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Caring For a Pregnant Akita
Caring for an Akita bitch during pregnancy is basically common sense. She should be closely monitored and made as comfortable and happy as possible. You should ensure that she has a dry bed, plenty of clean drinking water and good quality food regularly. The first five weeks will probably be completely normal. He can have his “off” days. He may be extra hungry. She may show a slight change in temperament and be more cautious in how she behaves, but as long as she’s apparently healthy and happy, that’s all that matters.
As soon as you suspect that she is pregnant, it is a good idea to contact your vet to record the date of the expected birth in the diary and to monitor the bitch’s progress. Akitas don’t carry much water with their puppies, but they will have to carry a lot of weight over the weeks. It is generally not recommended to give a lot of extra food in the first few weeks. Experience has taught us that overfeeding a bitch will burden her puppies and make them gain weight. This causes two problems. First, he won’t be exercising as well, so he won’t keep his muscles. Second, the puppies will be fat, which means they will be bigger and have a harder time passing through the birth canal. And when they are born, they will be fat and lazy.
It is much better to have an active mother and slim, energetic puppies that will fight to get to the teats to fill with that all-important mother’s first milk. We have found that the best policy is to feed a balanced diet with more food added after about five weeks. A mom-to-be will naturally be hungrier, but rest assured that whatever food you give her, she will pass it on to her unborn babies before eating it herself. She is a natural at parental care. Additives in the form of calcium and possibly iron are a good idea, again after the five week period. Nowadays, most foods are carefully balanced and many additives should not be needed. In general, they can do more harm than good. However, if the female indicates that she may be deficient, you should take her to the vet for a proper examination and analysis.
Akita females “hide” their puppies very well for at least five weeks, more often six. They may not show any signs of being pregnant at all and this can be very frustrating for owners who obviously want to know if they should expect a litter so they can prepare. Probably the best indication is swelling of the female’s teats. As early as three weeks, they can “bounce” or slightly increase in size and become pinker. In our experience, this is the only “sure” sign. An ultrasound scan can also provide a definitive diagnosis, but is expensive and sometimes requires removing the hair on the female’s side or underside.
Your bitch may show signs of rib or loin thickening earlier, but this is highly unlikely. Akita Inu females do not usually carry their young over their hips like most breeds. They hide them under their ribs and later “drop” them and carry them in their bellies like a cow carries a calf. Whether you observe positive signs or not, it is wise to contact your vet and write down your expected birth date in his diary so that it is available if needed.
Seven weeks after pregnancy, bring the bitch to the maternity ward. A box of suitable size should be prepared and the absolute minimum dimensions should be about 4 feet 6 inches by 3 feet. This will allow the bitch to lie fully stretched out on her side. The box can certainly be bigger, but not so big as to allow the puppies to crawl away from their mother and get lost. Make sure the bitch is happy with the box and its position. After a few days, she will welcome the peace, quiet and solitude of this space and accept it as a natural place when the time of birth comes. If she is unhappy at all, you must give in to her and make other arrangements. He probably has a good reason for not wanting things like you. So listen to her and adapt. She may accept the box and then change her mind on the day of delivery and want to go elsewhere. Again you have to give in to her request. She may return to the box after she has her first puppy, but let her decide. Having a happy, contented bitch that successfully goes through pregnancy and gives birth to puppies safely without causing you – or herself – any unnecessary worry is worth all the upheaval.
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