towel to warm it up.
Once your dog has finished giving birth, wash and remove all the towels/newspaper and replace it with clean bedding. You will need to replace it all very regularly. Clean your dog with a warm cloth but don’t clean the puppies. Allow your Border collie and puppies to rest but check up on them regularly.
Here are the things to look out for during labour/birth and post-natal:
Finally, if in doubt at any stage of pregnancy, always telephone your vet.
After giving birth to her pups, you may notice a change of attitude in your border bitch.They can become very possessive, snappy and jealous, particularly when you are showing the pups to potential buyers.
Happy pregnancy for your bitch!