Just like humans, English bulldogs require special care when pregnant. Since they have narrow birth canals, they must be prepared in case of any complications. That means you must be vigilant during all stages of pregnancy, so your English bulldog can have a healthy delivery.
So, how do you take care of your pregnant English bulldog? Here are the simple steps:
- Confirm that your bulldog is pregnant.
- Provide their regular diet, mild exercise, and increased affection during the first four weeks.
- In the 5th-week, start to increase the quantity of food steadily.
- As the 6th-week starts, help your English bulldog adapt to the changes in her body.
- In the 9th-week, check for the signs of labor by measuring her body temperature frequently.
- Call your veterinarian as soon as you notice the labor starts.
The above steps for caring for a pregnant English bulldog are merely a general outline. However, this article will tell you exactly how to adapt to the various stages of your bulldog’s pregnancy and keep your English bulldog safe until she receives her puppies.
Related: Why Bulldogs Need C-Sections: the Complete Guide
The Ultimate Guide to Taking Care of Your Pregnant English Bulldog
An English bulldog’s pregnancy is usually 63 days or nine weeks long. However, this can vary a bit depending on several factors. To understand what to do after your dog conceives, here’s a weekly guide to caring for your pregnant English bulldog:
Week One: Identifying the Signs of Pregnancy
You may have purposely fertilized your English bulldog, or in rare cases, she may have conceived randomly. Either way, you need to notice the early signs of pregnancy, so you can keep track of how to take care of her.
The first signs of pregnancy in an English bulldog include:
- a swollen vulva
- decreased activity
- increased affection
Even when you take her to the vet with these early symptoms, they can’t, for sure, determine whether it’s pregnancy yet.
At this moment, she’ll need your affection most so she can get through the changes in her body with ease. However, you shouldn’t change her diet just yet because it might make her more irritable and confused. You should subject her to some exercises so she can be more active as she transitions.
Week Two: Initial Development
In week two, the eggs embed themselves on the walls of the uterus, which marks the start of the first development. Since the embryos have not significantly developed yet, you don’t need to add nutrients in any way alter your bulldog’s diet. Reduce her exercise intensity to a bare minimum so that she doesn’t experience stress.
Week Three: Embryo Development
At this stage, the embryos will begin developing into fetuses, but you still shouldn’t alter the diet. All you need to do is be more affectionate to ease her irritation. You might notice some breast development as this week ends. Other than a slow run here and there, the English bulldog should start slowing down her movements.
Week Four: Confirming the State of Pregnancy
In week four, day 25, the veterinarian can confirm the pregnancy and even check the litter with an ultrasound to determine any possible issues with development. You can ask your vet if they think some dietary supplements are necessary at this time, according to the state of your dog. This is because, at this stage, the fetuses are fragile and vulnerable.
Week Five: Revelation of Physical Changes
You’ll start to see your English bulldog’s stomach bulge subtly and her breasts become fuller. That way, you’ll need to adjust her diet to fit one suitable for growth and reproduction. However, change her diet gradually and avoid foods that cause drastic changes to her digestive system.
You’ll love this stage since your vet can tell you the gender of the puppies through an ultrasound. Also, at this point, the fetuses will be significantly grown and will have reduced vulnerability because of the increased amniotic fluid.
Week Six: Increasing Appetite
At this stage, your English bulldog will start showing an increased appetite. However, don’t raise her portions excessively because they can irritate her digestive system with the puppies pressing in the stomach. You might notice a clear discharge from her vulva – but don’t panic, this is normal.
Week Seven: Restless When Approaching Full Development
In this stage, your English bulldog will become restless and start shedding some hair on her abdomen. Also, some milk will start coming out of her nipples, so be prepared to do some cleaning around your house. Again, be patient with her moods and clean her underbody regularly.
Week Eight: Nesting Time
Nesting means your English bulldog starts rummaging around or in the place you set up so she can prepare the arrival of her puppies. Her restlessness will increase, and you can feel and see the puppies moving in her womb. All you can do at this stage is to be supportive so that she may relax a bit.
You should also prepare a quiet place where she can have her puppies. You can use something like paper to insulate her birthplace from the floor. This could be newspapers or heavy foam. After putting the insulation, cover the top with some towels and hint to her that that is the place. You then need to train her to spend most of her time resting there, so she doesn’t stress herself to premature labor.
Week Nine: Whelping Is Near!
In week nine, you need to check on your English bulldog regularly as she may be giving birth anytime. She might lose her appetite, so don’t force her to eat much. You also need to take her temperature frequently because if it drops below 100, she is likely to give birth within one or two days.
When you notice your English bulldog being ready to give birth, take her to the vet since English bulldogs tend to go through complications (like dystocia, which is slow-progressing, difficult labor) that force them to be operated on.
Even if you don’t want your bulldog to be operated on, take her to a specialized setting where they’ll help with the labor care and advise you on what’s best for your English bulldog.
How To Feed A Pregnant English Bulldog
English bulldogs are extremely sensitive. Foods that are okay for other dogs may cause flatulence or allergies in your English bulldog. Even worse, improper diets may lead to hip dysplasia in your bulldog, as explained by Dog Food Advisor.
So, with all these issues to think about, you might wonder what you should feed your pregnant bulldog. Here are some clues:
What to Feed an English Bulldog in the First Half of Pregnancy
For around four weeks, you need to feed your bulldog her regular diet. You can switch to a more premium diet but do it gradually so that it doesn’t upset her digestive system. This involves anything that is a balanced diet but is less prone to bring the health-related issues that are prevalent in bulldogs.
The diet needs to include:
- Protein. Food full of protein helps with bodybuilding, which ensures that the puppies come out healthy and strong. You can get protein from natural meat like beef, chicken, and fish. You should note that raw meats aren’t recommended for pregnant bulldogs. You need to cook the food thoroughly. However, you can also go for premium protein formulas instead.
- Fat. Although you might be tempted to attract your bulldog with lots of fat in her food, you should incorporate healthy fats such as fish oil and flaxseed oil. However, most of the fats should come from the proteins.
- Carbohydrates. Your furry friend needs frequent bursts of energy to be able to carry the pregnancy. And that’s where carbohydrates come in. A steady supply of carbohydrates can come from starchy foods, fruits, and vegetables.
- Vitamins and minerals. Don’t forget to incorporate these nutrients since they help regulate the hormones and various body systems.
Since packaged foodstuffs have labeled portions, you can use them easily. However, natural foods need close monitoring, so be consistent with the sizes while watching your bulldog’s appetite. You can also start feeding her three or four small meals a day to ensure easy digestion when she starts getting heavy.
What to Feed an English Bulldog in the Second Half of Pregnancy
During the second half, your bulldog needs around 40% more calories a day, but this percentage can vary based on the number of puppies she is carrying. You, however, need to give them a balanced diet as you do regularly. As for dietary supplements, you won’t need any if you give your dog premium food.
However, during this time, your dog will need fatty acids to help nourish the puppies and herself. You can choose products that guarantee the presence of fish oil to provide your dog with such nutrients.
Managing the Weight of Your Pregnant Bulldog
It’s always recommended to maintain your pregnant bulldog’s weight at 20% to 30% of her average weight. This includes the added body mass and puppies. So how do you keep it under control?
Balancing Food While Taking Measurements
Since you’ll be adding extra food portions during the second half of the pregnancy, your English bulldog is likely to put on some weight. However, to ensure that your English bulldog doesn’t become overweight during pregnancy, measure her weight every week and adjust food portions to maintain it at a healthy level.
If you are unsure of how to handle the diet alterations and the feeding schedule, ask your vet for directions instead of making decisions based on assumptions.
Exercising a Pregnant English Bulldog
To make sure that the bulldog is healthy enough before and after pregnancy, you need to incorporate exercise during the first four weeks. English bulldogs are known to be less active than other breeds, so you shouldn’t stress her with strenuous activities like long morning runs.
Weeks 1 to 3:
You can take your English bulldog for a walk while keeping water in hand just in case she feels thirsty. A treat hunt is also a great way to keep your bulldog on the go during the first, second, and third weeks.
However, in the fourth week, you must avoid any exercises that involve rigorous movements since the fetuses are fragile because of the small amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the puppies.
From week five until birth, help your English bulldog do mild exercises and stop the moment she seems exhausted. This will help her successfully go through delivery and have a smooth transition after birth.
Health Risks of English Bulldogs During Pregnancy
Although most health risks come after the mother bulldog has delivered, she may experience some problems during pregnancy. Fortunately, it’s things you and the vet can fix.
This condition occurs when the mother bulldog doesn’t consume enough calories to sufficiently feed her growing puppies. This mostly happens during the rapid growth of puppies, which causes the mother to breakdown the existing fat in her body to feed the puppies.
So, how do you spot toxemia in your pregnant bulldog? She will start to lose interest in finishing the food portions you give her or barely eat altogether – a condition known as anorexia. If your nose is keen enough, you can sense the smell of cleaning fluid coming off her mouth.
If your bulldog experiences toxemia, she may lose her puppies, but if it worsens, you may lose your bulldog, too.
How can you battle pregnancy toxemia? As soon as you see your bulldog experiencing anorexia, increase fat and protein content in her diet and force her to eat. You can make her favorite fat and protein meals to entice her.
If she’s stubborn and doesn’t want to eat at all, rush her to the vet so they can formulate a plan to save her and the puppies. Generally, observe a proper diet during the pregnancy of your bulldog to help prevent such issues.
Pre-eclampsia is caused by hypocalcemia, a condition where the mother’s calcium levels fall far below the optimal. But how does this happen?
When the puppies start developing bones and teeth, they require ample amounts of calcium, which the mother may fail to provide sufficiently. This leads to pre-eclampsia, and the mother may become confused, restless, and nervous. Her legs may stiffen, causing her to stagger and even fail to stand.
Severe cases of pre-eclampsia are life-threatening, so once you spot any of the above symptoms in your English bulldog, consult the vet. They should treat her with urgency and monitor her recovery.
Before you start adding calcium supplements to her diet, ensure that you get professional advice on the proportions. This is to avoid further problems caused by too much calcium.
This is a general term used by vets to describe birthing difficulties. Although it occurs in other breeds, English bulldogs suffer it most mainly because of their breathing problems and the size of their pelvises.
Whelping requires lots of respiratory action, and this might be a problem for bulldogs who are vulnerable to Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome, BAOS. Since they have a short nose, they may start experiencing breathing difficulties, which may affect the puppies or even cause the mother to collapse.
Another common issue that causes dystocia is the narrow pelvis of the mother bulldog. It hinders the proper birthing of puppies who have big heads that can’t pass through the mother’s pelvis.
Other causes of dystocia include:
- Puppy development defects
- Improper puppy position
- Death of puppy(ies)
- Uterine inertia
If you spot dystocia, call the vet immediately. Since English bulldogs are generally operated on, your vet will need to examine her and do what’s medically necessary.
The English Bulldog C-Section: How It Is Done
Before the start of the C-section, your dog will be put under anesthesia. And just like in humans, the C-section of an English bulldog is done by cutting their abdomen to open the uterus and extract the puppies.
Although it may seem simple, you shouldn’t do it by yourself if you are not an expert. Even though it can be somewhat expensive to get your bulldog a C-section, the surgery must be done by a veterinarian. Let a professional handle the delivery of your puppies, so you can be confident of the safety of their lives.
Check out this video of how English bulldog puppies are delivered:
How to Take Care of the English Bulldog After Delivery
After a C-section delivers the puppies, that’s when the real work begins. You must take care of the mother dog like you would care for a sick and fragile person. The mother needs to rest for one to two weeks, during which you shouldn’t subject her to any physical exercise.
To help the mother bulldog transition to regular life comfortably, you should do the following:
1. Prepare a Warm Tented Environment
You need to create a safe space for your mother bulldog and her puppies, and constructing a temporary tent is one of the best ways to facilitate a micro-climate for them. It needs to resemble a closet space with soft beddings and insulation from the floor.
The temperature in the space should be kept within the 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit range, especially if the puppies will be staying with the mother in the tent. If you set everything up, you’ll be ready for the next step.
2. Take Her Home and Alleviate Her Stress
After the C-section, most mother dogs are usually exhausted and doing their best to recover from anesthesia. All they can do is lie down. This means that their puppies won’t get the maternal care that they need, like licking their wet exterior, urine, and poop. Along with caring for the pups while their mother recovers, you should take some steps to help the mother bulldog recover, as well.
So, you need to take her home and help her:
- Eat and drink sufficiently.
- Urinate and defecate to release some irritation.
- Settle her down in the safe place that you already set up.
- Comfort her so she can feel relaxed.
3. Help Her Feed the Puppies
After you’ve helped your mother bulldog alleviate the anxiety she experienced during this short-term change, it’s time to feed the puppies. Bring the puppies near her and help her settle on her side so that the puppies can locate the nipples. You can lead them on as well since the mother can’t parent them properly at that moment.
Helping the mother bulldog feed her puppies is one of the best ways you can help her heal. The sudden changes may disorient her but seeing how supportive you are will help her recover more quickly.
4. Nurse the Mother Bulldog
To ensure that the surgery wound doesn’t get infected, clean it every day, and supervise the mothers’ movements, so she doesn’t get hurt. This means that anything that might be potentially risky to the mother should be eliminated.
If you notice any abnormalities in the incision area or elevation of her body temperature beyond 103 degrees Fahrenheit, call your vet immediately. She may also have issues with eating and production of milk for the babies. Don’t forget to call the vet with any problems your bulldog may be experiencing so that they can advise you accordingly.
What to Do When the Mother Bulldog Isn’t Producing Enough Milk
Agalactia, a condition where a mother can’t produce milk when their lactation period isn’t over, can make many dog owners worry. What might they be doing wrong? Is the English bulldog sick? Is the mother naturally incapable of feeding the puppies?
Agalactia gets dog owners worried since the time after delivery is one of the most crucial periods for the litters’ growth. However, you can get it figured out if you know the necessary aspects of the nursing to focus on.
The reasons why your dog may not be producing enough milk include:
- Premature births
- A massive parasite existence
- Infection of the mammary glands or uterus
- Inability to release or respond to hormones.
Although most of the above causes are probable, some are uncommon, especially if a professional was involved in the whelping process. Therefore, even though the mother naturally produces the milk production facilitating hormone, oxytocin, you might sometimes need to help.
You can combat agalactia by:
- Providing consistent hydration.
- Ensuring a proper diet.
- Consulting with a vet.
- Showing patience and support when lactation attempts fail by feeding the puppies yourself.
Nursing an English bulldog after the C-section can range from easy to extremely challenging. However, if you involve the mother and the puppies through this adventurous transition, you can raise amazing young English bulldogs while keeping their mother happy.
Common Questions About Pregnant English Bulldogs
Here are common questions from bulldog parents:
Q. Should I vaccinate my pregnant bulldog?
A. Vaccinating any type of dog during pregnancy isn’t recommended. During the first half, vaccination is dangerous to the embryo as it might tamper with the development of the fetus and cause defects or even death of the puppies.
The best way to ensure your bulldog’s health is to vaccinate it before it breeds. You can talk to your vet to determine whether your bulldog needs any type of vaccination before pregnancy.
Q. Can my English Bulldog give birth naturally?
A. The short answer is: yes. However, English bulldogs have narrow pelvises that make it challenging to give birth to puppies safely. The broad heads of the puppies strain the mother’s birth canal to the point where the puppy, the mother, or both might die in the process.
If you want your bulldog to give birth naturally, you can ask your vet to scrutinize her state and try facilitating the process unless otherwise. Your bulldog might be in the five percent of English bulldogs who deliver naturally.
Q. How many puppies can an English Bulldog deliver?
A. Most often, an English bulldog will give birth to three to four puppies. She might not give them much attention, so be prepared to take care of them before you introduce them to her. Don’t keep them separate, though. If they stay nearby, the mother will get back to her affectionate ways and mother her puppies lovingly.
Q. How many times Can my dog undergo a C-section?
A. Although there isn’t any specific number of times they can for sure endure, it is recommended that they only go through C-sections three times (or less), just like humans. Repeat C-sections increase the vulnerability of your bulldog to complications like excessive bleeding that can lead to death. Also, performing C-sections repeatedly can prompt issues under anesthesia, so the fewer surgeries, the better.
Taking care of an English bulldog during pregnancy and even after requires attention to detail. If you are attentive with the changes taking place within and around the dog, you’ll be fixing problematic circumstances as fast as they come.
Taking care of a pregnant English bulldog is quite a task. However, after the delivery of the litter, it’ll be more delicate and time-consuming. However, proper care is necessary for anyone who wants to raise a healthy mother and energetic litter of English bulldog puppies.
If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.